The marine nature of the Caribbean Netherlands, and the ecosystem services derived from it, are the most important economic resources for Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius. However, they are under great pressure partly due to climate change, but also due to local causes such as increasing tourism, erosion, water use, pollution and eutrophication of coastal water. Tourism and population have increased exponentially over the past 40 years and biodiversity has declined sharply.
This deterioration of environmental quality was discussed in detail in the report "State of nature in the Caribbean Netherlands 2017 "1. The consequence of this large-scale decline is that the delivery of ecosystem services has deteriorated sharply, while these are precisely the basis of the local economy. Balancing fisheries, agriculture, tourism and water management with the natural capacity of the relevant ecosystems is therefore an urgent policy aim (KIA-LWV, Mission E, theme 2) for the Dutch Caribbean.
An integrated approach and better measurements of processes on land and in the sea are therefore indispensable in order to restore the balance through targeted interventions and to increase the resilience of nature, biodiversity and thus also of society. However, there is a lack of fundamental knowledge and an integrated approach to coastal management in the Caribbean Netherlands. In this project, a new infrastructure is being set up together with local stakeholders to better monitor the status of marine nature through smart technologies and citizen science. The intended infrastructure will be used to measure the effects of land and sea use and management measures on ecosystem services and to optimize nature management. This project will contribute to the sustainability of agriculture, tourism and fishing and the adapative capacity to climate change of the islands.
The project "Resilience Restoration of Nature and Society in the Caribbean Netherlands" contributes to halting the decline of the coral reefs in the Caribbean Netherlands, improving the dependent ecosystem services and ensuring capacity building on the islands. An extensive monitoring network is being set up together with island organizations and companies to better keep a finger on the pulse of marine nature, to support nature policy and prevent negative effects, to optimize coral recovery and to build capacity on site. Coral reef restoration supports the economy and also provides coastal protection. Healthy resilient coral reefs are more resistant to the effects of climate change and thus contribute to a resilient economy. The knowledge development uses the latest technologies in remote sensing, underwater equipment, genetics, chemistry and data processing.