Abaco National Park
In 1994, The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) established the Abaco National Park primarily to protect the northern most range of the Bahama Parrot. The Park, located on 20,500 acres of the south-eastern portion of Great Abaco Island encompasses over 5,000 acres of pine forest, the major habitat of the Bahama Parrot. The Park is also home to many diverse species of birds making this one of the most important bird areas of The Bahamas. The Park also preserves a large portion of Abaco’s water table, protecting her limited fresh water reserves.
How do you get there?
The Abaco National Park can be reached by traveling south by car out of Marsh Harbour towards Sandy Point. The park is rich in biodiversity, offering hiking, and bird-watching. Since it is a protected area, care of flora and fauna when visiting the park is expected. It is a rustic area with no services – please remember to pack out what you pack in.
What can you see in the Park?
The Abaco National Park is easily accessible to locals and tourists wanting to visit the area. It hosts a very diverse biosphere geared to ecotourism activities.
The Park is home to the endemic Bahama Parrot, the Bahama Yellow Throat and the Pine Warbler. The Kirkland Warbler which breeds in Michigan and winters in the Bahamas has been sighted in the Abaco National Park. Other specialty birds seen on surrounding islands as well as the Abaco National Park include the Red-legged Thrush, Blue-gray Gnat-catcher, Olive-capped Warbler, Loggerhead Kingbird, LaSagra’s Flycatcher, Greater Antillean Bullfish, Striped-headed Tananger, Bahama Swallow, Cuban Emerald Hummingbird, Bahama Mockingbird and the West Indian Woodpecker.
Game species also live in the park. Hunting is permitted in the Park during specific seasons. Wild Boar, introduced many years ago to Abaco, is a popular game animal. Also popular are Quail, Wood Dove and the White-crowned Pigeon. These birds feed on poisonwood berries and other wild berries plentiful in the Park.
Migratory birds use the fresh water ponds and lakes in the park during their travels. Endangered in Florida, however quite common in Abaco National Park, the Atala Hairstreak Butterfly has made the Park its home.
There is an abundance of lizards and other small wildlife inhabiting the park too.
Conservation under threat:
Even though the park has been set aside for conservation purposes, it does not mean that the area will be free from the effects of man. When areas surrounding the park are disturbed, affecting the natural order of things, it opens the door to invasive plants. Within 10 miles in any direction from the park large stands of Casuarina trees and continuous hedges of Hawaiian Seagrape (Scaevola taccada) can be found.
Casuarinas have invaded significant portions of Cross Harbour’s shoreline that is less than five (5) miles away from the park and both Casuarinas and Hawaiian Seagrapes are present in the Crossing Rock settlement.
Due to the abundance and closeness of these invasive plants and trees and the ease in which they spread along the shoreline it is believed that without taking action to remove them, there will be invasive species growing within the Abaco National Park within ten (10) years.
Invasive animal species have already infiltrated the park – feral cats are a constant threat to the Abaco Parrot and other native species. Raccoons are found in north and central Abaco and are gradually advancing southward.
There is also concern that with residential development moving out of Marsh Harbour into more rural areas, that developers and homeowners need to take greater responsibility in regard to what they plant and what they remove from the land. Consider the effects your actions may have on the environment!
The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) was established in 1959 by an act of Parliament. It is the only known non-governmental organization world wide to manage a whole country’s national parks system. The BNT is actively fighting for the conservation of The Bahamas’ natural resources.