Caribbean Netherlands nature is doing average to very bad

Nature in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba is not doing too well with the key threats be­ing invasive species, roam­ing livestock and climate change, stated Dutch Min­ister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Carola Schouten on Monday.

In the sixth progress re­port “Nature in the Neth­erlands. Status of affairs late 2019, developments in 2020″ that she sent to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, the min­ister dedicated one of the 55 pages to nature in the Caribbean Netherlands. Despite the 23 projects that were carried out on the three islands in the period 2013 to 2019 in the area of agriculture, ecosys­tem recovery and tourism to strengthen nature, the goals have not been met. A total amount of 7.5 million euro was available for the projects.

The projects involved, among other things, in­vestments in improving the accessibility of the new Mount Scenery National Park in Saba, strengthening the St. Eustatius National Park Foundation STENA­PA and the development of agriculture and the meal areas in Bonaire. “Still, we are not where we want to be. Nature is doing aver­age to very bad,” Minister Schouten stated in the re­port.

In 2019, the Dutch govern­ment, in close consultation with the islands, drafted a Nature and Environment Policy Plan NMPB for the period 2020-2030. The NMPB is an integral plan for land and water, and in­volves nature, environment and spatial planning. The Dutch government and the public entities are working on establishing concrete execution agendas for the individual islands.

On the request of the Sec­ond Chamber, the coral re­covery plan is also part of the NMBP. Healthier coral reefs produce more fish, strengthen the coastline protection and enhance tourism. The Dutch gov­ernment has allocated 7.2 million euro from the Re­gional Envelop to carry out the coral recovery plan. Roaming livestock, mainly goats, muse erosion and sedimentation which is a threat to the coral reefs, while desertification (the drying out of green areas) adversely impacts nature and agriculture, it was stat­ed in the report.

In 2019, the Dutch govern­ment and the public entity Bonaire initiated a project to professionalise the keep­ing of goats so these animals no longer have to graze in general, public areas. The Dutch government and the public entities will be working on removing free roaming cattle from public space. A goat control pro­gramme has already been initiated in Saba.

The report mentioned the visit of Minister Schouten to Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba in September 2019. In Saba, she per­formed the official start for the hydroponics farm and she announced the formali­sation of the Mt. Scenery National Park.

The Ministry of Agri­culture, Nature and Food Quality LNV carries the end responsibility for the execution of international nature treaties. The islands mostly carry out the nature policy and management, with the assistance of the various nature preservation organisations.

The Daily Herald.

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