Journal-37

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Journal-37

To promote the conservation of the coral reefs and related species

Les post-larves - The post-larvae
Les post-larves - The post-larvae

Positive results in the LIFE program to protect two grouper species

As we mentioned in our most recent issue of this Journal, in October 2019 the staff of the Réserve began to collect larvae as part of the European LIFE BIODIV’OM program for the preservation of the Nassau grouper and the giant grouper, two globally endangered species. After this preparatory part of the project, the Réserve will now put its knowledge to work by collecting the post-larvae fish—sadly more than 90% die before settling by our shores—with the goal of identifying the grouper, isolating them, allowing them to mature in an aquarium, before releasing them in their natural milieu once they have reached a size that allows them a better chance of survival. Two exploratory collections took place in January and February 2020, over the course of seven consecutive nights, when the moon was not very bright to maximize the efficiency of the light on the sampling devices. The first results were very encouraging, especially in terms of the number of individuals as well as the diversity of the species observed. The difficulty was identifying the grouper among all the newly spawned fish, so certain examples were placed in an aquarium until their identification can be certain, then have been be returned to the sea. This exploratory phase, which comprises the identification of the larvae and the calendar for the arrival of the alevins— all species do not reproduce at the same time—should have been completed by May, but was delayed by the arrival of Covid-19 on a worldwide basis.

Suivi scientifique annuel des récifs et des herbiers Annual scientific study of reefs and sea grass beds
Suivi scientifique annuel des récifs et des herbiers Annual scientific study of reefs and sea grass beds

Cooperation between reserves

Since 2007, the Réserve Naturelle has conducted its annual scientific study of the reefs and underwater plant beds. In 2019, this took place on September 9-12, with the support of a representative from the Réserve Guadeloupéenne de Petite-Terre. He came to help the staff in Saint Martin document the evolution of the overall health of the coral communities and sea grass beds, at stations both in and outside of the perimeters of the Réserve. This year, this ongoing study was complemented by a study of groupers, as part of the LIFE program, on four of the eight sites that were observed. These sites will be the focus of a bi-annual study, until the conclusion of the LIFE program in 2023. As usual, this cooperation also saw the team from Saint Martin lend a hand to Saint Barth and Petite-Terre under the same conditions. Aude Berger went to Petite-Terre on November 15-17 and Vincent Oliva to Saint Barth on November 20-22.

To promote the conservation of seagrass beds and related marine plant species

Corail cerveau - Brain coral
Corail cerveau - Brain coral

This action, defined as part of the management plan, will take place thanks to financing from the French Office For Biodiversity (OFB). The consulting firm, AquaSearch, will participate in 2020 as part of a new project to update the cartography displaying the underwater habitats within the Réserve Naturelle, and especially the essential habitats for sea turtles, namely the underwater sea grass beds for green turtles and the reefs for hawksbill turtles. The current maps were part of the management plan for 2010–2015, but date from 2007.

Mouillage à Tintamare - Moorings at Tintamare
Mouillage à Tintamare - Moorings at Tintamare

The Réserve: expert in environmental moorings

responsible for supervising improvements for the Port Authority of Saint Martin, helped install banks of permanent moorings intended for recreational boats. The goal is to reduce the usage of anchors by providing the permanent moorings, which are environmentally friendly, at sites managed by the Port Authority, such as the bay in Marigot. The Réserve Naturelle, which has installed moorings at three sites—Tintamare, Rocher Créole, and Pinel—, benefits from many years of experience in this area and can bring its expertise, with an eye toward safety, sustainable management, and the protection of the marine biodiversity. In fact, these new mooring zones will not only contribute to the comfort of professional and recreational boats, but also encourage revitalization of the biodiversity through the placement of artificial habitats: thanks to Biohab and Biohab2, the artificial habitats created by the Réserve will help with the rejuvenation and diversification of the marine fauna and flora in the controlled mooring zones already impacted by the presence of hundreds of boats in high season. Similar projects have recently met with great success in the Mediterranean, thanks to NAPPEX, which has set up coastal areas as veritable nurseries.

