The path to coral recovery: the scientific foundation and a practical lesson

During the 2019 edition of the DCNA convention on Bonaire, biologists from local organizations such as Aruba National Park Foundation, STINAPA Bonaire, Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire, CARMABI Curaçao, Saba Conservation Foundation, Sint Maarten Nature Foundation and STENAPA and CNSI of Sint Eustatius will be united on October 28 for a full day of workshops. The central focus of the workshops is coral recovery, with insights from science and with best practices. The Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), Wageningen Marine Research (WMR) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) will also be present. In addition to their participation in the other workshops, Arjan de Groene (WWF-NL) will give a presentation about the coral action plan for the Caribbean Netherlands and Joseph Stuefer (NWO) will further elaborate on the upcoming call for scientific research proposals in the Dutch Caribbean. Hans Verdaat (WMR) will discuss the (citizen) science platform Observation that can be used to register all species.

Coral as a building block of the Antilles

Coral restoration is high on the agenda worldwide, and it certainly is in the Dutch Caribbean as well. The unique backyard of the Dutch Kingdom is built out of and surrounded by coral. Saba and Sint Eustatius are volcanic in origin. Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are made up of fossil coral structures from times when the sea level was higher. The Dutch Antillean civilization is therefore built on a historic coral reef of millions of years.

Importance of coral nowadays

Tourists have traditionally come to the Dutch Caribbean islands to admire the special nature, such as the coral reefs. In recent surveys of 2013, the economic value of the ecosystem services for Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius represented 31%, 63% and respectively 24% of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the islands. This clearly shows that nature is the engine of the economy and that also applies to Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten. If there is no adequate action against the current threats to nature, the value will decrease considerably, with major consequences for the well-being of the population.

Seeing the difference in person

As part of the solution to promote coral recovery, the Coral Restoration Foundation and Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire, among others, are focused on the future. Through a presentation and an organized field excursion from Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire, the biologists will get to see a fully tested and optimized method with their own eyes. This workshop gives the biologists a platform to exchange knowledge and experience about the different coral restoration programs on the Dutch Caribbean islands.

Public lecture: status of the coral reefs

First and foremost is the conviction that the status of the coral reefs is crucial for the sustainable prosperity of the islands in the long term. For anyone who is interested in and committed to the status of the coral reefs and would like to meet the regional experts in person, there is a public lecture by dr. Erik Meesters (Wageningen University and Research) on Monday October 28 from 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM at Captain Don’s hotel, Kralendijk, Bonaire.

Photo credit: Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire



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