DUTCH CARIBBEAN—The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) held its 18th Board meeting last week where representatives from Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten took stock in regional conservation activities and outlined new strategies to meet their goals.
Joining DCNA Board members Tadzio Bervoets of the St. Maarten Nature Foundation and Rueben Thompson of the Emilio Wilson Estate Foundation was the Honorable Governor Holiday of St. Maarten, a DCNA Honorary Patron. At the meeting Governor Holiday voiced his support for nature conservation, “The work you are doing is great for the islands. I encourage you to keep up the good work. You can count on my support.” St. Maarten special guests Fleur Hermanides of the Department of Public Health, Jadira Veen of the Emilio Wilson Estate Foundation Board and Claire Hooft Graafland of the Department of Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure also participated in the meeting.
DCNA, which is made up of the parks and conservation organizations of the Dutch Caribbean, came to existence in 2005 when the St. Eustatius National Parks (STENAPA) ran out of money and was forced suddenly to close its doors. That shocking moment galvanized conservationists across the six islands. Overcoming their differences, the parks created DCNA, a unified regional network with an unparalleled approach and a purpose that didn’t stop at any island’s shoreline.
“We have made invaluable progress towards reaching our goals, but we still have big issues to overcome – the parks are still underfunded and often struggle to maintain the critical activities that protect our fragile nature areas and species,” explained Kalli De Meyer, DCNA’s Executive Director. “This meeting provided an opportunity to examine our activities and chart a path for the future of our organization.”
Since 2005 DCNA has worked to:
- Develop a trust fund for conservation – a dedicated Trust Fund account has been established which, once capitalized will support the operational costs of one terrestrial and one marine park on each of the six islands.
- Promote the islands nationally and internationally – one highlight of the meeting was the launch of a new nature and conservation website and blog at www.dcnanature.org.
- Build local capacity to undertake nature management – DCNA has run over 50 trainings and workshops on topics as broad-ranging as bird monitoring, nature education, sea turtle conservation, social media, coral reef monitoring and accounting.
Tadzio Bervoets, who has been on the DCNA Board for three years stated after the meeting, “DCNA is breaking barriers—with the government, between islands, and among organizations—to lay the stepping stones for a unified approach to nature conservation. By sharing resources, skills and experience, engaging park staff in joint projects, through lobbying, and fundraising, DCNA works to make sure that resources never again get in the way of our staff doing their job.”
The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance is a nonprofit, regional network of parks and conservation organizations with a common goal: to safeguard nature.