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Combining sun, sand and science in the Bahamas
Date:9/29/2009

GREAT GUANA CAY, BAHAMAS (September 29, 2009)It is well known that people from all over the world come to the Bahamas to enjoy the pristine waters, spectacular coral reefs and great fishing. Tourism produces approximately 55 % of the gross domestic product and employs up to 60% of the total workforce in the Bahamas. However, building of hotels and facilities that make it possible for visitors to come and enjoy the natural beauty of the islands can also damage the marine environment they come to take pleasure in.

Consequently, researchers from the University of Miami teamed up with developers from Discovery Land Company , to establish the first Bahamian project that employed on-site environmental scientists to guide the construction of a sustainable development called the Baker's Bay Golf and Ocean Club, (BBC) located in the Northeastern Bahamas. This project uses BBC as a case study and documents best practices and construction impacts, especially on the marine environment. The findings were published earlier this year in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism.

The goal of the project was to establish an Environmental Management Program with realistic environmental goals, explained Kathleen Sullivan-Sealey, associate professor in the Department of Biology at the UM College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator of the project.

"Working with land-planners, developers and engineers was new and required re-thinking about the important ecological and geological information that this group needed to know for construction on an island," Sullivan-Sealey said. "Information and ideas that ecologists take for granted are not part of the thinking for most developers."

The Bahamas is comprised of 700 low-lying islands and 2,000 small keys, with carbonate limestone banks and limited sources of fresh water. For that reason, reducing the impact of development on water supply was a priority. Other mitigation measures in the proje
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Contact: Marie Guma-Diaz
m.gumadiaz@umiami.edu
305-284-1601
University of Miami
Source:Eurekalert  

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