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Nicolas Maslach, Direceur de la Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin

Nicolas Maslach, Manager of the Réserve naturelle de Saint-Martin

For the past 15 years, the Réserve Naturelle has worked hard to ensure the success of its missions for environmental protection, promotion, and awareness. It keeps a close eye on various sites on land and at sea, to make sure they remain well managed and natural. This vigilance means that these sites are the ones that our island is most proud of today, and add greatly to the attractiveness of the island as a tourist destination. These constant efforts are the result of a long-term vision and strategy, which has allowed the Réserve to reinforce its scientific research, to strengthen links with its counterparts throughout the Caribbean, and to establish partnerships with close to 80 companies that host more than 400,000 tourists every year. This long-term vision will also allow Saint Martin to be innovative with the implementation of a new multi-function tool unique to the region: The Caribbean Institute of Biodiversity. The Réserve is proud to bring its contribution to the scientific and cultural development of Saint Martin by way of this Institute, which also affirms its tourism and economic policy. We are pleased to begin to present the Institute in this edition of the Journal.

Better Knowledge About Protected Areas And Protected Species

Aperçu de l’Institut caribéen de la biodiversité insulaire
Aperçu de l’Institut caribéen de la biodiversité insulaire | A speak peek of the Caribbean Institute for Insular Biodiversity

The architectural firm of Véronique Descharrières was selected from a list of three candidates following a competition launched last year for the creation of the Caribbean Institute for Insular Biodiversity.

This firm’s credits include the Paris-Vincennes zoological gardens, a project which comprises the conception of six zones representatives of the various ecosystems on the planet. The pre-project, as proposed and accepted for the biodiversity institute, is interesting for several major reasons including a solid understanding of the investment and operation costs, a concrete structure on stilts - a big plus in a territory subject to the impact of hurricanes and earthquakes - as well as excellent thermal isolation. The overall study for the project will continue throughout 2016, until the building permit is submitted. The goal is to define the details for the future Institute, which will house the various departments of the Réserve - governance, administration, logistics, scientific, a branch of the Conservatoire du Littoral, and a university division. Special attention will be paid to the scenography which will be presented to the public. An aquarium is planned, as well as an auditorium and pavilions dedicated to various land and sea species in a playful, yet pedagogical environment. The Réserve Naturelle will continue to get support from the State of France, until the study is completed, through the terms of the Development Contract.

The Nature Foundation in the field
The Nature Foundation in the field

Both the Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin and the Nature Foundation of Sint Maarten are interested in the various species of sharks found close to the island.

As part of the Dutch program «Save our Sharks,» two students doing internships at Nature Foundation, in conjunction with the consulting firm, IMARES, have created an inventory of the species of sharks that frequent the waters around both sides of the island. This mission completed the selection of existing examples with the observation of new species in new zones. On the French side, in collaboration with the Réserve’s scientific office, new species in their juvenile stage were observed, confirming the role of coastal waters as a nursery.

Marking a juvenile shark
Marking a juvenile shark

Océane Beaufort completed a fourth mission in Saint Martin on November 16-21, in continued collaboration with the scientific office of the Réserve Naturelle, as part of the Negaprion mission.

This shark specialist had recently returned from Panama, where she participated in a scientific conference organized by the Gulf and Caribbean Fishing Institute, during which a session was dedicated to the scientific study of sharks and rays. In Saint Martin, a tour was made of sites already identified as nurseries for lemon sharks, to especially observe the presence of juvenile sharks in a zone that had previously been observed, as well as the presence of young leopard rays,

An archeologist at work
An archeologist at work

Did you know that Saint Martin has more than 20 caves and grottos, five of which are on the island of Tintamare ?

These hidden places are not visited too frequently; a reality that makes the archeologists happy. This means they have a better chance to discover eventual human or animal traces left over the years, and to be able to date successive layers. This is why a team of specialized researchers came to make an inspection of the natural caves and cavities in late February 2016. From Montpellier and Guadeloupe, these academics were not disappointed. They made interesting discoveries and even completed an inventory of existing caves. A report is underway, but mum’s the word! The secret must be kept in order to preserve these mysterious places!

