Journal-39

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Journal-39

Pierre Aliotti, président de l’association de gestion de la Réserve naturelle de Saint-Martin

As president of the management association for La Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin since its inception in 1998, Harvey Viotty filled the role selflessly and with great enthusiasm. Stepping into his shoes, I am committed to perpetuating the same spirit that guides La Réserve since its debut: a sense of dialogue, goodwill, comprehension, respect for the specificities of our island and its regulations, all of which are the fundamentals of success, and deeply ingrained in our ethos. There is an enormous amount of work to do, and we must prioritize in order to relaunch the management plan for 2018-2027, while trying to meet its 49 objectives, as outlined in 125 actions. As the management association, we bring our experience and our level of expertise to the development and improvement of the island of Saint Martin. In addition, to best protect it, we need to reinforce our economic model by way of innovative new tools for management, protection, and compensation. Anticipate climate changes, better understand the challenges to better control them, be prepared for the risks of a hurricane… The work of the staff of the natural reserve goes beyond that of its management goals. The needs are apparent: - protect the mangrove, and establish the first natural barrier against hurricane swells; - protect the beaches as egg-laying sites for sea turtles, and guarantee that these spots do not disappear due to erosion, rising sea levels, or urbanization; - preserve the integrity of our natural resources, and improve the quality of life for the residents of Saint Martin; - protect the marine milieu, the coral, the underwater plant beds, and also support the tourism, hotels, and the nautical sector, the economic pillars of Saint Martin. A rather recent sense of awareness on an international level has shined a spotlight on the fact that the economic services provided by nature are massive, and that we must do our best to protect it, reinforce it, and institute long-term development programs that respect our eco-systems. New paradigms for growth must be created at every level of the island. With its years of experience, La Réserve Naturelle is a tool that can be called upon to help the French government, the Collectivité, businesses, associations, and individuals who need assistance or an objective opinion on the various development and improvement programs for Saint Martin.

 

Pierre Aliotti, president of the management association for La Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin

Bateaux au mouillage sauvage devant l’îlet Pinel - Illegal mooring of boats at the island of Pinel
Bateaux au mouillage sauvage devant l’îlet Pinel - Illegal mooring of boats at the island of Pinel

Installation of ecological moorings

The project to install ecological moorings, notably at Pinel, Tintamarre, Rocher Créole, and other protected sites, was presented by Nicolas Maslach. In explaining this strategy, the director of La Réserve put an accent on the fact that in a protected marine zone, much less in a national natural reserve, the management of moorings and the development of the nautical sector and related economic opportunities should not take place at the detriment of the protection of our biodiversity. In addition, the marine sites of La Réserve Naturelle are not designed to fill the need for additional berths at marinas or the costs of places at the dock. And we are forced to admit, that in spite of the presence of moorings that have been installed for many years at sites within La Réserve Naturelle’s marine park, there are too many boats and sailors that still use their anchors. This will no longer be acceptable, as is already the case in Les Saintes, at Petite-Terre, and elsewhere in the region. The idea is not to forbid use, but to offer better service for those who use these sites that are already popular, and to limit the use at sites little or not used. Maslach added that this strategy is not intended to meet the need for moorings, which is ever increasing. The sites will be equipped with mooring plan that reflects their ecological specificities and how many boats they can handle. In the end, the Réserve hopes to install 125 ecological moorings by the end of 2021, primarily at sites at Pinel, Tintamarre, and Rocher Créole. An online application will be available for those who wish to spend the night aboard their boat at these sites within La Réserve Naturelle. Reservations are obligatory and can be made via a smartphone or tablet with Wi-Fi: payment will be requested based on the number of people aboard, the length of the stay, the size of the boat, and its technical specifications. The fees paid will allow the management of La Réserve Naturelle to maintain these installations.

Last but not least, the management association for La Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin has been recognized by prefectural decree as an environmental protection association (Decree 2021-105).

This recognition bestowed on the management association for La Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin primarily provides facilitated access to information and meetings of public organizations whose subjects are related to environmental conservation. The association also now has legal presumption to protect its interests before administrative courts, and can more easily engage in civil action—or institute civil action proceedings and injunctions in civil court. Finally, the management association also has greater leeway in going before a criminal judge to request compensation for damages resulting from infractions (L142-2 in the environmental code). The list of associations recognized for environmental projection can be found online: http://www.guadeloupe.developpement-durable. gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/assos_agreees_jusqu_en_2026.pdf

Miscellaneous

Carte de la Réserve Naturelle
Carte de la Réserve Naturelle

Over the past few months, in discussions with its various partners—thought-leaders, elected officials, civil servants—as well as the general population, La Réserve naturelle realized that many of these people did not have a clear or precise vision of the protected areas in the natural reserve, which could lead to a lack of understanding or cause problems with regulatory issues. In order to allow everyone to easily find information that might be of interest to them, the link below allows access to the decree that created La Réserve Naturelle, the prefectural decree regulating activities allowed within La Réserve Naturelle, as well as boundary maps for the listed sites within its perimeter.