To promote the conservation of the sea turtle population

Tortue tuée par un engin nautique
Tortue tuée par un engin nautique

Eight sea turtles killed in 2019

Eight sea turtles died in 2019 due to collisions with a boat or a jet ski. And four others were found stranded on the shore since the beginning of 2020. These numbers concern only those turtles found on the shore and brought to the attention of the Réserve Naturelle. How many others may have been victims of such collisions at sea that went unnoticed? It is important to note that it takes 25 years for a sea turtle to reproduce and that only one in a thousand actually reaches that age. Sadly, these accidents impact mature sea turtles as well as juveniles that have not yet had the chance to reproduce. And a large number of sea turtles found on our shores show traces of fibropapillomatosis, a disease found more and more frequently in the island’s sea turtle population.

Une tortue verte sur l’herbier de Tintamare A green sea turtle feeding on sea grass at Tintamare
Une tortue verte sur l’herbier de Tintamare A green sea turtle feeding on sea grass at Tintamare

Green sea turtles VS humans

Do green sea turtles modify their nutritional habits in sea grass beds in the presence of humans? Or not? The first phase of a two-part study took place November 10-22, in low tourist season, and was continued in high season, between Christmas and New Year. The goal is to characterize the interactions between green sea turtles and humans, specifically at the sea grass beds at Anse Marcel and Baie Blanche in Tintamare. Benjamin de Montgolfier, director of the maritime consulting firm, AquaSearch, led the project with funding made possible by the French Office For Biodiversity (OFB). The results of this study will contribute to the establishment of best practices for turtle watching, working hand-in-hand with professional and amateur boaters.

Rencontre sur le site du chantier - Meeting at the site
Rencontre sur le site du chantier - Meeting at the site

Limit the impact of work on the beaches

An architectural firm doing work to protect a villa from storm surge requested that the Réserve Naturelle to provide advice on the site along the coast at Baie Rouge, a site favored by sea turtles during egg-laying season. After getting the obligatory administrative authorization, the architect responsible for the project—a wall comprised of steel pilings deeply driven into the sand—decided to seek professional advice to limit try and best minimize the impact on one of the most sensitive sites, and just at the beginning of the 2020 egg-laying season. On January 21, Julien Chalifour and Aude Bergé met with the architects and the construction company to raise their awareness about the protection and reproduction habits of sea turtles. Pointing out that the solution with the least impact would be not to put up a wall, but to rely on natural barriers, the participants discussed various technical solutions in order to define a protocol intended to limit the impact to the site and to its future use for egg-laying. The work should have been completed before the start of egg-laying season in May, but was unfortunately delayed by the consequences of Covid-19.

The important points as outlined in the protocol include:

  • Heavy machinery should limit their maneuvers on the site as much as possible;
  • Storage of dirt and construction materials will be limited in the egg-laying zone;
  • An awareness campaign for workers, including signage with rules to be respected;
  • A daily control procedure to verify the absence of sea turtles or traces of egg laying around the work site;
  • In the case of sighting a turtle or egg-laying traces, the Réserve Naturelle will be informed immediately;
  • Lighting intended to illuminate the beach will be avoided;
  • The Réserve encourages the planting of vegetation on the beach in front of the project. In addition to limiting erosion of the sand and being more aesthetic, this zone of vegetation will help encourage hawksbill turtles, as they like to lay their eggs in a spot with plants at the high edge of the beach.
Tortue imbriquée - Hawksbill turtle © Julien Chalifour
Tortue imbriquée - Hawksbill turtle © Julien Chalifour

Updating the Atlas of sea turtle egg-laying sites

Fifteen years ago, in 2005, the Réserve Naturelle created an Atlas of sites in Saint Martin where sea turtles lay their eggs. Regularly updated, this document required a major overhaul post hurricane Irma. The job was entrusted to Manon Gomez y Gimenez, a master’s degree candidate in ecology at the University of Montpellier, and an intern at the Réserve from March through August 2020. She will evaluate the overall state of each beach where turtles traditionally lay their eggs: the surface of the sand; a description of the natural vegetation; and also various factors of deterioration, from construction to visual sources of disturbance and too much noise. She will pay special attention to light pollution, for which regulations have evolved as recently as January 2020 in an attempt to protect the flora and fauna from intrusive lighting that disturbs natural habitats. These measures apply to all construction, public and private, except where nocturnal lighting is necessary, such as ports and marinas. The negative and positive points of each site will be included in the Atlas, with individual notations: tamping of the sand, local or imported vegetation, narrowness or wideness of the beach. Finally, it will be possible to evaluate with exactitude the conditions awaiting the turtles on the beaches, and their evolution over time. The idea is to define the priorities that must be established for the protection of sea turtles.

