Alarming report about Saba’s, Statia’s nature

Wa­geningen University in the Neth­erlands recently published an alarming report on the threat­ened natural resources in Bo­naire, Saba and St. Eustatius.
Dutch Caribbean Nature Alli­ance (DCNA), together with lo­cal park organizations, urge the islands and the Dutch govern­ment to take measures to save nature above and below water.

Loss of nature has far-reaching negative consequences for the local population since nature serves as one of the most impor­tant sources of income, and of­fers protection against extreme weather conditions, DCNA said.
Wageningen University recently published an alarming report, commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, on the state of nature in the Caribbean Netherlands.

Due to deforestation and overgrazing by cattle, the soil can no longer be held by vegetation and erosion occurs. Rain­water and wind ensure that the soil ends up in the ocean, which together with untreated waste water pose a major threat to coral reefs. (Public Entity Bonaire/Directorate Spatial Development photo)

 

The 33 experts who worked on this report concluded that the current state of biodiversity in the Caribbean Netherlands must be assessed as “moderately un­favourable to very unfavourable. This applies to both the habitats and the dependent species and/or species groups.

“This contrasts strongly with the image for the European Union and the European Netherlands, where governments have been structurally investing in nature policy and management for de­cades,” it is stated in the report. There are many threats identi­fied, the biggest threats being cattle, invasive exotic species, climate change and overfishing.

“In addition, coastal devel­opment, erosion and eutro­phication by waste water should not be forgotten. Because the threats are not sufficiently addressed, the scientists view the future perspective as moderately unfavourable to very unfa­vourable,” the Wageningen scientists said.

The deterioration of the local environmental con­ditions has, in addition to negative consequences for the number of plant and animal species, major eco­nomic consequences. Habitats such as coral reefs, mangrove forests, seagrass fields, tropical mist and rain forests and caves serve as im­portant tourist attractions. Less nature means fewer tour­ists, resulting in a decrease in employment and income. In addition, the loss of coral reefs, mangroves and defores­tation will provide less (coast­al) protection in extreme weather conditions. Examples of this were seen after Hurri­canes Irma and Maria, which caused major damage in the Windward Islands in 2017.

For the largest threats, it is deemed critical to immediate­ly tackle the issue of overgraz­ing caused by free-roaming cattle and to improve waste‑ and wastewater-treatment systems. In addition, there is a need for improved monitor­ing mechanisms to better un­derstand the current state of the environment and evaluate its management.

It is also deemed important to improve the resilience of ecosystems so that these are better able to withstand the effects of climate change, such as warmer and acidic seawater which causes coral bleaching, and extreme weather condi­tions, such as longer periods of drought and more powerful hurricanes.

Other important manage­ment considerations include implementing coastal protec­tion through spatial planning and reduction of erosion through reforestation with in­digenous trees and shrubs. DCNA said it agrees with the conclusions of the Wa­geningen research and recom­mends that all involved gov­ernments sit down with (local) experts to work together to find integrated solutions to help reverse these trends.

DCNA member organiza­tions such as St. Eustatius Nationals Parks STENAPA, Saba Conservation Founda­tion and Bonaire National Parks Foundation STINAPA in Bonaire could use addi­tional resources to take imme­diate action and, if necessary, carry out additional indepen­dent research, DCNA said.
The same applies to the other DCNA members, such as Parke Nacional Arikok in Aruba, Caribbean Research and Management of Biodi­versity CARMABI in Cura­cao and St. Maarten Nature Foundation.

“For all islands, investing in nature and the environ­ment is not a luxury, but a crucial investment in the future,” stated DCNA.

The Daily Herald.

You can read/download the report HERE.

 

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