On Saturday the 2nd of December the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation gave an update to Their Majesties King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands on the environmental impacts and the organization’s activities post Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Royal Couple, accompanied by State Secretary for Kingdom Relations Mr. Henk Knopps, were in Sint Maarten to get an idea how the island is recovering after suffering catastrophic damage during the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The Royals were also interested in the impacts on nature and the measures the Nature Foundation has been taking to address challenges facing the natural areas of Sint Maarten.
“We were very honored to be able to present the challenges we have been facing and our activities to address those challenges to both Their Majesties. We especially gave an explanation as to the fact that our environment, that which makes us unique as a destination and as a country and that which contributes significantly to our economy, has suffered significantly due to both hurricanes. We explained the impacts on our wetlands, coral reefs and seagrass beds and gave an update on the activities we have been undertaking to clean and restore these critical ecosystems. We also explained that, unfortunately, due to Climate Change the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom will continue to experience more numerous and more intense storms and that we as Caribbean People are at the forefront of the climate issue,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Manager of the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation.
The presentation to the Royals was given in a mangrove area in the Simpson Bay Lagoon, Sint Maarten’s most important wetland and one which was extensively damaged due to Hurricane Irma, “We made sure to highlight the important link between the environment and the economy and the need to rebuild more resilient and more sustainable. Both the King and the Queen were very open and very curious to know what steps will be taken to make Sint Maarten into a more sustainable, conservation oriented and climate resilient island after the devastation caused by both Irma and Maria, “concluded Bervoets.