An environmental drive to create a coastal red mangrove forest on Trunk Island has been boosted by a $125,000 donation from Aspen Bermuda.
Aspen will give $25,000 a year over five years to support the Bermuda Zoological Society project on the Harrington Sound island and will contribute to its educational Living Classroom programme.
Colin Brown, BZS president, said: “Thanks to the generous donation from Aspen Bermuda Limited, the BZS has an opportunity to create a new red mangrove habitat on Trunk Island.
“The habitat will give our education team new opportunities to teach science in exciting ways and will permit substantive and sustained educational experiences for thousands of students as they move through the Bermuda school systems.”
Red mangroves provide a nursery habitat for numerous juvenile reef fish and provide feeding areas for fish at high tide. Their tangled roots also protect the coastline against erosion.
As coastal and marine ecosystems, mangrove forests help to store carbon and are critical in mitigating climate change in what is known as a Blue Carbon initiative.
Mangroves have suffered widespread losses in Bermuda owing to rising sea levels hindering their ability to seed following storm damage.
Adam Barboza, director of corporate social responsibility at Aspen, said: “One of Aspen Bermuda Limited’s core values is being in it together and, by providing opportunities for experiential learning, our partnership with the BZS will help provide the basis for a better understanding of how we all can make a difference in the world in which we live.
“By supporting the mangrove forestation project at Trunk Island, we look to work with the BZS to raise awareness of climate change, habitat restoration and Bermuda’s ability to provide meaningful solutions for Blue Carbon initiatives.”
Dr Jamie Bacon, BZS education officer, added: “A large amount of a student’s time is spent sitting in a school classroom but the integration of the mangroves will provide further experiential learning on Trunk Island.
“The establishment of a red mangrove forest will contribute to critical habitat restoration, and students will have the unique opportunity to snorkel up to the mangrove at high tide to inspect the diverse marine community living both on the prop roots and in underwater root systems.”
As part of the project, a walk-through exhibit will allow visitors to learn about the forest through signage with the aim of inspiring an appreciation for the critically endangered habitat.