Camille Morin participated in «Reef Check»
Camille Morin participated in «Reef Check»

Camille Morin, an intern at the Réserve Naturelle from November 2015 to February 2016, is completing several projects during the year as part of the curriculum from her agronomy engineering school in Bordeaux.

She contributed to treating and confirming data from a scientific study of the state of health of the reefs and herbariums, both in and outside of the Réserve. The document, created in 2008, inventories the presence of marine flora and fauna at specific locations that were studied - coral, sponges, algae, gorgons, sea urchins, fish, mollusks, herbariums - as well as the overall state of their health. This study has been refined over the years, and increased from a total of two to six stations, inside as well as outside the boundaries of the Réserve. The young student also participated in «Reef Check», the annual coral reef survey supported by the Quiksilver Foundation, which provides an international vision on their evolution. There were three new stations as part of this survey - at Caye Verte, on the underwater trail at Pinel, and at Creole Rock — in addition to the first station established in Saint Martin in April 2008 at the Galion surf spot. These sites are of particular interest as they are all managed by the Réserve Naturelle and regularly visited by the public.

Maxence Morel

Maxence Morel, a Master’s degree student at the University of Corte, studies the integrated management of the littoral and ecosystems.

An intern at the Réserve Naturelle from February through July 2016, he is basing his work on the study of cactus and gaïac trees, under the supervision of Caroline Fleury. His mission is to make a chart of protected species, and also to study the health of the Melocactus intortus (Turk’s Head cactus) at the sites of Cactus Place and Babit Point. This particular cactus has been threatened since 2011 by the Cactoblastis caterpillar and its butterfly. This insect, present in Saint Barthélemy where it has done a great amount of damage, was imported in 1957 to Nevis. Morel looked at three quarters of the cactus on Tintamare and he was able to identify the Opuntia rubescens, a species of protected cactus that had not been known to exist on the small island of Tintamare. Also in Tintamare, especially on the cliffs, but also around North Cove, there are more than 100 gaïac trees, which are only found in Saint Martin in non-developed hilly areas.

Le cactus Opuntia rubescens

This turtle had numerous tumors due to a herpes virus.
This turtle had numerous tumors due to a herpes virus.

Alerted by a local resident near the bay of Cul-de-Sac, the agents of the Réserve recuperated the cadaver of a green turtle washed up close to the beach.

The animal had numerous tumors, typical of fibropapillomatosis. This herpes virus, originally discovered in the waters of Tahiti, currently affects turtles the world over. The occurrence of this disease, normally not transmissible to humans, underlines the importance of not touching sea turtles, especially to avoid the transmission of the virus from one turtle to another. The Réserve is in charge of the local network for the beaching of sea turtles and marine mammals, and invites anyone who sights such animals to transmit the information to 06 90 34 77 10 or

Managing The Impact Of Human Activities In Protected Areas

La baie de Cul-de-Sac envahie par les sargasses
The bay of Cul-de-Sac invaded by sargassum

How to deal with sargussum seaweed without causing harm to the environment, and especially the egg-laying milieu of sea turtles?

That was the theme of the training provided to the green brigades on October 21, 2015 by the scientific office of the Réserve Naturelle. The creation of these brigades responds to the problems caused by the sargassum, which led to a new collaboration between the Prefecture, the Collectivité, and the Réserve Naturelle. Two groups of 12 young brigadiers accompanied by their supervisors where brought up to speed on the most ecological strategy to collect the seaweed and dispose of it. They first learned about the biology of sea turtles and their life cycles, as well as how to eventually use machinery without destroying the turtles’ nests, and where it is best to stock the sargassum while draining it, far from the nests. Julien Chalifour explained that there are two types of algae, in which little fish, tiny shrimp, small slugs, and especially small jellyfish and other salt water organisms. It is important not to touch the animal colonies that resemble flowers, as they sting.

Charlotte Bousquet
Charlotte Bousquet

What are there so many green turtles in Tintamare ? Because they are protected, of course, but also because they feed on the plant beds that carpets the ocean floor.