Protection du nid par ruban de sécurité Protection of a nest with security tape
Protection du nid par ruban de sécurité Protection of a nest with security tape

Turtles Alone On The Beaches

The beaches were closed while the island was in confinement, which means the volunteer team created by the Réserve Naturelle was not able to monitor the egg-laying activities of sea turtles between March 17th and May 11st. However, witnesses have reported five traces typical of leatherback turtles on the beach in Orient Bay, which has been the most popular egg-laying spot as of March 1st. The nests have been protected with the help of security tape, and the good news about being confined means that tranquility is guaranteed for the nest and the hatching, which in theory maximizes the chances of success. The Réserve noted three egg-laying instances at 11-day intervals, and it is most likely the same leatherback turtle, as they have a tendency to lay their eggs several times in the same place about every eleven days.

The Réserve Naturelle has put out a call for eco-volunteers to participate in the scientific study of sea turtles. These volunteers can help out once a week, or even just once per month, according to their availability, and the Réserve will provide training. The contact person is Aude Bergé, who runs the project, “Take Action For The Sea Turtles Of Saint Martin.” She can be reached at reservenat.aude@yahoo.com.
Une tortue luth - A leatherback turtle

To maintain or improve local conditions for marine mammal populations

Séance d’entraînement d’immersion d’une balise
Séance d’entraînement d’immersion d’une balise

Listening to marine mammals

The managers of the protected marine areas in the Caribbean met in the Dominican Republic on October 30-November 4 2019, at the invitation of Cari’Mam (see inset). A majority of the meeting was a discussion of the project to install 20 under- water acoustic beacons throughout the Antilles archipelago from Trinidad to Bermuda. These submerged beacons will record the songs of marine mammals within an area of 10 nautical miles (18.5 km) during one minute, followed by a pause of four minutes in order to extend battery life. The beacon specific to Saint Martin was put into place during the first week of January, 2020, outside of the Réserve Naturelle, off the coast of Tintamare. The beacons for Anguilla and Saint Barth will be placed in accordance with that of Saint Martin, in order to cover the largest surface possible. The beacons will record the songs of the marine mammals on SD cards that will be collected every two months by the staff of the Réserve, when they both change the batteries and put in a new card. The cards will be read at a dedicated laboratory at the University of Toulon, where the sounds will be identified. The results will be communicated as a report. Three other ateliers at the meeting focused on best practices for whale watching, as well as environmental education to protect marine mammals, and the creation of a booklet to help the public identify marine mammals at sea. For this project, the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB), by way of the Agoa Sanctuary, provided a donation of 11,940€ to the Réserve Naturelle for the purchase of two hydrophones and pedagogical sculptures of marine mammals.

Financed by the European Union as part of the Interreg Caraïbes program, the Cari’Mam cooperation project hopes to create a network of managers of protected marine areas in the Caribbean for the protection of marine mammals. Ideas on the table include the development of shared tools for management and evaluation, as well as the development of a sustainable guide for whale watching that fully respects the mammals.

To maintain or improve local conditions for nesting bird populations

Formation baguage sur le terrain… Training program on the field...
Formation baguage sur le terrain… Training program on the field...