Good to know

Article L332-10 of the environmental code Total or partial reclassification of a protected area in a natural reserve can only take place after a complete public inquiry has been held in accordance with Chapter III of Title II of Book I of the current code, and by decree of the Council of State when it concerns a national natural reserve.

Extraits des plans de bornage de la réserve naturelle
Sections of the boundary maps for La Réserve Naturelle
Extraits des plans de bornage de la réserve naturelle
Sections of the boundary maps for La Réserve Naturelle
Extraits des plans de bornage de la réserve naturelle
Sections of the boundary maps for La Réserve Naturelle
Extraits des plans de bornage de la réserve naturelle
Sections of the boundary maps for La Réserve Naturelle
Extraits des plans de bornage de la réserve naturelle
Sections of the boundary maps for La Réserve Naturelle
Extraits des plans de bornage de la réserve naturelle
Sections of the boundary maps for La Réserve Naturelle
Extraits des plans de bornage de la réserve naturelle
Sections of the boundary maps for La Réserve Naturelle
Le comité consultatif réuni le 18 mai 2021 - The advisory committee met on May 18, 2021

The advisory committee for La Réserve Naturelle met on May 18, 2021, supervised by Serge Goutheyron, prefect. All members were there and approved the annual report for 2020, as well as the accountant’s report for 2020 and the initial budget for 2021.

Des graines et des pousses de palétuviers - Mangrove seeds and seedlings
Des graines et des pousses de palétuviers - Mangrove seeds and seedlings

A biodiversity nursery and restoring a wetlands wasteland

Initiated by La Réserve Naturelle and the Saint Martin North Rotary Club several months after hurricane Irma destroyed large swathes of the island’s wetlands, especially in French Quarter, the biodiversity nursery has been operational for the past two years. With several thousand mangrove seeds and seedlings planted close to the Salines d’Orient salt pond, the nursery is a tool in the fight to restore these essential areas for birdlife, as well as for the protection of the coasts against the devastating effects of storm surge. At the same time, this nursery also hosts visits by more than 3,000 school students per year from Saint Martin to build their awareness of the importance of these wetlands for the island. Pleased with the success of this project, and with financial support from the Fondation de France, the management association for La Réserve Naturelle will soon launch an ambitious new project to restore a wetland area that has deteriorated, as well as put in a new discovery path, and continue their awareness campaign for the general public and students. This project, which has generated great enthusiasm amongst the members of the advisory committee, will not only add to public awareness but also be the catalyst to enact items from the management plan that concern the wetlands protected within La Réserve Naturelle. This project will also try to compensate in part for the increasing rarity of such wetlands on the entire island of Saint Martin.

I.C.B.I
I.C.B.I

Supported by the management association of La Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin and included in its 2018-2027 management plan, the ICBI is moving forward. Following a public inquiry led by the prefecture in Saint-Martin at the end of 2020, Nicolas Maslach presented this ambitious project to the island’s public authorities. The Collectivité, The Economic, Social, and Cultural Council, The Inter-Professional Consular Chamber; The Neighborhood Council of Grand-Case, The Territorial Urbanism Commission, and the Territorial Council of the Collectivité voted unanimously in favor of ICBI as a project of general interest for the island! Pleased with this decision, Nicolas Maslach continues to promote the Institute, particularly in his search for financial partners. The Institute already benefits from the support of the FEDER for its research and innovation divisions, which will be developed once it opens.

The ICBI In The Management Plan

The ICBI (Caribbean Institute for Insular Biodiversity) project included in the 2018-2027 management plan was validated by the advisory committee of La Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin in 2013 and 2014. It meets several of the anticipated goals and activities within the management plan, as explained down below :

  • Reflect on possible interventions by the management association as a service provider for the preservation of the island’s natural heritage within the framework of the ICBI.
  • Establish the “Maison de la Réserve” within the framework of the ICBI.
  • Use the RN as a vehicle to promote our natural heritage, and for eco-tourism.
  • Improvements that will better showcase the RNN’s geological, cultural, and archeological heritage.
  • Improvements in the reception of the public.
  • Highlight the activities and the natural heritage of the RNN within the framework of the ICBI

Key factors of success1 : Keeping an eye on the regulations and the level of human activities compatible with the goals of La Réserve

Carte de la Réserve
Carte de la Réserve

A new prefectural decree regulates practices and commercial activities in La Réserve Naturelle Facteur clé de réussite 1 : Veiller au respect de la réglementation et à une pratique des activités humaines compatible avec les objectifs de la Réserve Un arrêté

