Netherlands Red Cross in collaboration with the Nature Foundation introduces the Re-greening St Maarten Project.

Recently a project to create a greener and more resilient island was launched by the Netherlands Red Cross in collaboration with the Nature Foundation St. Maarten. The Project “Re-greening SXM” aims to restore and build environmental resilience here on St. Maarten and will be executed this year. The Re-greening SXM Project is part of the Disaster Risk Reduction Project designed by the Netherlands Red Cross. The project is financed by donations collected by the Netherlands Red Cross for St. Maarten after Hurricane Irma. The project will be focused to ensure ways in which community environments will be better adapted to withstand future hazards and natural disasters.             

“The Nature Foundation is very excited and grateful to be part of this important project of the Red Cross, as it will enhance our natural habitats and the environment, creating a more sustainable future. Our nature assists us to protect our island from disasters, such as flooding and storms, their enrichment is critical in the way to recovery and is needed to be prepared for future disasters. Without our natural vegetation, trees, mangroves and coral reefs, our island would experience much larger impacts from flooding’s, erosion and storms, therefore nature restoration activities are of utmost significance for St Maarten” stated Nature Foundation’s Manager Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.

The Re-greening project will be conducted mainly through restoration of natural and native vegetation. Land degradation results in soil erosion and vegetative damage which in turn creates higher risk of flooding. Vegetation restoration mitigates these impacts, builds resilience, and restores proper ecosystem functions. “We know that the natural environment is absolutely crucial to being able to withstand hazards. If you only look at flooding caused by heavy rains: a soil that has a lot of tree roots will absorb much more rainwater than grass ever can. Not to mention that the trees will also provide shade for humans and a home for birds. By doing all this, we contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 15 while also reducing existing disaster risk by reducing vulnerability as per the Sendai Framework. So, the Red Cross is funding this because it will make St Maarten less vulnerable to natural hazards, but everybody wins if we restore some greenery around the island!” said Tamas Marki Project Manager of the DRR Project at the Netherlands Red Cross.

Other techniques will involve the several community clean-ups and campaign activities in order to create awareness. The public will be further notified of these events via the Nature Foundation’s Facebook page (Nature Foundation St. Maarten), the Foundation will need the assistance of volunteers for different parts of this project. “For this project, I will focus on creating a community where natural vegetation is enhanced. I will be assessing current conditions on the island and will select the more vulnerable communities to undergo ecological restoration. The goal is to make certain that the community’s environment will be able to combat future hazards. I would also like to express that it is with high hopes that all the clean-ups being planned for the near future will bring more awareness to the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle motto” voiced Ernika van Putten Project Leader of the Re-greening SXM Project.

Often enough, pollution along with soil run-off creates a blockade in the drainages. This ends up slowing down or completely stopping the water flow through these drainages. With heavy rains and hurricane winds added to this equation pollution from afar also ends up in the drainages. Therefore, proper disposal of waste everywhere is super important. For our environment to stay healthy, the community as a majority needs to take initiative on keeping the island clean. If resilience is built, restored, and maintained in our environment, rest ashore that our environment will become better equipped to lessen the impacts of disasters on our homes. This makes for a much safer and better prepared community. Therefore, both the Red Cross and the Nature Foundation are excited and honoured to launch the re-greening project and are looking forward to receiving assistance from the community to implement this important project.