Study the birds to better understand them

To better understand the avifauna of the French West Indies: that is one of the goals of the French Office For Biodiversity (OFB), which encompasses the French Agency for Biodiversity (AFB) and National Office For Hunting And Wildlife, as of January 1, 2020. One of the ways to improve our knowledge about these birds is by banding them, and the OFB organized a training program on March 9-13 2020 in Guadeloupe. Focused primarily on the banding of shore birds, this training was important for Saint Martin, an island where the salt ponds have numerous and diverse avifauna. Led by two specialized ornithologists from the French National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) — which manages the issuing and fabrication of the bands, and maintains the only national registry for the identification of these birds —the goal of this training was to give the participants the theoretical and practical knowledge necessary to contribute locally to the regional study of shore birds, and to better understand the birds in the French West Indies. At the same time, the Réserve Naturelle agreed to installation of a radio antenna, which will record the passage of birds—primarily migratory species—thanks to a beacon that covers a diameter of 18 kilometers, as past of the international scientific project, Motus (see motus.org). Funded by BirdsCaribbean, this program, which is popular in the USA, Canada, and Europe, is limited in our region for the time being to the islands of Puerto Rico and Barbados, as well as French Guyana. The installation of two antennas is planned, one on Petite-Terre in Guadeloupe, and the other in Saint Martin. This radio system, which is much less costly than a GPS, is well adapted for birds and features a small harness with a miniature transmitter placed on the birds, which can be removed after several weeks of use, once their movements have been tracked. Locally, the same technology could be used to monitor various animal species.

To maintain or improve the ecological health of the salt ponds

La pépinière de palétuviers - The mangrove nursery
La pépinière de palétuviers - The mangrove nursery

Creation of a mangrove nursery

The Réserve Naturelle has obtained authorization from the Collectivity to create a mangrove nursery, the goal being to replant mangrove seedlings in the ponds where the vegetation was decimated by hurricane Irma. Funding from the Rotary Club makes this possible. The project team collects seeds, pods, and seedlings in the field and works day after day to grow them in structures they build themselves. The seedlings are places in biodegradable pots made of sugar cane fiber, then placed in the silt where they can further develop.

Surveillance of the island and police

During the period of confinement, the Réserve Naturelle has maintained its surveillance activities on land and at sea, in order to enforce the regulations. Several individuals who tried to take advantage of the confinement situation to go fishing in the waters of the Réserve or engage in a commercial activity were obliged to abandon their plans after being reprimanded by the Réserve, which works in close collaboration with the nautical brigade of the national gendarmerie.

Environmental Police Activities

In 2019, the technical office and nature police of the Réserve Naturelle carried out 423 patrols from January through December 2019: 306 patrols on land and 141 at sea. Of these patrols, 398 were in accordance with the regulations, and 15 were not—10 on land and 15 at sea. From January 1 through May 2020, the same group carried out 108 patrols, 50 at sea and 58 on land. Of these patrols, 93 were in order, 18 were not—7 on land and 8 at sea. They resulted in four tickets: for leaving trash at Galion; an unauthorized charter activity; two illegal fishing operations during confinement, as well as several reminders of the law for the use of a dune buggy, practicing kite surfing, using a fishing rod, and allowing dogs off leashes.

Avant... Before..
Avant... Before..

865 kilos of tile dumped at Galion

On February 19, 2020, the Réserve Naturelle had to remove 865 kilos of broken tile that had been dumped illegally at Galion by a professional builder, and carted to the ecosite at Grandes Cayes. Luckily, an eyewitness was able to note the license plate of the vehicle used by the offender. The Réserve Naturelle lodged a complaint that was sent to the public prosecutor.

36 lambis sortis de leur coquille 36 conch out of their shells
36 lambis sortis de leur coquille 36 conch out of their shells

Poaching of protected species

On April 21, 2020 at around 2pm at Galion, a guard of the Réserve Naturelle surprises two individuals coming out of the water with masks snorkels, and fins, and heading toward a vehicle. The guard reminded them that swimming is prohibited during confinement and fishing is also forbidden in the waters of the Réserve. He then backed off, but with the intention of coming back to the site. A few minutes later, he saw the two men running toward him, each with a large bag in his hand, and split off into two different directions. The guard called the gendarmerie, where no one was available to help, but a territorial police car arrived just in time to give him a hand. He caught one of the fugitives hiding in the mangrove, without the bag, and turned him over to the police, and then found the bag a little later, Inside were 36 conch already removed from their shells, two red helmet shells still alive and a giant triton also alive. The man admitted to having caught these protected species and provided his identity as well as that of his accomplice. A report has been sent to the prosecutor and the two poach will be called before the judge, not only for having caught these protected species, but having done so in the waters of the Réserve Naturelle. The guard put the living shellfish back in the water as well as the dead conch, in two different places in the bay.

