The natural areas in the Caribbean Netherlands are currently at risk. Many different ecosystems are under severe threat: coral reefs, seagrass beds, cloud forests, and many more. The coral reefs, which are crucial for tourism, coastal protection, biodiversity, and the fishing industry, are a significant source of income. The main causes of the loss biodiversity are invasive species, overfishing, overgrazing by stray goats and donkeys, climate change, coastal development, waste, diseases, and nutrients.
Wageningen Marine Research conducts research on the coral reefs of the Caribbean Netherlands. The research primarily focuses on comprehensive biodiversity assessments, early detection of potential threats, and habitat restoration. For example, over the past 40 years, the living coral colonies in Curaçao and Bonaire have declined by 70% to an average coverage area of around 10%.
By gaining insights into how the coral ecosystem functions and how each individual marine organism contributes to such a diverse ecosystem, our researchers are able to provide valuable input for an effective, scientifically-based environmental policy. Our historical scientific knowledge of the entire Caribbean region also plays a part in the promising pilot studies for local coral recovery.