The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) recently sent its Patroness Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix a memo on the state of the six Protected Area Management Organizations in the Dutch Caribbean, particularly with regards to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The DCNA updated Princess Beatrix especially on the significant financial challenges faced by the Protected Area Management organizations due to the pandemic. The organizations play a critical role in the management of the natural resources central to the sustainable development of the islands but may not survive the COVID-19 crisis in their current capacity. Governments are urged to consider providing structural financial support so that the Protected Area Management Organizations can continue their vital work of safeguarding nature in the Dutch Caribbean.
The Protected Area Management Organizations, Aruba National Parks Foundation, STINAPA Bonaire, CARMABI Curaçao, STENAPA St. Eustatius, the Saba Conservation Foundation and the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation, have been severely negatively impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic. All Protected Area Management Organizations in the Dutch Caribbean have seen both a significant drop in income due to the disappearance of User Fees but also due to the non-consideration by local, national, and Kingdom Governments on structural funding for the execution of their critical conservation work. This has resulted in the real possibility of Protected Area Management Organizations having to scale back or cease operations. This while the Dutch Caribbean is, according to the Convention of Biological Diversity, the most biodiverse area of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The DCNA, as do her partner organizations of Worldwide Fund for Nature the Netherlands (WWF-NL) and Vogelbescherming Nederland, emphasize that:
– Quality of nature in Dutch Caribbean is deteriorating on all fronts
– The existing efforts and associated financing has not been able to halt this decline
– Protected Area Management Organizations are severely underfunded and may not survive the COVID-19 crisis
– There is a need for a coordinated, Kingdom wide effort for the conservation of nature in the Dutch Caribbean, the biodiversity hotspot of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Board and Staff of DCNA has been working diligently in assisting the Protected Nature Management Organizations amidst the crisis. Amongst others, in collaboration with WWF-NL and Wolfs Company, DCNA has been providing STINAPA, the Saba Conservation Foundation, STENAPA and the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation with an analysis of their financial situation during the COVID19 pandemic in order to identify the gaps in terms of financing. This study shows that there is a chance that the Protected Area Management Organizations may not survive the COVID-19 crisis in their current capacity.
The situation for the Protected Area Management Organizations is dire. The impacts of COVID19 has been significant for the organizations who, despite this, continue their conservation activities. Due to the work being executed by the DCNA Network the impacts have been somewhat mitigated, but there is a significant risk of closure and the ceasing of activities.
The DCNA hopes that discussions regarding liquidity support and financial relief packages will also include considerations for the continuity of protected area management in the Dutch Caribbean. Protection, management and conservation of the Dutch Caribbean’s vitally important natural resources will be critical to repairing damaged economies after COVID-19 pandemic.