Fishing is strictly forbidden in the Réserve Naturelle and the acts committed by these two poachers are even more illegal as conch is a protected species. Amateur fishermen are prohibited from taking them, at all times and in all places. Fishing for conch is limited to professional fishermen between October and December, an only outside of protected zones, it goes without saying. When it comes to illegal fishing of conch or illegal possession of this shellfish, the offenders are subject to administrative fines and penal sanctions that as high as 22,500€ and six months in prison.

On April 29, the Réserve seized a trap recently placed offshore by the beach of Coralita, in the middle of the Réserve Naturelle. The fish were set free and the trap destroyed and transported to the eco-site at Grandes Cayes.

Pêche illégale pendant le confinement
Pêche illégale pendant le confinement

On May 1, while the island was under full confinement, the Réserve surprised four fishermen who arrived at Pinel by kayak. All very young, at first they denied that they had been fishing then had to admit their crime after two underwater spear guns and the fish they caught were found. The kayak, as well as their fishing gear, was seized, and the Réserve reported them for illegal fishing.

Ensuring environmental communication, awareness, and education

Sculpture anatomique d’un dauphin… Anatomical sculpture of a dolphin…
Sculpture anatomique d’un dauphin… Anatomical sculpture of a dolphin…

New pedagogical tools

Contour Global, the company that runs one of the two Galisbay electric plants, met with the Réserve Naturelle on the subject of pedagogical tools to promote environmental protection, for which they are providing financing of 14,000€. An agreement was signed with the Réserve, which will make these activity notebooks and binoculars available to students to help raise their environmental awareness. At the same time, anatomical sculptures of a dolphin, a turtle, and a tropicbird are being completed. They will allow the students to discover the essential internal organs of these three animals, as can be seen in the photos below. The goal is to invite the students to visit the offices of the Réserve Naturelle at Hope Estate, which will be transformed into an academic arena to welcome them. They will also enjoy a simulated dive to a protected coral reef in Saint Martin, thanks to three pairs of virtual reality glasses.

Sensibilisation sur le terrain avec Vincent Oliva Awareness in the field with Vincent Oliva Oliva
Sensibilisation sur le terrain avec Vincent Oliva Awareness in the field with Vincent Oliva Oliva

Reinforcing environmental education

In 2019, 26 classes were regularly taken on field trips to help raise their environmental awareness, a subject also taught in the schools. With this in mind, seven agreements were signed, with the French Quarter and Soualiga middle schools, the Robert Weinum high school, the professional high school, Happy School, Marie-Antoinette Richards school, Clair Saint-Maximim school, where two classes received the label “Educational Marine Area,” as assigned by the French Office for Biodiversity. A sixth grade class at the Soualiga middle school also benefits from this label. The idea for these students, with the advice of the Réserve, is to define priorities for the protection of the biodiversity at the site for which they are responsible and to apply a scholastic approach to real-world examples, for example the replanting of the mangroves. In addition, new agreements are in the works with the Émile Choisy, Siméone Trott, Élie Gibbs, and Lamartine schools. At the same time, the Réserve meets regularly with the students studying for their BAPAAT (Brevet d’aptitude professionnelle d’assistant animateur technicien). From January 7 through March 16, 2020, the date when the schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Réserve Naturelle led 74 academic interventions, including 12 in the field terrain, and visits to 10 schools for 37 classes, for a total students 740 students.In 2019, 26 classes were regularly taken on field trips to help raise their environmental awareness, a subject also taught in the schools. With this in mind, seven agreements were signed, with the French Quarter and Soualiga middle schools, the Robert Weinum high school, the professional high school, Happy School, Marie-Antoinette Richards school, Clair Saint-Maximim school, where two classes received the label “Educational Marine Area,” as assigned by the French Office for Biodiversity. A sixth grade class at the Soualiga middle school also benefits from this label. The idea for these students, with the advice of the Réserve, is to define priorities for the protection of the biodiversity at the site for which they are responsible and to apply a scholastic approach to real-world examples, for example the replanting of the mangroves. In addition, new agreements are in the works with the Émile Choisy, Siméone Trott, Élie Gibbs, and Lamartine schools. At the same time, the Réserve meets regularly with the students studying for their BAPAAT (Brevet d’aptitude professionnelle d’assistant animateur technicien). From January 7 through March 16, 2020, the date when the schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Réserve Naturelle led 74 academic interventions, including 12 in the field terrain, and visits to 10 schools for 37 classes, for a total students 740 students.

