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August 22, 2009


grace yototodo

Good article but hasn't the Saunder's Beach area always been a glorified swamp? Wasn't your ideal coastal plan completely devoid of any road? Isn't removing the trees just part of the solution?

larry smith

Current plans call for the road to be realigned south and the trees removed. The area will then be planted withy native dune vegetation.

This article was a response to sentimental concerns raised by some about the loss of the casuarinas.

drew Roberts

They need to preserve *free* public parking at these locations. Something that doesn't always seem to be at the forefront of many projects.

larry smith

Current plans call for a safe parking area, public toilets and a playground for this area.

Rob Millard

Casuarina cunninghamiana (aka "beefwood") is an Australian import that has indeed been planted in many coastal areas across the world to stabilize sand dunes .... usually mobile dunes (i.e. dunes that move across the landscape through wind action.) They have a very shallow, extensive root system that does indeed protect sea sand from wind erosion. This same shallow root system makes them susceptible to being toppled by hurricanes, though, and I don't think they have ever been regarded as effective barriers against wave action. It is also undeniable that they do displace indigenous vegetation.

If native vegetation can be re-established (it will have to be protected to prevent trampling) then that should be more effective than casuarinas and also more ecologically sustainable.

I am surprised to hear people talk of the aesthetic appeal of casuarinas. I have always thought them to be a particularly scraggly, ugly tree quite out of place in the Bahamas. But that's just my personal opinion .... they have been around for so long that one can understand how some might regard them as a natural and appealing part of the landscape.

drew Roberts

larry, I speak more to the number of parking spaces before and after. just off the top, there seems to be way less parking out beyond the caves now then in prior times.

Rob, they may be ugly, but they sure sound nice at night when the wind is blowing through them and the waves are breaking on the rocks. They are great for burning for bbq too.

larry smith

The plans call for 150 parking spaces I believe. Presently, people are parking on the dune, between the trees - which is what used to happen at Orange Hill. The idea is to protect the dune in order to protect the beach.

Feel free to BBQ and carve as much casuarina as you can.

Erasmus Folly

They should replant the casurinas in the proposed parking lot, so as to provide shade to the cars parked there. That would 'save' the trees and 'save' the dune. Gordian knot sliced!

Thank you for your detailed and scientific presentation. It is frustrating explaining to well intentioned people that their intentions are misguided.

Bob Knaus

Science is a useful tool for solving scientific problems.

We know what Churchill said about the usefulness of democracy for solving governmental problems.

Like it or not, democracy trumps science in the public arena.

The only solution (if you are scientificly minded, as I am) is to educate the populace in facts over feelings. A very slow process, in my experience.

H. Dennison Parker

The same arguments have long been made in Florida as in The Bahamas...casuarinas are 'bad"... they must go for all the classical reasons. Shallow roots, shaded, barren understory, highly competitive, blah, blah. All true, all valid, and all misguided. The benefits of the trees, in locations where they are useful, sometimes outweighs a purely "scientific" approach. As a scientist I resent that description. Science can produce facts and probabilites that are useful, but the judgement calls that make decisions are often based on other factors.
Such is the case with casuarinas. We know their drawbacks but some propose to accept those to enjoy their benefits. I am one of them. I watched Abaco flattened by Floyd in 1999. The beautiful, dark green, shaded coastlines provided by casuarinas turned to rusty brown - for years. Only now is the 50-60 ft forest starting to reappear, in the form of 20-30 ft trees. When the next Floyd comes along, many of them will go down again...and be cleaned up again...and regrow again. Such is their nature. In the meantime, invaluable shade and scenery will be enjoyed by humans...who else?

larry smith

Incredible. An argument that says the shade of an invasive weed with no natural predators is preferable to the survival of our beaches and native vegetation.

Erasmus Folly

It is sad that well intentioned people that think they are being 'environmental' simply don't want to or can't understand the science. I keep hearing... well, that is your opinion etc etc. It isn't about 'opinion'. We are all entitled to our opinions, but you have to have the right science as the basic starting point of any debate. If not, then there really isn't anything to talk about and mob rule is the only criteria. People who mean very well and are well intentioned are getting caught up in 'saving the casurina' on our beaches, which ironically, is about as un-environmental a position, according to the SCIENCE, as one can take. Don't let your good intentions be misused by others for cheap political points.

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