That proves the importance of this ecosystem and its good management, especially the presence of 17 mooring blocks provided by the Réserve for boats to use. Chains from an anchor destroy the plant beds This herbarium is the object of a project for Charlotte Bousquet, a student at the University of La Rochelle in a master’s program for «environmental sciences and littoral ecology ». She is doing an internship at the Réserve Naturelle from February through July 2016, and began by studying and describing this herbarium, before observing how boats sometimes drop their anchors on the herbarium since the moorings are all occupied, which is not a valid reason. The core of her mission consists in determining the different way boats use three zones: the sandy mooring zone; the sandy zone behind the moorings; and the zone of the herbarium where boats sometimes drop their anchors. On the basis of the results, she will formulate recommendations for the optimum management of these three zones, in order to improve their conservation.

A sea turtle in his element

Biohab St.Barth
Biohab St.Barth

In a global context of disappearing coral reefs, projects for artificial underwater habitats are multiplying, in the goal of developing the biomass to encourage the survival of fish and crustaceans.

Invited to Saint Barthélemy in early March for the Environmental Agency for their “Ocean Week”, Julien Chalifour presented the BioHab project, established since 2014 in the waters of the Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin, and whose results have exceeded expectations. Five months after modules of cinder blocks were placed, 33 species had moved into the site, which was empty beforehand, and there were at least 151 individuals in 100 square meters, including 63 royal lobsters, for a density well superior to that on natural reefs! Other participants presented their projects on the theme of coral reef restoration, notably the Biorock process, whose goal is to stimulate the growth of coral by an electric current. These diverse initiatives are complementary projects over the long term to help with the maintenance and restoration of reef ecosystems.

Police Activity

Kite surfing forbidden at Galion!
Kite surfing forbidden at Galion!

Kite surfing is forbidden at Galion by prefectural decree, but certain practitioners seem to be deaf when it comes to the rules.

Two violations were given to two kite surfers who resisted the control of the rangers and refused to provide their identify. They must appear before the correctional court and risk fines up to 1500 euros. In addition, five kite surfers were also fined and have to pay 135 euros each

78 patrouilles en 3 mois

Depuis le 1er janvier 2016, l’équipe des gardes de la Réserve naturelle a procédé à 78 patrouilles et a enregistré 17 contrôles non conformes. Les patrouilles peuvent avoir lieu le weekend, mais pas systématiquement, le calendrier des patrouilles étant décidé en fonction de l’ensemble des activités des gardes.

Le Rocher Créole Creole Rock © Christophe Joe
Le Rocher Créole Creole Rock © Christophe Joe

Feeding fish in the Réserve Naturelle is forbidden.

A sea excursion operator learned the hard way when the rangers surprised him in the act of feeding the fish with his clients, while moored at Creole Rock. He was forbidden from the Réserve Naturelle for two weeks during the Christmas holiday period. Feeding the fish is forbidden for numerous reasons, such as: certain fish can become aggressive and dangerous species can be attracted, this artificial addition of organic material can have a negative impact on the environment, the food can pollute the water, the aliments are not always adapted to fish in the sea and can have negative consequences on their health…

A company based in Saint Barth and a partner of the Réserve Naturelle was excluded from the Reserve for two weeks

for having used a Sea-Doo - a small sea scooter whose usage is forbidden in the Réserve - at Tintamare. This company had been warned on several occasions, but apparently did not heed the warning.

Contrôle d’un pêcheur en mer | Control of a fisherman at sea
Contrôle d’un pêcheur en mer | Control of a fisherman at sea

From January 16-19, the team of wardens of the Réserve Naturelle participated in an interservices mission at sea,

alongside the nautical brigade of the gendarmerie, the Direction de la Mer, and the Office national de la chasse et de la faune sauvage (ONCFS). The rangers of the Réserve and a team from ONCFS did several fishing controls, aboard the boat belonging to the Réserve. These controls were held inside and outside of the waters of the Réserve and resulted in the confiscation of fish too small to have been taken and conch, as per regulations. Conch was also seized at the fish market

10 kilos of sea snails put back in the sea

Rangers of the Reserve caught five fishermen in the act,

and put 10 kilos of sea snails found in a bucket back in the sea close to Wilderness Beach. They were given a ticket for illegal fishing in the Reserve Naturelle under the rural law of maritime procedures, as well as for the offense.

Restoration Of Degraded Areas And Populations

Ruines de l’ancien hôtel au Galion | Ruins of the old hotel at Galion
Ruines de l’ancien hôtel au Galion | Ruins of the old hotel at Galion

The ruins of the old hotel near the beach at Galion will soon be nothing but a disgraceful memory.

