|Environmental Protection in the Caribbean||
|Environmental Protection in the Caribbean||
The partnership between the Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) and the local non-profit foundation Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) was strengthened by the signing of the collaborative agreement to promote sustainable tourism through the Blue Flag and Green Key eco-label awards.
The event was held at Holland House Beach Hotel in Philipsburg, the newest Green Key awarded site for Sint Maarten, in anticipation of the official Green Key Award ceremony and sustainability expo which acknowledges the exceptional efforts of the awardees, being in the forefront of sustainable tourism for the hotel industry.
The event, to be held in May, will also award Princess Heights Luxury Boutique Condo Hotel for its third consecutive year as a Green Key Hotel.
Both parties were excited to finalize the long-awaited agreement which highlights the dedication, support and advocacy for the Green Key and Blue Flag programs amongst tourism businesses in St. Maarten.
The Collaboration agreement was signed by Mr. Rueben J. Thompson, EPIC Executive Board Treasurer and Paul J. Henriquez, SHTA Executive Board and was witnessed by Fleur Hermanides, Executive Board member of EPIC and project manager of SXM DOET and Wyb Meijer, SHTA Executive Director.
“EPIC has been working for many years to further develop sustainable tourism for Sint Maarten and SHTA has been a key partner in that effort. We appreciate the vision and concern of SHTA in committing to promoting best practices among its members and their customers. To really stand out from the crowd, St. Maarten can offer not just the standard Caribbean sun, sand, and sea, but an environmentally-responsible experience that guests can feel proud to support, further building their ties to the island," noted the President of EPIC, Natalia Collier.
The SHTA Board Member Paul Henriquez commented “This collaboration represents the effort of the SHTA to support and promote sustainability amongst its members and to work with EPIC towards making the environment of St. Maarten a better place for the community”.
Environmental Protection in the Caribbean is the National Operator for the international Green Key award for accommodations and restaurants and international Blue Flag award for marinas, boats and beaches, which is managed globally by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
Any business interested in learning more about applying for the award programs can visit www.epicislands.org or contact EPIC’s Eco-label Coordinator, Ms. Elisa Oldani on (721) 554-0742 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hurricane Matthew, an immense Atlantic Hurricane, barreled into Haiti with its full fury in October 2016. Winds of 150 miles per hour coupled with feet of rain wreaked havoc on the impoverished island nation, knocking buildings over, flooding farms, and leaving a path of destruction as it moved over the county.
The small village of Boukan Chat, where EPIC has been working on Black-capped Petrel conservation for the last four years, took a direct hit from a large mass of rain as the storm passed over the island. The associated flooding from the storm caused massive mud slides and high winds caused the destruction and loss of many roofs. Thankfully, no lives were lost in the village but destruction to property and farms was widespread. Almost 100% of the annual crops in the village were destroyed during the storm.
EPIC and its partners Plant with Purpose and Grupo Jaragua have been working with farmers in Boukan Chat to create farm structures which protects soil during storms. Many areas farmers had placed these soil retention systems were spared during the storm. In fact, a fair number of farmers using the soil retention bars successfully harvested crops and were able to provide for their families. This example of successful conservation farming reduces financial pressure on communities living near colonies of the endangered Black-capped Petrel, a secretive seabird which returns to its mountain burrow nest at night. Our goal is for people and petrels to thrive while living side by side, conserving essential forest nesting habitat which also prevents erosion on nearby farms.
EPIC just returned from Boukan Chat where we continued our work with farmers to protect petrel habitat. We look forward to working with additional farmers, increasing the use of soil retention systems on farms, and improving the odds for protecting petrel populations.
Additionally, we met with teachers with whom we work to educate the youth of the community. We created a blueprint EPIC’s educators will follow over the next year to continue teaching the primary school aged children about land conservation topics. A local artist created stunning murals on water cisterns, cisterns sponsored by our supporters, showing the beauty and majesty of the rarely seen petrel.
Furthermore, while in Boukan Chat, we carried out radar surveys to monitor petrel population trends and located petrel nests in the community that we will follow throughout the nesting season. The Save the Devil film team followed our work, capturing the continuing story of petrel and land conservation issues and efforts.
This season marks the seventh year EPIC has been working to conserve Black-capped Petrels on Hispaniola. Working alongside conservation partners, education experts, and villagers, we have made a substantial impact towards conserving Black-capped Petrels. The future of petrels in the Caribbean looks hopeful and we’ll continue working towards a brighter future for the wildlife and people of this region.
Help EPIC reach it's fundraising goal by the deadline of May 1, 2017. It's easy, donate online!
Sewage is gross, right? We don't want it in the ocean, right? Well, Slurpy is here to help! This sewage pumpout boat comes when boaters call because their sewage tank is full and they need to get rid of the waste. Once Slurpy's tank is full, she heads back to pump her tank out into a larger, safe and secure land-based tank. This waste is then taken by a septic truck to a wastewater treatment facility to get cleaned up.
It's a process, but one we think is much needed, considering how much pollution is going into the Simpson Bay Lagoon. There is a lot of land-based sewage too, but at least we are doing what we can to address boat-based sewage. Boaters in the Lagoon want this service, too, otherwise they have to wait for the bridge to open to go out to sea or just dump it where they are (yuck). Our survey of boaters showed that 86% would use the service and customers are lining up to take advantage of this much-needed service.
Sewage pollution causes a bad odor, transmits diseases, creates mats of algae, and reduces oxygen in the water for fish and other sea creatures. We already see some of these problems in the Lagoon, but it doesn't have to be this way.
With donations from the community, we were able to buy Slurpy, which was really exciting. The thing is, now we need to make sure she is running well. We recently had to upgrade her batteries and then there's insurance, which may not sound that interesting but we were so glad to have it when Hurricane Gonzalo knocked out Slurpy a couple years ago.
As our customer base continues to grow, Slurpy will become self-sustaining. But for now, we really need your support to make sure she keep doing her job, keeping pollution out of the Lagoon. Thank you for caring!