The Réserve selected nine themes for these presentations:

  • Presentation of the Réserve, its role, and the jobs needed on a daily basis
  • Various eco-systems
  • Mangroves
  • Flora and fauna
  • Sea turtles
  • Protection of groupers
  • The mangrove nursery
  • Planting of mangrove seedlings
  • La pollution et ses conséquences
Five classes are actively participating in the regeneration of the mangroves destroyed by hurricane Irma, by planting seedlings from the mangrove nursery set up by the Réserve, very close to the Etang des Salines d’Orient. This actual application in the field of theoretic information they receive in class includes follow- up so that the students can monitor the growth of their seedlings.

Plantation d’un palétuvier par un jeune écolier - A young student planting of a mangrove

Sea Discovery Day
Sea Discovery Day

The Réserve at Sea Discovery Day…

As it is every year, the Réserve Naturelle took part in Sea Discovery Day, organized by Métimer, the association of nautical professionals, on November 27, 2019. A total of 230 kids among the most disadvantaged on the island, were able to discover the joys of navigation aboard boats provided by sponsors of the association. After landing on the small island of Tintamare, these kids were able to enjoy swimming and aquatic games, as well as a long walk with the team from the Réserve, to teach them about the fragility of the ecosystems.

… And at the Heineken Regatta

Once again this year, the Réserve Naturelle worked with the organizers of the Heineken Regatta to help build awareness about the protection of marine mammals during this event that is held the first weekend in March. The Réserve intervened the day before the start of the regatta to share the same message at the race briefing. In connection with the Agoa sanctuary, before each race, the Réserve Naturelle made sure that no marine mammal would cross the path of one of the large sailboats taking part in this renowned regatta.

Plongée virtuelle

Virtual diving in the Réserve Naturelle

Accompanied by the NGO, Blue Finance, the Réserve Naturelle has launched a virtual reality project designed to allow the public to discover the underwater milieu that is protected. Equipped with virtual-reality helmets, participants find themselves submerged and surrounded by coral, sea grass beds, and can discover underwater flora and fauna as if they were actually diving. The event is itinerant and was hosted in its initial phase by the Hommage Hotel at Nettle Bay, then at SXM Music Festival, before being put on hold in early March with the confinement of the population. The goal of Blue Finance is to put its expertise and its experience to work in the financing of sustainable management for protected marine areas (MPA). It hopes to improve the management of at least 20 MPA’s by 2030, as well-managed, well-financed MPA’s are considered one of the most effective tools to reduce local threats to marine diversity.

Optimizing management means

Le guide et l’application mobile
Le guide et l’application mobile

A guide to restore and revitalize the mangrove

A technical guide titled “The Restoration Of The Mangrove” and a mobile application intended to facilitate the work of the managers of humid zones, both created by the Resource Center For Wetlands, were presented to Julien Chalifour an Christophe Joe, respectively in charge of the scientific office and the guards at the Réserve Naturelle, as well as to the National Forests Office, the National Office For Hunting and Wildlife, several environmental associations, and the managers of wetlands in the French Caribbean islands. The French committee of the International Union For Conservation of Nature hosted training in Guadeloupe on the restoration and revitalization of the mangrove on November 18 and 19. The technical guide presents the results of existing experience in mangrove restoration and the associated techniques, with drawings and tables. For the Réserve Naturelle, it is important that this guide is widely read and that the practices it recommends are collectively accepted, seeing that the Réserve was refused financing on the grounds that the use of a nursery was inappropriate in the case of restoring the mangrove. But that reasoning is contradicted in this technical guide, which establishes the efficiency of nurseries in the case where natural regeneration of the mangroves is impossible or insufficient, due to lack of trees and the absence of seeds, especially after the passage of a particularly strong hurricane.