The demolition process is underway with two companies doing the work. The first is in charge of removing asbestos from the site, and will come from Martinique. This work, which should take about two months, will begin in April, and the asbestos debris will be sent to France by boat for recycling. The second company will continue the actual demolition by the end of the summer in order to clear the entire site by the end of 2016. The goal of the Conservatoire du Littoral in this project is to restore the damaged areas on this magnificent site and maintain its natural assets, while also planning on improvements to welcome the public. During the work, the Conservatoire will meet with the Collectivité and various users of the site, in order to establish partnerships. A first authorization for temporary occupancy was signed by the Collectivité for the installation of a first-aid station near the floating swimming pool.

Babit Point, un beau site sauvage Babit Point, a beautiful undeveloped site
Babit Point, un beau site sauvage Babit Point, a beautiful undeveloped site

Grâce à l’Association syndicale libre d’Oyster Pond (ASLOP) et au Conservatoire du littoral, le site remarquable de Babit Point est retourné à son état naturel...

et le restera. La maison en ruines a été détruite et une clôture mise en place tout autour de la parcelle afin d’empêcher l’accès des véhicules. Il reste à procéder à la restauration écologique des parties dégradées ainsi qu’à l’aménagement d’une petite zone d’accueil au départ du site, ce que prévoit de faire le Conservatoire, qui va prochainement lancer une consultation auprès des riverains. Mais le public est d’ores et déjà invité à découvrir Babit Point, un site venté et aride, où les Melocactus intortus - les fameux «tèt à l’anglé» - abondent et dont la vocation est de rester sauvage.

Environmental Communication And Education

L’observatoire aux oiseaux de l’étang de Chevrise  The bird observatory at the Chevrise salt pond
L’observatoire aux oiseaux de l’étang de Chevrise The bird observatory at the Chevrise salt pond

As we announced in our last issue, the new bird observatory at the Chevrise salt pond is open to the public,

and located near the parking area at the Mont Vernon residence. One can now observe the avifauna that frequents the Chevrise salt pond in the best possible conditions. This site holds the bird watching award in terms of density, as one can see as many as 1,000 birds in just a quarter of an hour! Thanks to its four observatories - at the Barrière pond in Cul-de- Sac, the Grand-Case cemetery pond, the Lucas marsh in Oyster Pond, and now the Chevrise salt pond - Saint Martin has developed as a serious tourist attraction for bird watching, an activity in full expansion, especially in the United States. The shores still need to be improved and signage will be added to inform our bird watching friends about the various species present at the site.

Des collégiens de Marigot dans la mangrove | Middle school students from Marigot in the mangrove
Des collégiens de Marigot dans la mangrove | Middle school students from Marigot in the mangrove

After a successful initial contact (read following article), the Réserve Naturelle then met with sixth graders at the Mont des Accords middle school, on February 23.

Julien Chalifour, and his associate Caroline Fleury, led an event as part of an international wetlands day, about these zones that are not very well known. This second scientific foray for students was the perfect occasion to delve into the mangrove, a species of flora that play a purification role, serve as a fish nursery, and provide a zone for rest and feeding of birds. The mangroves, located along the shorelines, are constantly threatened by dumping and illegal cutting down, which reduce their surface. The Réserve Naturelle and the Conservatoire du Littoral have also put various actions into place for the protection and restoration of the salt ponds and mangroves: regulations to respect, reforestation via the planting of young trees, bird observation, the quality of the water, the surface of the mangroves… This presentation also provided an opportunity to discuss the issue of the sargassum seaweed, whose development is intimately linked to the lack of purification of water coming from the islands; waters rich in organic materials that favor the growth of algae.

Les récifs protègent de la houle la plage et la mangrove | The reefs protect the beaches and mangroves from large swells
Les récifs protègent de la houle la plage et la mangrove | The reefs protect the beaches and mangroves from large swells

impacts of climate change To make young people aware of the impacts of climate change on the island’s ecosystems:

that is the theme that Julien Chalifour, director of the scientific department at the Réserve Naturelle, developed for the students in the bilingual classes - French/English - at the Mont des Accords middle school, on December 9, 2015. This intervention took place in response to an invitation from the school, in conjunction with an exhibit about the environment organized by the students. When Chalifour spoke, an attentive audience learned about the responsibility of every individual to reduce his footprint in nature, or risk degrading the quality of life on one hand, and limiting the efficiency of our ecosystems’ services, or services provided by nature that we aren’t always aware of. Chalifour also told the students about the importance of the role played by the reefs, which protect the beaches and mangroves from large swells, and in turn the mangrove contributes to the purification of water that goes out to sea, and also serves as a nursery for young fish, which provide a future economic resources for fishermen.

