island conservation rochelle newbold lynn gape

Women’s History Month: Rochelle Newbold and Lynn Gape

In honor of Women’s History Month, Bahamas Program Manager Rochelle Newbold reflects on a woman whose work in conservation and leadership qualities inspire her.

By: Rochelle Newbold

It is rare for individuals to know with certainty that their work will have an impact. Often, we just go about our work and then at some point, well into the future, usually at the retirement party or honorees dinner, someone takes the time to connect the dots. It is during these events that individuals have a moment of realization, that the work they have done has affected the lives of a nation of people. I think that is what is happening with Lynn Gape, Deputy Executive Director of The Bahamas National Trust.

Though she is not in retirement or having an honorees dinner, when you look back at the work of her hands it is truly remarkable! One example is her work with the Bahama Parrot. In 1990, Lynn joined with others of The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) to raise awareness about the Bahama Parrot, a native bird that lives in the pine forest and nests on the ground, where it is vulnerable to fire, predators, and human threats. Through Lynn’s leadership, BNT established the Abaco National Park in 1994 with the goal of protecting the parrot, its habitat, and to provide an environment for research. Additionally, through Lynn’s efforts action was taken to actively address the feral cat problem in the park. By addressing the feral cat problem, the Bahama Parrot population doubled!

island conservation bahamas parrot

Bahama Parrots. Credit: Shelley Cant-Woodside

However, not satisfied with just establishing a park, Lynn is presently working with her staff to ensure that the Abaco National Park is not just a haven for the parrot, but for the entire island. Lynn understands that the park’s value is linked to its ability to provide economic, social, and environmental benefits to the people of the island of Abaco. When asked about her vison, she would indicate that it is to see a comprehensive system of National Parks and protected areas in The Bahamas with every Bahamian embracing environmental stewardship. Her vision is evolving into a reality with the growth of the Bahamas’ national park system from 12 national parks in 1994 to 32 in 2016.

Lynn understands that the park’s value is linked to its ability to provide economic, social, and environmental benefits to the people of the island of Abaco.

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An Audobon’s Shearwater in the Bahamas. Credit: Island Conservation

Lynn is an individual who believes in acknowledging the work and efforts of her colleagues. She is a nexus in a team whose efforts have accomplished truly remarkable work for such a small organization. I am inspired by her quiet efforts, which are having a profound impact on the lives of thousands of people and a nation at large. She inspires me the same way she inspires her team. She can relate to and encourage people from all walks of life. She inspires her staff, even when opportunities are lost. She uses the lessons learned from missed opportunities as teaching moments, so those around her always get to experience an atmosphere of adventure and optimism. These are traits of a true leader, one whose mark goes beyond their local boundaries.

I am inspired by her quiet efforts, which are having a profound impact on the lives of thousands of people and a nation at large.

As the newly appointed IC Program Manager for The Bahamas, I work with partners such as The Bahamas National Trust to ensure that the biodiversity of The Bahamas is enhanced, maintained and preserved. The goal of my work is to ensure environmental functionality such that there are continuous benefits to the people.  It is important that people see that the environment can be a benefit to them and that it has value related to its natural function. Like Lynn, I recognize that the fact is, on islands people and the environment are inseparable.

island conservation rochelle newbold lynn gape bahamas

Allen Cay, Bahamas. Credit: Island Conservation

Featured photo: Left: Rochelle Newbold Right: Lynn Gape

About Rochelle Newbold

Rochelle holds a Masters of Environmental Management degree from Duke University in Coastal Environmental Management and a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Marine Biology. She has been working in the environmental field for more than 15 years managing various public and private sector developments in The Bahamas as well as United Nations and regionally funded projects.

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