Environmental Sensitivity Maps
In the case of any tangible or credible threat to the environment, these maps could guide and inform anyone, including ourselves, to those sensitive areas that require immediate attention; in other words, it allows any responders to prioritize and maximize protection efforts in specified areas. Our extensive mapping encompassed the oceans and coastlines for critical habitats, usage, natural communities and wildlife occurrences which allowed the identification of sensitive receptors that exist in the area. With this information we then created a further set of maps that we call environmental sensitivity index maps which further classifies in greater detail individual coastlines and combines information on species distribution, ecosystem ecology, oceanography and resource use.
Detailed Environmental Information in The Bahamas
Fortunately, BPC’s exploration locations are some distance from identified, mapped sensitive habitats. But importantly, in order to initiate any effective response no matter where the perceived threat originates, it is imperative to know precisely how to access areas requiring the most urgent attention. This, to mobilise equipment and resources to help the authorities in any threatening situation, to affect an appropriate and immediate response in order to ensure those areas that demand it are adequately, appropriately and correctly protected.
The maps were created with the help of local islanders, scientific experts, local fishermen, government agencies, local environmental non-governmental organizations, local research organizationsand even real estate agencies. Collated, the information included their view of priorities in highlighting critical and natural wildlife communities, their activities and habitats that may have the potential to be impacted if any natural or uncommon threat emerged. For instance, they show us such things as the turtle nesting beaches, blue holes, important birding areas, coral reefs, sea grass beds and wetlands. Anywhere in the world where a threat to the environment may become apparent, the need to know, in advance, the most exposed areas, the most sensitive or the most sensitized to any particular threat, is crucial in ensuring scarce resources are mobilized for maximum protection.
The Sensitivity Maps, and the Indexes that go with them, were started from scratch.
Communities and agencies voluntarily assisted in the creation of the maps, though at least initially, with very little to go on. But with a series of site visits, local dialogues, inspections and surveys across the Family Islands involving really anyone or any group with a view or pertinent information, knowledge or interest over these huge, huge areas of The Bahamas, things gradually came together. The creation of the Environmental Sensitivity and Index Maps took nearly a year to complete and will serve as a foundation for any management plans for the safeguarding of the environment for present and future generations.
For further information BPC’s Annual Reports and all other company information can be found at www.bpcplc.com and at http://www.best.bs/index.html for the BEST Commission which has the complete list of all the regulatory required measures put in place and met by BPC including the Environmental Impact Assessment.