Also presented during this atelier was the Avoid-Reduce-Compensate approach, which targets zero loss, or even a gain, in biodiversity, especially when a construction project impacts the biodiversity of an island. For example, the Grand Port Maritime of Guadeloupe finances studies of marine mammals and other subjects, which do not directly constitute compensation, but add to the knowledge accompanying other measures of reparation from inevitable impact on the environment.

First meeting of the CSTPN of Saint Martin

Since November 7, 2019, the Collectivity of Saint Martin has had its Territorial Scientific Council For Natural Heritage (Conseil scientifique territorial du patrimoine naturel or CSTPN), a regulatory obligation carried out in the past by Guadeloupe for Saint Martin. Composed of 19 members, all scientists, this group is charged with providing advice on all questions relative to the conservation of the island’s natural heritage, and especially the impact of development projects on protected sites. The first meeting of the CSTPN was held on January 24, 2020 at the prefecture in Saint Martin. Michel Vély, president of the Megaptera association, was elected president and his vice president is Julien Chalifour, scientific director of the Réserve Naturelle. One of the first projects examined by the governmental services is the validation of two proclamations aiming to control the introduction of species not naturally present in Saint Martin. The lists are currently being examined by various regional experts, and can benefit from the experience gained during the IUCN ateliers.

Jim Ruos
Jim Ruos

A generous donation

On March 12, 2020, the Réserve Naturelle received a donation of close to 3000€, bequeathed by Mary Ruos, the widow of Jim Ruos, who passed away on December 29, 2019 at the age of 85 in Virginia. A biologist by training and adept at falconry, Jim Ruos worked for 21 years at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, primarily interested in turtledoves, but also migratory birds and birds of prey, especially the peregrine falcon. He was the first American to suggest funding countries that promote protection of migratory bird habitats. In the late 80’s, he and his wife decided to create the company Caribbean Islands Travel Service, which met with success in the tourism sector, including in Saint Martin, where he had a lot of friends. The Réserve Naturelle sends its condolences and thanks the family of this friend of the environment for such a generous gesture

Perspective de l’espace scénique - Section rendering of the interior
Perspective de l’espace scénique - Section rendering of the interior

3 questions for Véronique Descharrières

How would you describe the building in just a few sentences?

What do you consider to be the purpose of the ICBI?

The Caribbean Institute For Insular Biodiversity is a tool in the arsenal for the future development of Saint Martin, to help define strategies based on ecotourism, sustainable development, university and scientific research, social development through the creation of jobs, economic development, and regional and international cooperation. This project proves the principle that buildings and living creatures are inevitably linked, and that it is possible to produce environments that satisfy all of the various sectors of the population, all while guaranteeing the protection of our biodiversity.

What impact did hurricane Irma have on this project?

With Irma, Saint Martin felt the reality of climate change. As a result, we reinforced the strength of the building by raising the ground floor and by creating a post-hurricane safety system to guarantee the autonomy of the Institute and reinforce the protective role of the gardens. We also worked closely with the Réserve Naturelle so that the site strongly demonstrates the force of climatic events, the fragility of the biodiversity, and the need for protection, primarily through large-format 3D displays, in which visitors will be virtually immerged.

How would you describe the building in just a few sentences?

Built on stilts, the building will serve to welcome the public to its galleries and host scientific researchers in designated professional spaces. The structure extends to the exterior by way of bridges and pathways that allows access to small spaces for bird watching. All along the promenade that overlooks the mangrove and links the Institute to the sea, piers on stilts preserve the natural character of the shore, and provide places that are perfect for observation and contemplation with their panoramic views of the Réserve Naturelle.

