Dr. Ethan Freid is the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve’s botanist. He came to Eleuthera in January 2009 to work for the Preserve and The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) full-time and oversee the development of the LLNPP’s site. Being guided by the vision of Shelby White, he undertook a series of diligent land surveys to find exactly the right location to bring her vision of showcasing Bahamian plant diversity to life. After an extensive search, an area across from local resort Pineapple Fields proved to be the perfect fit due to its high levels of biodiversity, plant communities, and geologic structure. He established the philosophical botanical parameters for the stages of development and trained staff and construction crews accordingly.
Ethan was also involved in other areas of the Levy Preserve’s development, including the creation and layout of its trails, the entrance road, parking areas, and general display beds. He oversaw the removal of invasive species and the ecological restoration of all disturbed areas. This involved returning all areas of the Preserve that weren’t display beds, paths, buildings, or roads back into a natural forest system that allows normal ecological processes to occur.
Ethan worked with Dr. Laurel Richey-Abbey to develop the medicinal display beds and select which species would be highlighted. He also initiated the building of the Preserve’s observation tower and created its design.
As a classically-trained botanist, Ethan has 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 the Natural History of The Bahamas Field Guide.
Since LLNPP 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 Preserve. The first is the Permanent Forest Plot project that studies structure, growth, and change over time at three locations within the Preserve’s natural forest areas. The second project studies 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.