Better Means For Better Missions

Julie Walker
Julie Walker

Welcome Julie Walker to Saint Martin !

In early January, the new representative for the Conservatoire du Littoral in Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy enthusiastically took on the torch passed to her by Olivier Raynaud, who became the director of Territorial Environmental Agency in Saint Barth. A jurist specializing in environmental law, Walker comes from the Conservatory for Natural Spaces in Aquitaine, where she was responsible for the department of Gironde, where her principal missions consisted of advancing knowledge, protection, management, and promotion of natural spaces.

She practiced land management, either through acquisition or by joint agreement, as well as site management, which represent important assets for the Conservatoire du Littoral. The entire staff at the Réserve Naturelle is pleased to welcome her and express their support.



Reinforcement On A Regional

Caroline Fleury, who does a monthly inventory and scientific study of shore birds around six ponds in Saint Martin for the scientific office of the Réserve,

was able to confirm that the French Antilles shelter a large number of migratory and resident species. She made her report during the national meeting for contributors to the observatory of coastal waders, or those birds that live in the humid zones along the shore. The meeting took place on November 17-18, 2015 in the heart of the Camargue, at the Domaine de la Tour du Valat, a research centre for the conservation of humid zones in the Mediterranean. For Fleury, this meeting was the occasion to meet her national counterparts from the association of Réserves Naturelles de France, and also improve her competence in terms of the study of birds. Of course, the season for the observation of migratory birds is not the same in Saint Martin as in the Camargue, and a number of the birds observed in the warmer months in Europe move to the tropics when it starts to get cold.

A videoconference between Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Saint Martin united members of the Agoa whale watching commission on February 18, 2016.

The goal was to propose a good practices guide to better manage this commercial activity, which is currently regulated by a charter on a volunteer basis. The objective is to change this charter into a prefectural decree, but keeping the spirit of the original text and in cooperation with the operators, as the idea is not to prohibit this eco-tourism activity, but to reinforce the protection of marine mammals.

Le public a répondu en nombre à l’invitation d’Agoa © Jean Vallette
A large number of people responded to Agoa’s invitation © Jean Vallette

The goal of the “Kozé Agoa” organized on November 5, 2015 at the Sandy Ground Cultural Centre Sandy Ground was to inform the population about the marine mammal sanctuary in the French Caribbean.

About 200 people attended the lecture presented by Sophie Bedel, who notes that at least 25 of the 31 marine mammal species in the Caribbean visit the sanctuary, including certain little known species such as Gervais’ beaked whale. Daniel Langlois, director of the Saguenay-St Lawrence Marine Park in Canada, and member of the management council, presented a short film about humpback whales that feed in Canadian waters during the summer, in order to gather strength before swimming back to spend the winter in the waters of the Caribbean, where they reproduce and have their young. Jean-Pierre Concaud, a whale-watching operator in Guadeloupe, spoke about this activity that has been expanding, with at least 20 companies involved in the observation of marine mammals in Martinique, and another 10 in Guadeloupe, with an obligation to respect the strict regulations as decreed by the prefecture. The director of the tourism office, Kate Richardson, evoked the necessity to follow a policy of sustainable tourism, especially in the development of eco-tourism, so why not whale-watching? The Saint Martin branch of the association, My School, My Whale, presented a short pedagogical film made by an elementary school class in Grand-Case.

Paul Hoetjes a reçu en cadeau une carte marine montrant les deux sanctuaires, Agoa et Yarari © Jean Vallette
Paul Hoetjes received the gift of a map showing the two sanctuaries, Agoa and Yarari © Jean Vallette

Paul Hoetjes, coordinator of the nature policy for the Dutch minister of economic affairs, presented the Yarari sanctuary during the management council meeting on November 6, 2015.

