Saba and St. Eustatius move to save coral reefs

A major environmental project is under way in St. Eustatius and Saba to reduce erosion and safe­guard endangered reefs around the two islands. The “Healthy and Resilient Marine and Coastal Eco­systems Through Refores­tation of St. Eustatius and Saba Project” will include the reforestation of areas stripped bare of vegetation due to land erosion caused by heavy rainfall.

“Due to large increases in above-ground water movement during heavy rainfall, along with the low abundance of vegetation on the islands, the near-shore coral reef ecosystems have been severely impacted,” said Statia’s Economy, Nature and Infrastructure (ENI) director Anthony Reid.

“In response to this im­pact, this project aims to enhance the ability of the governments and national parks foundations on both islands to respond to the needs of the marine envi­ronment through reforesta­tion. This will improve the ecosystem services, biodi­versity, and economic resil­ience of Statia and Saba.”

Non-governmental organ­isations and the public en­tities signed an agreement late last year, financed by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Resilience, Sustainable En­ergy and Marine Biodiver­sity Programme Resembid. This project is to benefit both Statia and Saba by reforesting erosion-prone, watershed and discharge areas, which in turn will slow and redirect water into below-ground aquifers in the denuded areas. It will also restrict the release of sediment onto surrounding coral reefs.

The project is to improve the resilience of both forest and coral reefs, for the ben­efit of residents.

The project is funded by 722,165 euros from the EU through its 11th European Development Fund pro­gramme, an aid package of 30.5 billion euros for African, Caribbean and Pa­cific countries and overseas countries and territories (OCTs).

The Dutch Caribbean is­lands’ undertaking falls directly under Resembid, a 69-month programme which started in 2019 to support the sustainable human development efforts of the 12 Caribbean OCT’s — Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Statia, St. Maarten and St. Barths. The implementing partner for Resembid is Expertise France, the French public agency for the design and implementation of inter­national technical coopera­tion projects, which signed an agreement with the pub­lic entity St. Eustatius late last year under which Statia will oversee implementa­tion of the venture.

St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation Stenapa will execute the project as part of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with the Statia gov­ernment. Other partners for this activity are the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) and the public entity Saba.

As part of the MOU, Sta­tia (8.1 square miles) and Saba (five square miles) will share expertise and ex­periences. Statia will also begin cultivation of plants for Saba, while that island builds the necessary infra­structure. Statia’s beekeep­ers will also train potential new beekeepers on Saba.

“Stenapa and SCF look forward to continuing, im­proving, and expanding our planting efforts, working on the experience and knowl­edge we’ve gained over the last few years. Working with the government and each other to reduce erosion around Statia and Saba will help safeguard our reefs, benefiting fishermen, div­ers, and everyone who val­ues our islands’ valuable marine environment,” said Stenapa director Erik Bow­man.

“Increasing biodiversity, especially of pollinators such as bees, will benefit not only Statia and Saba’s nature, but also help our agricultural sectors, and help towards improving our islands’ food security and hurricane resilience.”

The Daily Herald.

Minister Dijkgraaf concludes visit to Saba
Minister Dijkgraaf arrives on Saba

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