Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Andros master plan nears completion

Published:Thursday | December 1, 2016 | 12:01 AM

THE Sustainable Development Master Plan for Andros is near completion, following more than a year of work on the project under which it is being produced.

It is to guide the development of the island up to 2040, taking into consideration, among other things, likely climate change impacts — the likes of which was recently felt as Hurricane Matthew pummelled Andros, as elsewhere in The Bahamas, leaving in its wake despair and extensive damage.

The plan, meanwhile, charts a course for an Andros that is developed on the strength of its natural assets, including the world’s third-largest barrier reef, vast coppice and mangrove forests and the highest density of blue holes in the western hemisphere.

With funding from the Inter-American Development Bank to the tune of US$900,000, the “Ecosystem-based Development for Andros Island” project is led by the Office of the Prime Minister.

The project has three components:
• Data collection on ecosystem services and the analysis of alternative future development scenarios;
• Public consultation and outreach; and
• The development of a master plan with investment opportunities for Andros.

The first two components were undertaken by the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University in the United States, and the SEV Consulting Group of The Bahamas respectively.

French engineering firm BRL Ingénerie (BRLi), with support from The Bahamas-based Blue Engineering, is leading the work on the production of the master plan.

“The master plan identifies public and private investment opportunities, policy recommendations, land and sea zoning guidelines, and other management actions to guide sustainable development of the island, both for its people and its environment,” said BRLi team leader and coastal and marine zone management specialist Francois Carnus.

The master plan, now in draft, has been informed by consideration for eight areas identified by local stakeholders as essential to their future development: climate and coastal resilience; education and capacity building; food and water security; health and well-being; land tenure security, land use planning and enforcement; livelihoods and income equality; transportation for people and goods; and strengthening local government.

To date, the project has progressed with input from a wide cross-section of stakeholders through public consultations and the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). Those stakeholders, including the members of the TAC, include local community residents, non-government organisations, business interests, and policymakers.