Last week the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) and World Wide Fund for Nature the Netherlands (WWF-NL) joined forces with Wolfs Company to assist the Nature Foundation Sint Maarten (NFSXM) with strengthening their ability to achieve sustainable financing for nature management in St Maarten.
Nature Foundation staff and board members and representatives from the VROMI Policy Department, the Tourist Bureau and Maritime Affairs came together under the guidance of the Wolfs Company to establish sustainable finance mechanisms for the Nature Foundation St. Maarten and their task to manage nature. “The workshop was a great success due to all the actively involved stakeholders and the leadership of the Wolfs Company, we now have developed several strategies, short-term and long-term, to increase revenue and capacity within the Nature Foundation in order to improve nature management and conservation. In addition, a very successful stakeholder meeting was hold on the last day of the workshop, to seek support and additional input and to present about the importance of nature conservation to the business community. Several companies and business did see the significance of our environment and nature to the economy, tourism and for our residents, and therefore offered their support in various unexpected and welcome ways. The next step will be the implementation of the developed strategies, hopefully also with the assistance of stakeholders and businesses” stated Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern Manager of the Nature Foundation St. Maarten.
Similar to other protected areas in the Caribbean, the organizations that manage the nature parks in the Dutch Caribbean (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius and St. Maarten) face a structural shortage of financing to fulfil their nature management tasks, the Nature Foundation St. Maarten faces the greatest financial challenge. On the other hand, nature in all these islands is the basis for their economic and social development, as they are the key asset for the tourism sector, thereby creating jobs and generating funds for the government from related taxes. They also provide key attractions for tourism, cultural and recreational opportunities for residents, food, coastal protection, disaster protection and other services like climate and erosion control and key habitat for biodiversity. By managing these parks, nature management organizations maintain all these services functioning, while assisting the local governments with their obligations under international conventions and treaties to maintain nature.
On St. Maarten some of these challenges include: insufficient financial support to increase capacity and conduct all assigned task, no overview of the financing gap, insufficient capacity within the park management authorities to actually undertake activities to identify and implement feasible financing and obstacles for putting financing mechanisms in practice. In an effort to overcome some of these challenges, WWF-NL and DCNA have funded a project to assist the Nature Foundation St. Maarten in strengthening their strategies to achieve sustainable financing of the Nature in St. Maarten. The Wolfs Company brought in their expertise in conservation finance and facilitated the workshop. The objective of the project is to address the challenges identified for the implementation of financing mechanisms to support protected area management, with the ultimate goal of supporting the parks’ management to develop and implement a sustainable financing strategy.