Yarari, same as Agoa, is an Amerindian term that can be translated as “haven of peace,” or “area of wellbeing.” And like Agoa, the goal is to protect marine mammals, but also sharks and rays. Concretely, a detailed set of regulations defines the protection of these marine animals in a wide series of domains, from maritime transport and motorboat competitions to the formal interdiction to catch sharks. Yarari covers the national waters of Saba and Bonaire, two islands that are part of the realm of The Netherlands, and will soon include Saint Eustache as well. Sint Maarten, Curacao, and Aruba have expressed their interest in the project but have to hold a vote by their politicians. The idea is to multiply the protected marine zones throughout the Caribbean, where marine mammals are still hunted on occasion on such islands as Saint Vincent, Bequia, and The Grenadines.

Conseil de Gestion
De gauche à droite / From left to right : Romain Renoux, de la Réserve naturelle, représentant du sanctuaire Agoa à Saint-Martin; Benoît Chauvin, élu de Saint-Barthélemy et vice-président d’Agoa ; Yvon Combes, président d’Agoa ; Ramona Connor, vice-présid

The Agency of Protected Marine Zones manages Agoa, which in turn is run by a management council.

After a first meeting held in Martinique on May 21, 2015, this council held its second meeting à Saint Martin, on November 6, 2015. The 53 members of Agoa’s management council followed a very full agenda, of which one of the key points was the results of a major study on commercial activities in the waters of Agoa—activities that represent a potential threat to marine mammals. They examined measures to take in reinforcing the protection of these large animals, and decided, for example, that whale-watching operators will have future training to make sure they follow the best behavior at sea, and better understand the different species and their way of life. More long-term, large boats, such as cruise ships and cargo ships, which represent potential collision danger for large marine mammals, will be taught how to take their protection into account. The council was pleased to welcome the creation of the Yarari sanctuary and officially proposed that the two projected zones be twinned.

Agoa autour de Saint-Martin et Saint-Barthélemy
Agoa autour de Saint-Martin et Saint-Barthélemy

Happy to see the protection of marine mammals increase in the Caribbean,

Romain Renoux, representative of the Agoa sanctuary in Saint Martin, and Amandine Eynaudi, director for Agoa for the Agency Of Protected Marine Zones, are working on a protocol for exchanges between Agoa, Yarari, and the Dominican sanctuary La Samana. Five axes of cooperation have been unveiled:

  • Scientific cooperation through the exchange of technical information and scientific protocol, to eventually standardize practices in the three sanctuaries, with identical methods of data acquisition;
  •  Standardization of management for these protected marine zones, with the creation of a management plan, the definition of indicators, and the adoption of a common whale watching guide; 
  • Transparence in the governance between sanctuaries, notably through the invitation of all to important meetings;
  • Shared tools for environmental awareness: flyers, posters, videos...
  • And finally the promotion of this Caribbean initiative on a global scale to reinforce the link between the sanctuaries and for the protection of marine mammals.


On repère les baleines à bosses à leur souffle puissant  © Christophe Joe
On repère les baleines à bosses à leur souffle puissant | Humpback whales can be identified by their powerful blast © Christophe Joe

Since large cetaceans do not know they are in danger of being hit by a sailboat during a regatta,

The Agoa protection sanctuary worked with the organizers of the Heineken Regatta and to teach participating sailors how to avoid collisions. This information was shared on several levels, starting with a briefing with the organizers on the subject of such risks, both for the marine mammals and the men, as well as the proper behavior in the case of a meeting with one of these large animals. The race committee received this information with great interest and as a result a flyer recapping the recommendations was included in the race book given to every participant. At the same time, the same information was reprinted in the prefectural regulations for maritime traffic in French waters during the regatta, which took place the first weekend in March as it does every year. The regatta organization also invited Romain Renoux aboard a committee boat in case there was an eventual encounter with a whale. «2016 was the year for an excellent partnership with the Heineken Regatta, the Réserve Naturelle, and Agoa», concludes Romain, who hopes to put the same kind of program in place with the organizers of the Saint Barth Bucket and Les Voiles de Saint-Barth.

@ Cayman Islands

The European project, BEST, is moving forward rapidly. In the field, Romain Renoux, director of the regional cooperation and education office for the Réserve Naturelle, and Amandine Vaslet, responsible for the SPAWRAC mission that is coordinating the project with the Réserve, have resumed the consultation of local contacts on various islands.

