Fresh Pond

Fresh Pond is a permanent freshwater pond located in northern part of Philipsburg, just west of Great Salt Pond. It covers an area of 2 hectares and is up to 3 metres deep in the centre. The southern and western edges of the pond are fringed with Red Mangrove trees (Rhizophora mangle). The artificial islands at each end of the pond are also vegetated with mangroves. Fresh Pond is considered to be a regionally significant site as it is one of the few permanent freshwater wetlands in the Netherlands Antilles. It is however a public space and therefore does not receive any form of protection; the area around it is privately owned and completely developed.

Birdlife International has designated Fresh Pond as an Important Bird Area for St. Maarten. The area has been denominated as IBA AN002. Due to its low salinity, Fresh Pond supports bird species that are less common in other parts of St. Maarten and the Lesser Antilles. The area has been identified as especially significant for its breeding population of endangered Caribbean Coot (Fulica caribaea). Fresh Pond also supports populations of many waterbirds including the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps), Great Egret (Casmerodius albus), White-cheeked Pintail (Anas bahamensis) and Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis). The artificial islands at each end of the pond provide popular nesting sites for waterbirds. The tall mangrove trees in the area provide a roosting habitat for egrets and herons.

Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) has been conducting regular counts of waterbird populations at Fresh Pond each winter since 2001. The Nature Foundation has planted mangrove trees at the site, and in partnership with EPIC and with funding from Royal Caribbean, the Nature Foundation has also constructed a bird observation tower and educational signage at Fresh Pond.

Source: BirdLife International. (2008). Important Bird Areas in the Caribbean: Key sites for Conservation. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International. (BirdLife Conservation Series No. 15).
Mangroves - Areas, Special Conservation Areas, St. Maarten Special Areas