A new project aims to assess key land areas for biodiversity on St. Maarten. The foundation Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) has been selected to conduct the terrestrial baseline biodiversity assessment, as part of the CORENA project. The CORENA project (Coastal Resilience and Needs Assessments) was initiated by the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) and is being executed in partnership with the Nature Foundation, through the European Union supported RESEMBID grant programme.
The objective of the CORENA project is to provide information to guide sustainable management of various habitats found in Sint Maarten, with several components. The Nature Foundation has started mapping the seafloor to observe seagrass, reef and sandy areas. EPIC will conduct the terrestrial biodiversity assessment and train VROMI and Nature Foundation staff in data collection methodologies to safely and successfully carry out field research. Two experts with a combined 40 years experience in Caribbean natural history will assist EPIC in this task. After a literature review of existing publications, they will start field surveys in January to document the variety of plants and animals found in St. Maarten.
Minister of VROMI, Egbert Doran, noted “Accurate data from baseline biodiversity inventories form the cornerstone of informed environmental decisions. They empower us to understand ecosystems, identify vulnerabilities, and implement targeted strategies for conservation. With precise information at hand, we're equipped to make pivotal choices that uphold both ecological integrity and human well-being. With EPIC Foundation conducting the terrestrial biodiversity inventory and the Nature Foundation the marine inventory, project CORENA will establish the baseline upon which informed decisions can be made about the sustainable management of the marine and coastal environment.”
EPIC’s Lead researcher Kevel Lindsay is a terrestrial ecologist, forester, biologist, and regional expert on Caribbean biodiversity, with plant ecology and faunal species’ inventories conducted in Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Grenada. Born and raised on Antigua, Mr. Lindsay has a degree in environmental biology from Columbia University, and an associate degree in forestry from the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Agriculture and Forestry (ECIAF) in Trinidad.
Researcher Mark Yokoyama is an American naturalist, author, photographer and wildlife educator residing on St. Martin. Since 2009 he has been documenting terrestrial biodiversity on St. Martin and elsewhere in the Lesser Antilles. He is co-founder and Treasurer of the non-profit association Les Fruits de Mer which has published over two dozen books in English and in French on the island’s terrestrial and marine biodiversity. Mark’s personal library counts over 30,000 photos, published in many publications, including The New York Times and The Economist.
The CORENA project is funded by the European Union though the regional RESEMBID grant programme, implemented by Expertise France in 12 overseas countries and territories in the Caribbean.
The team looks forward to sharing the results of this initiative, check EPIC’s social media for updates from the field. The public is invited to send an email to email@example.com if you wish to bring a particular species to EPIC’s attention.