Creating Resilient Coastal Ecosystems
One of the long-term goals for the Dutch Caribbean is to improve the resilience of coastal ecosystems to climate change by 2030. In order to achieve this goal, we focus on the following long-term objectives.
Reduce Man-made Threats to Coastal Ecosystems
WWF-NL aims to reduce pressure on coastal ecosystems in the Dutch Caribbean by working with local stakeholders. Reducing local pressures on coastal ecosystems including coral reefs and mangroves, is the basis of our strategy in this region. Although the threats are many, we will focus on improving water quality of the coastal seas. This is because increased nutrients in the water and sedimentation from land-based run-off are the most destructive local pressures for coral reefs. Wastewater treatment and structural water quality monitoring are important aspects in this case. Within our limited capacity, our aim is to facilitate the upscaling of projects currently executed in Bonaire (e.g., the Water Circles project), to the other two BES islands, as well as to Curaçao, Aruba, and St. Maarten (the CAS islands).
Besides focusing on wastewater, we also aim to reduce threats of marine litter by advocating that other countries in the region adopt marine litter monitoring. The monitoring data can be used in the future to identify trends and to determine whether local reduction measures are effective. Where possible, WWF-NL will implement and facilitate practical (grassroots) projects like helping fishermen to improve sustainability of fishery practices and supporting local government with the implementation of nature-based solutions. WWF-DC furthermore aims to ensure the development of long-term visions and strategies from national and local governments regarding wastewater, fisheries and spatial (coastal) development. These visions and strategies should be nature inclusive and climate resilient.
Improve Coral Health and Restore Coastal Habitats
We will initiate and continue to promote innovative projects by supporting, funding, and executing seagrass, mangrove and coral restoration projects as well as projects on associated coral reef species. Coral restoration is a tool that could safeguard coral (species) for the long term. Furthermore, we will explore the possibilities to collect and restore grazers (e.g., surgeon fishes, queen conch and sea urchins), as they play a vital role in keeping the coral reefs healthy by grazing algae of these reefs. We must work with nature to find solutions that can benefit people, nature, and animals. Examples are setting up projects on all six islands to restore seagrass and to conserve mangrove forests which provide nurseries for fish and protect nearby homes against storm damage.