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Botanical Garden Coming To Eleuthera: Bahamas National Trust
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Posted by:Apr 11th 2008, 03:13:42 pm
Fig Tree News TeamNative Botanical Garden Coming Soon to Eleuthera

Eleuthera will soon be home to a Native Botanical Garden - the Leon Levy Botanical Garden, a partnership project between the A Leon Levy Foundation and the Bahamas National Trust (BNT). The BNT has assembled a project team who are in the process of preparing final conceptual plans including determination of development and long term operational costs (including infrastructure and staffing).

This followed a successful meeting with local community officials and other local stakeholders to receive input on draft conceptual plans on January 30 - the meeting was held in Eleuthera.

The project team consists of BNT, Leon Levy Foundation, Ministry of Tourism, Islands By Design, Wilderness Graphics, experts from the NY Botanical Garden, Terrain Design and Management (Tim Bethel) and Dr Ethan Freid (Botanist, University of Tampa). Representatives from the local community and local government will also be consulted for input and guidance.

The idea for this natural development on Eleuthera was first proposed by Ms. Shelby White, who along with her late husband, Leon Levy, own a home on Eleuthera. Ms. White first approached the BNT about the possibility of creating a public native botanical garden during the winter of 2005. The Leon Levy Foundation subsequently funded the Trust to evaluate several sites on the Island of Eleuthera and to provide advice on how to move the project forward.

Shelby White and Leon Levy - Source

25-acres of the Pineapple Fields development on the Banks Road near Governors Harbour just south of the old Club Med property, has been purchased by the Foundation for development of the Gardens. This was one of several sites evaluated by Dr. Freid, who ultimately prepared a detailed report on the vegetation of the site preferred by Ms. White. Marvin Cook of Wilderness Graphics (a conceptual planner working with the BNT, MOT, Clifton Heritage and AMMC), has also evaluated the site.

It has been agreed by the partners involved, that the Foundation will initially retain ownership of the land while the BNT will be delegated management authority. Under the management contract, BNT will be granted the funds necessary to develop and implement the plan for creation of the Botanical Garden. The BNT looks forward to this project being a springboard to firmly establish the Trust's presence in Eleuthera; with the vision to generate widespread local interest in the enjoyment and stewardship of the island's natural surroundings, and growth in BNT's membership.

It is envisioned by the partners involved, that the garden will serve as a centre of excellence for environmental education and a first class public access facility for Bahamians to learn about Bahamian vegetation and traditional bush medicine. Traditional bush medicine was a keen interest of the late Mr. Levy and Ms. White would like to see this reflected strongly in the project. It is also anticipated that the botanical garden will serve as an important tourist attraction for Central Eleuthera.

Leon Levy, according to Forbes Magazine, was a "Wall Street investment genius and prolific philanthropist", who died at age 77 on April 6, 2003. The son of a well-known economist and businessman, Levy, made his early fortune from building up Oppenheimer & Co., a securities firm.

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