PHILIPSBURG:--- Sint Maarten will work to advance its progress towards sustainable and resilient management of the island’s coastal and marine environment through a €633,000 research-based project supported by the RESEMBID grant programme.
The Coastal Resilience Needs Assessment (CORENA) project is a partnership between the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment, and Infrastructure (VROMI), and the non-profit conservation organization Nature Foundation St. Maarten.
CORENA will provide a basis for the St. Maarten government to develop evidence-based policies and plans for the sustainable management of the marine and coastal zones. This may include formal marine spatial planning, a critical process that offers guidelines on how ocean resources and zones are best utilized and shared. The outputs obtained from CORENA can help ensure the sustainability of natural ecosystems, local fisheries, commercial shipping, tourism industries, building infrastructure, and public health.
Two contractors will conduct extensive studies to understand the current state and ecological value of the marine and coastal environment. This will include a detailed inventory of the terrestrial species found on the island, as well as an assessment of the risks and vulnerabilities faced by the natural and built environment – including consequences of climate change, pollution, and overdevelopment.
The research will be used to support the development of possible management scenarios and professional recommendations regarding how the coastal area could be better stewarded by the government and relevant stakeholders. Selected VROMI officials will also receive training on utilizing sophisticated geographic information systems (GIS) for effective spatial planning.
A full-time CORENA team, which is based at the Nature Foundation office, is currently carrying out three sub-projects in the realms of science, sociology, and education. Staff members are mapping the underwater coastal area and assessing the health of the coral reef, seagrass, and mangrove ecosystems around St. Maarten. In addition, the team is developing a public study designed to understand and address certain unsustainable community and individual behaviors that impact the marine environment.
“In partnership with the Nature Foundation St. Maarten, it became key to address a critical research gap that has long hindered the development of sustainable policies for our coastal and marine environment. The CORENA project, made possible by the RESEMBID grant, is a beacon of hope for a sustainable future,” commented Minister of VROMI Egbert J. Doran. “This research will empower our coastal environment and foster a resilient legacy for Sint Maarten. It is a pivotal step in ensuring the harmony of our ecosystems, boosting local industries, and securing a brighter future for our island, rooted in evidence-based policies.”
CORENA was made possible through funding by the European Union through the regional RESEMBID Programme. RESEMBID projects are implemented by Expertise France, the development cooperation agency of the Government of France that supports sustainable human development efforts in twelve Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs), including Aruba, Anguilla, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Montserrat, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Barthélemy, Sint Maarten, and Turks and Caicos.