On Friday, January 20th, 2023, Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Mr. Robbert Dijkgraaf, visited the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) office on Bonaire. After a meet & greet with the staff, the DCNA was given the opportunity to highlight the importance of research and monitoring, local nature conservation organizations and working together to safeguard nature within the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom.
Arno Verhoeven, director of the DCNA, stressed that there are only a few remaining cooperative bodies between the six islands of the Dutch Caribbean, and that the main reason DCNA works is a common understanding of nature and a willingness to share knowledge. “Actually, the Dutch Caribbean has a lot when it comes to science and research. All these passionate people working in conservation on the islands have one thing in common, their drive to protect nature – and nature has no boundaries. The knowledge and skills they accumulate in this network is enormous and their willingness to share is part of this drive. With six major nature organizations, we are an important regional knowledge centre.” says Verhoeven.
The Dutch Caribbean is home to a wide variety of unique animal and plant species. Many of these are endangered due to loss of habitat, pollution, overgrazing and the impact of invasive species, climate change and other stressors. To manage the islands’ natural resources islands wisely and sustainably, knowledge about the complex and fragile ecosystems in the Dutch Caribbean is essential. Especially when these resources are used to support local communities and form the basis for the economic wellbeing of the islands. Therefore, research, monitoring, communication, and outreach play a crucial role. Science is a strong component in any nature programme, and when looking for more funding, it is a cornerstone of any application.
The DCNA is a non-profit organization created to protect the natural environment and to promote sustainable management of natural resources, both on land and in the water, on the six Dutch Caribbean islands. The alliance works with local park management organizations (parks) and other nature conservation organizations. It is also a representative for the local parks when dealing with governments, policy makers, or when engaging with regional or international organizations on a multi-island level.
One of the core tasks of the DCNA is to promote and facilitate permanent dialogue, knowledge sharing, training, and cooperation between the parks. DCNA’s Research & Monitoring Working Group provides a platform where biologists of the parks meet to share experiences, knowledge, and advice regarding research and monitoring. Additionally, this group works to harmonize scientifically sound monitoring protocols for the most important biodiversity indicators (species and habitats), develops analysis tools and strategies to guide researchers (and funders) in their design and conduct of research and monitoring in the Dutch Caribbean.
“We also support research and monitoring in the Dutch Caribbean by helping to improve communication and outreach. For example, we make scientific information more accessible through the Dutch Caribbean Biodiversity Database (DCBD), the news platform BioNews and other media channels. We are thankful to the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality (LNV) for supporting this work” commented Tineke van Bussel, DCNA’s Research and Communication Liaison.
“As a regional network spanning the Dutch Caribbean, and with a long working relationship with the local conservation community, DCNA is uniquely positioned to contribute towards the development and successful implementation of science initiatives in the region. We want to strengthen our work as a regional knowledge centre and would welcome more means to serve our stakeholders.” explains Arno Verhoeven.