Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands will pay a visit to Saba on Thursday 12 December and to St Eustatius on Friday 13 December. The visit to the two islands in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom will focus on nature conservation and social initiatives.
Thursday 12 December – Saba
On Thursday morning Princess Beatrix will open the Mary’s Point hiking trail in the new Mount Scenery National Park on Saba. The trail starts at Well’s Bay and continues to the abandoned settlement of Mary’s Point, founded in the seventeenth century. The more than two hundred log steps were built out of old electricity poles by staff and volunteers of the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF).
After this the Princess will meet a number of local fishermen in the harbour. Fishing is an important source of income on Saba. The island’s fishermen have made agreements on maintaining a healthy and sustainable fish stock. In 2017 they concluded an agreement setting out how fish stocks are to be managed, e.g. by introducing a fishing season for certain local species of fish.
In the afternoon, the Princess will visit the Saba Lace Ladies to see them demonstrate their bobbin lace-making skills. This technique is a Saban tradition and is interwoven with the island’s history. The women meet every Thursday to keep the tradition alive.
Princess Beatrix will then visit the botanical gardens. At the entrance to the gardens she will unveil a new information panel. Many tourists visit Saba for its nature. The botanical gardens allow those for whom the island’s hiking trails are too strenuous to nonetheless enjoy its natural splendour. This project has been carried out by the SCF. After unveiling the panel, the Princess will talk with staff and board members of the SCF and the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA).
Thursday 13 December – St Eustatius
On Friday morning Princess Beatrix will pay a visit to ReforeStatia, a reforestation project on St Eustatius. Here, cuttings of trees and plants that grow commonly on the island are propagated. Replanting and reforestation are necessary in order to combat erosion. Thousands of trees were destroyed by hurricane Irma in 2017 and remaining plants and tree roots have been damaged by escaped livestock. This means that in many places the soil is not held together, allowing it to erode.
The Princess will be given a tour of nearby Statia’s Earth Farm and Garden (SEFG) and visit the Made in Statia project. At SEFG children learn through play about nature, keeping animals and gardening. At Made in Statia the Princess will be given a presentation about a sustainable agricultural programme intended to provide fresh vegetables, fruit and meat for the local market. The organisation works together on this with other projects, including ReforeStatia and SEFG.
The Princess will speak with junior rangers, staff and volunteers of the St Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA) about the importance of local projects for nature conservation. They will also discuss knowledge- sharing and cooperation between the islands and the SCD, STENAPA and the DCNA. Princess Beatrix is the patron of the DCNA.
On Friday afternoon the Princess will visit the Daughters of the King (DOTK) Foundation, a Christian after-school centre that offers girls aged 5 to 12 a safe haven. She will also visit the Mega D Youth Foundation, which helps boys and girls aged up to 18 do their homework and develop their talents in the field of media, sports, debating, dance and music.
The Princess’s visit to St Eustatius will conclude with a joint musical performance by young people from various schools, foundations and youth organisations, including the Simon Donker Club, STENAPA Junior Rangers, DOTK and the Mega D Youth Foundation.
Royal House of The Netherlands.