Vidéos sur https://www.vedea.archi/projet/institut-caribeen- de-la-biodiversite-insulaire  –> click on “projets” puis sur “ICBI”

Reinforcing local and regional commitment to the Réserve

Saint Martin at the heart of a strategic document

On November 5, the Réserve hosted a technical atelier in its offices, which was led by the French Agency for Biodiversity (AFB), the local representative of the Direction de la Mer and its local agent, ImpacMer. The idea was to collect the necessary elements to edit a strategic document for the maritime zone of the French West Indies, including Saint Martin. The Saint Martin port authority was present, alongside the Direction de la Mer, DEAL, the Collectivity of Saint Martin, and Métimer, the association of nautical professionals. The challenge was to define the existing uses and pressures put on the zone and localize them. The extension of the Port of Galisbay, maritime traffic, and leisure activities at sea, the marinas, and industrial activities were among the subjects on the agenda. The AFB will coordinate the editing of a recap of these discussions, which will then be submitted to the participants.

Forum et colloque autour des aires marines protégées à Biarritz Forum and colloquium in Biarritz on protected marine areas
Forum et colloque autour des aires marines protégées à Biarritz Forum and colloquium in Biarritz on protected marine areas

Nicolas Maslach and Julien Chalifour went to Biarritz on November 21-25 for the management forum for protected marine zones (AMP), during which the managers shared their experiences before participating in the fourth national colloquium for AMP’s, and the colloquium for protected terrestrial areas. Organized by the French Office for Biodiversity (AFB), the French committee of the IUCN and the minister of ecological transition, the goal of the AMP colloquium was to bring together all those concerned with biodiversity and have them contribute to the development of the next national strategy for protected marine areas, to ensure netter management of their network, and to implement the biodiversity project outlined by the minister. In this context, the AFB asked the participants to bring their expertise and share their expectations in terms of protection of the maritime domain. These interventions shed light on the major expectations the managers have in terms of indispensable human resources to avoid the illusion that these protected zones exist in name only. Yes, the creation of new protected marine zones is a good thing, as long as these regions are effectively and efficiently managed and preserved. Another important request concerned awareness of the land-sea relationship, which should be reinforced in the national strategy. Or at what point does what happens on land impact the marine zones?

Sortie sur le terrain - A field trip À Saint-Martin, les espèces exotiques envahissantes sont nombreuses, à terre et en mer, et notamment : la liane-corail (Antigonon leptopus), l’iguane commun (Iguana iguana), le singe vert (Chlorocebus sabaeus), la mangouste indienne, l’algue Haliphola stipulacea, le poisson-lion (Pterois volitans). Sans parler du chat, animal de compagnie friand de caresses, mais aussi redoutable prédateur des oiseaux et lézards qui fréquentent nos jardins.
Sortie sur le terrain - A field trip À Saint-Martin, les espèces exotiques envahissantes sont nombreuses, à terre et en mer, et notamment : la liane-corail (Antigonon leptopus), l’iguane commun (Iguana iguana), le singe vert (Chlorocebus sabaeus), la mang

On February 10-14, 2020, Julien Chalifour went to Martinique to participate in a national workshop on the management of exotic invasive species as organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in France. The point person for this field in Saint Martin, Julien Chalifour worked alongside other experts from metropolitan France and almost all of the overseas territories, all concerned by this important subject. This workshop provided an opportunity to synthesize the current challenges for each territory, to identify the strongest threats, current and future, and to share the results of each participant’s experiences. The invasion by exotic species constitutes one of the principal causes of erosion of the diversity in the overseas territories, the principal French reservoir of biodiversity. This problem, exacerbated by trade and transport as established by humans, is complex and expensive to manage. A good awareness campaign and early detection are among the tools of good management and help limit the resources and costs, yet often these things are put in place when it’s already too late. Knowing that the European Union requires its members to continue the fight against exotic invasive species, the working made a list of all the data provided, in order to make recommendations to send to the directors of decision-making institutions.

In Saint Martin, there are many exotic invasive species on land and at sea, including: the coral vine (Antigonon leptopus), the common iguana (Iguana iguana), the green monkey (Chlorocebus sabaeus), the Indian mongoose, Haliphola stipulacea algae, and the lionfish (Pterois volitans). Not to mention cats, a friendly pet fond of caresses, but also a champion predator of birds and lizards found in our gardens.
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