Dr. Ethan Freid is the Preserve’s botanist, becoming involved in its development in 2006 when he first met its founder Shelby White. With her vision he undertook a series of land surveys to find the right location to showcase Bahamian plant diversity and bush medicine. After numerous surveys Ethan recommended the Levy Preserve’s current location on Banks Road in Governors Harbour based on its high levels of biodiversity, as well as plant community and geologic structure and diversity.
Ethan is a classically trained botanist, having worked in the Bahamas since 1994 documenting the diversity of vascular plants and plant communities throughout the archipelago, as well as in the greater Caribbean region. He earned his B.S. in Botany from Humboldt State University (1992) and his Ph.D. in Botany at Miami University (2000). He has published sixteen scientific articles, numerous papers for conservation projects, and is a co-author of a Natural History of the Bahamas field guide.
Ethan came to Eleuthera in January 2009 to work for the Levy Preserve and the Bahamas National Trust full-time, and to oversee the development of the site. He established the philosophical botanical parameters for the stages of development and trained staff and construction crews accordingly. He was also involved in other areas of the Levy Preserve’s development including the creation and layout of the trail and pathway systems on the site, the entrance road, parking areas and general display beds and overseeing the removal of invasive species.
Ethan worked with Dr. Laurel Richey-Abbey to develop the medicinal display beds and which species would be highlighted. During trail development, Ethan instigated the building of the observation tower and created its design. As Phase One came to an end he initiated and oversaw the ecological restoration of all disturbed areas. This involved returning all areas of the Preserve that were not display beds, paths, buildings, or roads back to a natural forest system that allows normal ecological processes to occur.
Since operations began in 2011 Ethan has been developing and implementing the Science and Conservation program. Botanically, Ethan has established two long-term research projects at the Levy Preserve. The first is the Permanent Forest Plot project that is studying structure, growth, and change over time at three locations in the Preserve’s natural forest areas. The second project is studying the environment within and above the forest using the Preserve’s weather station and forest sensors. This project is investigating how the environment affects annual forest growth and how seasonal change affects other biodiversity within the forest. The science program is also working with other researchers on studies investigating Entomology and Ornithology at the Levy Preserve.