The goal of these meetings was to identify the issues facing local biodiversity, in order to best protect it, based on existing scientific studies done in the 15 European territories of the Caribbean: French (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barth, Saint Martin), Dutch (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten), and British (Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks & Caicos).

  • In the Turks & Caicos, like for the other 14 European islands in the Caribbean, the goal was to identify the key zones for biodiversity and validate the profiles of their eco-systems with local authorities, in the presence of the Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs, the Turks & Caicos National Trust, the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund, The British University of Greenwich, the British Marine Conservation Society, and an environmental consultant.
  • In Montserrat, where volcanic eruptions seriously modified the eco-systems on the southern two-thirds of the island, the BEST project was warmly welcomed on November 24-27, 2015 by the minister of the environment, the minister of agriculture, the Montserrat National Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Coral Cay Conservation, Blue Halo Initiative of the Waitt Institute, the GIS center, the fishermen’s association, two diving clubs, a tourism operator, and a hydroponic agriculture company.
  • In the Cayman Islands on February 25, 2016, the Environmental Department - eleven participants representing the governments, the environmental associations, and the Cayman National Trust - validated with Amandine Vaslet the conservation zones for biodiversity, the lists of protected species, and the priorities for environmental protection..



The Grand Cayman Blue Iguana (Cyclura lewisi), an endemic endangered species on the UICN red list

3ème colloque national des aires marines protégées
3ème colloque national des aires marines protégées

Represented in Brest Nicolas Maslach, Romain Renoux, and Julien Chalifour represented the Réserve naturelle de Saint-Martin at the 3rd national symposium for marine protected areas (MPA),

which took place in Brest on October 6-8, 2015. Under the aegis of the Minister of Ecology, this symposium is organized once every three years by the agency for protected marine zones and the world union for nature conservation. Over 500 professionals concerned by the protection and uses of the marine milieu participated in this event: managers, socio-professionals, scientists, politicians, representatives of government services, associations from all across France and its ultramarine territories. In addition to technical exchanges, this symposium allowed for an updated report, at the halfway point, on the national strategy for the creation and management of protected marine zones (2010-2020) and to reinforce the efficiency of the management of the MPA network in order to allow France to keep its national and international promises in terms of the quality and quantity of the marine protected areas. Organized by more then 50 partner organizations, the 24 ateliers discussed the operational management of the marine protected areas in terms of financing, practices, and et de governance.

On October 5, 2015, the day before the start of the national symposium on marine protected areas, Romain Renoux participated in the Forum for managers of marine protected areas, with technical exchanges among 60 managers as part of a network created in 2001, representing 100 marine areas. Renoux serves as its president. Econavigation was a topic on the agenda, as well as other issues such as the French agency’s project for biodiversity, or the positioning of the network in response to the management of a crisis situation, such as the shark crisis on Reunion Island


L’invitation à la présentation publique | The invitation to the public presentation
L’invitation à la présentation publique | The invitation to the public presentation

The project managers for the ecosystem profiles of the seven regional hubs for the European BEST project met at the European Commission in Brussels.

The project leaders for the Caribbean, the Amazon, and Macaronesia (Azores, Madeira, Canaries, Cape Verde), the polar and sub-polar zones of the Southern Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean thus had the opportunity to meet and work on the methodologies employed to define the profiles of their respective eco-systems and the key zones for the biodiversiry of their region, in collaboration with CEPF (Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund). The day of October 19 was dedicated to a public presentation of the results in each region. At this time, Amandine Vaslet presented the results of the exchanges she led with Romain Renoux involving the environmental leaders on the 15 European islands of the Caribbean

On November 7-15, 2015, the island of Hispaniola was the meeting place for the protection of biodiversity «hotspots,»

thanks to the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and its guests, including Romain Renoux on behalf of the European BEST. The first meetings took place on November 7-11 on the eastern side of the island in Haiti, then on November 11-15 in the Dominican Republic. The mission of the CEPF is very close to that of the BEST project, which in a certain way completes it, as the CEPF is interested in the poorest territories in the world and supporting them in the preservation of their eco-systems. Like BEST, with its financing in place, the CEPF creates an eco-system profile in order to identify the priorities in terms of conservation of the biodiversity. The idea, for Romain Renoux, was to learn from the experience of the CEPF in the Caribbean region, particularly by participating in the atelier on the evaluation of their investment in the Caribbean since 2010. Participants included the beneficiaries of funding, financiers, and governmental representatives..

