The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance works to ensure the islands preserve their unique natural world through focused support and capacity building. Effective conservation requires exceptional management, and exceptional management requires objective, reliable data that can be used to measure progress and make critical decisions.
Establishing and utilizing effective geographic information systems (GIS) has been flagged as a pressing need of nature managers to achieve their conservation goals. Thus, from 2010, DCNA has assisted the nature management organizations in becoming GIS-capable.
The DCNA Geographical Data Development Project seeks to build on DCNA’s initial GIS efforts by organizing, collating and where necessary modifying essential regional-wide data and ensuring their usefulness to park and nature managers. The primary objective is to produce several key geo-referenced nature data layers for the Dutch Caribbean in a standardized style and format.
Thematic areas identified by DCNA include:
- Land topography – contoured land height
- Seabed bathymetry – contoured sea depth
- Land and sea tenure and jurisdiction – territorial and EEZ land and sea
- Geology – major geological attributes of the six islands
- Vegetation maps – translated and modified from CARMABI
- National parks – MPAs and TPAs, including zoning
- Recreational activity sites – diving, kayaking, fishing, hiking, bird watching, windsurfing/sailing, sailing (moorings).
- Basic island infrastructure – roads, airports, large industry
- Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
- Ramsar Sites
- World Heritage, and proposed World Heritage sites
- Key species habitat – as points (or polygons where possible) including: sea turtle nesting beaches, mangroves, elfin-cloud forest (Saba), sea bird nesting areas and others as determined by park managers.
For the first phase of this project, all existing GIS data has been reviewed, standarised and collated into data layers within the thematic areas outlined above.
DCNA has created a GIS User Manual. The role of this user manual is to help protected area and nature managers work with the available data, modify existing layers and create new data layers in the same style and format.
This project does not currently include the field collection of any new data or on site support. These, along with the creation, population and maintenance of an online data storage facility, have been identified as possible “next steps” in GIS workshops in 2010 on Bonaire and 2011 on Saba. Next steps for the development of DCNA GIS and capacity building have been identified in the 2011 Bonaire GIS workshop report.