Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI), has placed the first issued “Sint Maarten’s Nature Policy Plan” on public review for one-month to facilitate communication with all stakeholders.
The document serves as a framework for management and development of nature on Sint Maarten from 2021-2025.
The overall objective of the Nature Policy Plan Sint Maarten 2021 – 2025 is to ensure that nature is managed in a sustainable way so that the ecosystems and ecosystem services can be preserved and, where possible, enhanced.
The policy aims to achieve this through drawing attention to the socio-economic and human well-being benefits of sound nature
management to promote the integration of nature into all sectors of society, from spatial planning, to tourism, to education, to energy generation etc.
As this is the first Nature Policy Plan published as country Sint Maarten, it embraces a range of ambitious policy objectives that were developed in collaboration with relevant stakeholders and originates from the local, regional, and international obligations that Sint Maarten must adhere to.
Key policy objectives related to biodiversity conservation, restoration and management include working towards strengthening the protection of sensitive species and ecosystems, managing the impacts of invasive species, as well as the increased creation, restoration, and management of protected areas. To provide an evidence-base for effective and continued policy development, specific policy objectives also focus on improving research and monitoring and call for a number of studies such as a baseline biodiversity assessment of the marine and terrestrial resources, additional economic valuations of natural resources and the active and routine monitoring of key environmental indicators.
This improved understanding of the natural environment will directly feed into the specific policy objective calling for legislative improvements to ensure that policy and legislation related to nature are robust, comprehensive, enforceable, and updated to the current context.
Integrating nature into developmental strategies is another key policy objective that focuses on making Environmental Impact
Assessments (EIAs) mandatory for select developmental activities, harnessing Nature-based solutions (NBS) to address appropriate challenges and improving the awareness of geospatial data of nature values to inform development planning and decision-making.
With the impacts of climate change becoming more apparent, a policy objective focuses on integrating climate change into national planning and harnessing nature for adaptation, through ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) – for example, the preservation and restoration of remaining ponds to act as water catchments during flood events which are expected to increase in intensity due to climate change.
Additional policy objectives include improving the sustainability and resilience of the tourism sector and improving the public awareness about nature through creating and centralizing information about nature and ecotourism opportunities and working towards integrating teaching materials about the natural environment into the school curriculum.
These policy objectives reflect the needs extracted from nature inventory efforts that recognized varied hazardous realities of country Sint Maarten’s natural environment. In recent years, critical areas of habitat for flora and fauna of Sint Maarten have been lost or degraded, contributing to the global threat of many unique species and habitats found on Sint Maarten.
This has resulted in a significant reduction of biodiversity and reduced the environment making it more vulnerable to natural disasters. Interventions are pivotal for natural environmental
restoration. Similarly, a clean, healthy, and resilient natural environment propels a prosperous tourism industry, a robust economy, and ultimately a high quality of life for the people of Sint Maarten.
In accordance with the national Nature Ordinance (Landsverordening grondslagen natuurbeheer en –bescherming (AB 2015, no. 9), the Department of Policy has mobilized the realization of the Minister of VROMI to adopt a national Nature Policy Plan (Natuurbeleidsplan) and a Nature Plan (Natuurplan) as is required once every five years.
A Nature Policy Plan serves as a general framework for nature policy and the Nature Plan must outline the tangible activities that will be realized during the planning period to achieve the objectives and priorities of the Nature Policy Plan.
The aforementioned documents have been placed on public review at the office of the Government Administration Building, Soualiga Road #1, Pond Island, Great Bay and on the government website for a period of thirty (30) days.