Under the banner of the BEST project, the coordination of which he manages for the European islands of the Caribbean with Amandine Vaslet, Romain Renoux

was invited to a DCNA (Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance) board meeting, on October 27 and 28,2015, in Curaçao. This was also the ideal occasion to meet the environmental directors of the six Dutch territories of the Caribbean all at the same time, and to discuss the various profiles of the eco-systems created for each area. The presence of the governor of Sint Maarten, Eugene Holiday, allowed for the presentation of the challenges facing the biodiversity on the two sides of the island

Les territoires européens de la Caraïbe | European territories in the Caribbean
Les territoires européens de la Caraïbe | European territories in the Caribbean

Fourteen projects in favor of environmental protection were presented by the PTOMs of the Caribbean as part of the BEST 2.0 program, which provides a maximum level of 400,000 € of funding for each project selected.

Five experts - Cyril Barnerias (DEAL Martinique), Paul Hoetjes (Dutch Overseas, based in Bonaire), Eric Newton (Dutch Overseas, based in Curacao), Tara Pelembe (British Overseas), Yves Renard (Caribbean expert, based in Sainte Lucie) - were asked to examine each project, based on the ecosystem profiles defined by Amandine Vaslet. Since the opening of the call for projects, the team from the Caribbean hub of BEST 2.0, composed of Julie Belmont, head of the mission BEST 2.0 for SPAWRAC, and Romain Renoux, responded to all of the preliminary questions from candidates and helped them complete their projects, before organizing a regional steering committee, with the five experts. They met from December 15-17, 2015, to examine each dossier on a technical and scientific basis. The proposed projects were rated according to precise criteria of evaluation, established by the BEST 2.0 Consortium and validated by the European Commission. They were able to classify the projects, and the results were sent to the BEST 2.0 secretariat then to the European Commission, which eventually selected four projects for a total budget of 1.5 million €. As explained by Romain Renoux during a presentation in Brussels on February 16, these four projects share a dimension close to the realities of their island and a desire to reinforce local capacities. BEST 2.0 will soon launch a new call for projects, open to all of the PTOMs, for smaller subventions, with a maximum of 100,000 €. Additional information is on the website for this program: portals.iucn.

And the four winning projects are....

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), in partnership with the authorities of Anguilla, The British Virgin Islands, The Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks & Caicos. This project calls for the reinforcement of the fight against and control of invasive species: fauna (rats, feral cats, goats) and also flora. These invasive species are one of the causes of the diminution of biodiversity, which is particularly true on islands;

  • The government of Aruba,for the creation of the first marine park on the island, in partnership with a Dutch scientific organization;
  • Imares (Institute for Marine Resources & Ecosystem Studies), the Dutch equivalent of our Ifremer, proposed a project for coral restoration with coral nurseries in Saba, Saint Eustache, Sint Maarten, and the Turks & Caicos, in collaboration with the marine parks on these islands.
  • The Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources of Anguillahave a project for the preservation of sea turtles, in partnership with local NGOs, a British university, and the WIDECAST network.


The steering committee for the BEST 3 project

Met on February 10 in Brussels, at which time Romain Renoux, BEST co-coordinator for the entire Caribbean with Amandine Vaslet, presented news in terms of identification of key zones for biodiversity in the 15 European territories in the region. Twenty ateliers regrouping 130 organizations were held that day, with more than 200 experts consulted about the environment and biodiversity. Sixty key zones have been identified and a final synthesis will be published in June 2016 with profiles of the primary ecosystems of the Caribbean.

Maria Zildar Richards & Romain Renoux © Alex Julien
Maria Zildar Richards & Romain Renoux © Alex Julien

The Mazda group has made a donation of $3,200 to the Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin

In support of its program to protect sea turtles. Maria Zildar Richards, director of the Mazda group for Florida, presented the check to Romain Renoux, on Thursday, February 25, 2016 in Palm Beach... very close to a site where these turtles lay their eggs.

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