The pristine nature of the Dutch Caribbean contains the richest biodiversity in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The diverse ecosystems are a magnet for tourism and at the same time the most important source of income for the islanders. According to a report by the World Resources Institute (WRI) the tourism and ecological value of all the coral reefs of the Dutch Caribbean is estimated to represent an economic value of US$24–144 million per year (WRI, 2004). Nature conservation, then, is not a luxury, but an essential part of the Dutch Caribbean’s sustainable economic and social development.
Providing sustainable and regular funding to cover the operating costs of the organizations managing the marine and terrestrial protected areas (Parks) on the six islands has proven to be a challenge as the funds strongly depend on one-time project subsidies, limited ad hoc financial assistance from local government authorities and fluctuating revenues from tourism.
These uncertainties made it virtually impossible for park management organizations to draft long-term plans, create systematic protected area management structures (including the recruitment and retention of qualified personnel from the local community and elsewhere), and even threatened the very survival of some organizations. Since 1998 the conservation organizations and the Antilles Environment and Nature Department have therefore argued for the establishment of a trust fund as one of the most appropriate sustainable strategies for resolving this financial impasse.
After a study positively assessed the feasibility of a trust fund, the fund was created accordingly in 2006. A dedicated Trust Fund bank account was setup with the Rabobank in the Netherlands. The capital is locked in for a defined period and cannot be used to solve short-term funding needs. Revenues from the fund are reinvested (not withdrawn from the Trust Fund), and will be until 2016, when a review will take place. A Trust Fund Committee was created by DCNA and provides coordination, leadership and decision making power throughout this process. The Dutch Ministry of the Interior contributes €750,000 annually (until 2016).
DCNA became beneficiary of the Dutch Postcode Lottery in February 2009. From each annual donation of €500,000 from the Lottery, €200,000 is deposited straight into DCNA’s Trust Fund account.