At the previous advisory committee meeting in 2020, the members validated the signature of a prefectural decree that would clarify public practices and commercial activities in the protected marine and terrestrial zones within La Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin. This went into effect on July 23, 2020. This new dictate augments ministerial decree 98-802 dated September 3, 1998, which created La Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin. All of the regulations for La Réserve and a list of protected zones within La Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin can be found online: https://reservenaturelle-saint-martin.com/fr/decrets

Fiche du suivi scientifique de la station récifale de l’îlet Pinel présentée lors du comité consultatif. Cf.RA 2020
Fiche du suivi scientifique de la station récifale de l’îlet Pinel présentée lors du comité consultatif. Cf.RA 2020

Evaluation of the anthropic impact of activities on the island of Pinel

Located within the perimeter of La Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin, in the heart of the protected marine zone, the restaurants on the island of Pinel are extremely popular with residents as well as tourists. They are part of the “post card” of tourist attractions on the French side, and spearhead tourism in Saint Martin along with the area developed around Orient Bay. Their economic importance comes from the generation of important direct and indirect revenues. These activities, and the numbers of people who go there, mean that there is an ecological hit, especially in terms of the marine milieus close by. Scientific studies—presented to the members of the advisory committee—show a correlation between the deterioration of these aquatic milieus and the anthropic activities requiring pumping of sea water, desalination, waste treatment, added to the numerous boats, usage of anchors, and public activities, all of which are factors leading to damage of the underwater sea beds and the coral. In this light, the management association of La Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin works toward the signing of a partnership agreement with the commercial entities on Pinel, so that they can actually see the impact that their activities have on natural sites, and they will participate in their projection in order to diminish, or even eliminate, the recognized impact that these activities have on protected areas. In addition, the businesses are invited to approach the services of the management association of La Réserve Naturelle so that they can study together the actions that will be put into place to curb this process, which will consist primarily in the realization of the actions listed in the management plan: creation of mooring zones; better reception of the public; scientific studies, development of programs to restore the underwater sea plant beds…

L’éclaircissement du couvert d’herbiers est formellement identifié sur les zones de mouillage - Clarification of underwater sea plant coverage is formally identified in mooring zones

Long Term Goal N°1 : Understanding and Monitoring Our Natural Heritage

Le mérou géant observé le 22 octobre 2020 - The giant grouper seen on October 22, 2020
Le mérou géant observé le 22 octobre 2020 - The giant grouper seen on October 22, 2020

Good News For The Life Biodiv’Om Project

Des alevins identifiés - Identify alevins Halfway through its completion, after two and a half years of work, the Life Biodiv’Om project was submitted to an audit from Europe, led by an outside firm. This task has now been completed and encouraged the management association of La Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin to continue along this path. Aude Berger presented advancements made by the project via video conference with numerous photos and videos of nocturnal fishing, samples of post-larvae, and aquariums, not forgetting her meeting with a giant grouper on October 22, 2020.

Life Biodiv’Om: More Night Fishing

In early 2021 the Life Biodiv’Om project went on with the relaunch of nocturnal fishing, during the period of the new moon in the months of February, March, April, and May, and taking samples of post-larvae, at the moment they colonize shallow coastal waters. Bad weather conditions prohibited night excursions at sea, making it impossible to place the luminous traps meant to attract the alevins. The results of this exploratory fishing are considered satisfying, even if the grouper was the only species to be identified. The next night fishing excursions are planned for August, September, and October 2021.

If you would like to participate in this fascinating scientific program, please feel free to send an email to Aude Berger at reservenat.aude@yahoo.com. You would go out to sea with Aude and two other volunteers for a few evenings, around the date of the new moon, to place the traps, then go back to get them at dawn. The identification of the alevins comes next: only those non-identified young fish are placed in an aquarium, the other fish are immediately released back into the sea. Aude Berger sincerely thanks the volunteers for their support as these missions at sea would not be possible without them. She looks forward to seeing them again in August, September, and October of this year.
Tortue échouée après une rencontre avec un engin nautique motorisé A sea turtle washed ashore after being hit by a motorized nautical vehicle
Tortue échouée après une rencontre avec un engin nautique motorisé A sea turtle washed ashore after being hit by a motorized nautical vehicle

Training of veterinarians to treat sea turtles

Veterinarians in Saint Martin who were interested to learn more about treating injured sea turtles took part in a training via video conference led by a veterinarian, the France Sea Turtles Group, and the Museum of Natural History. In the absence of a treatment center dedicated to the care of sea turtles, this training met a real need, as the number of injured sea turtles washing ashore has multiplied in recent years.

Baleine à bosse et son baleineau - A humpback whale and her caf l © Laurent Bouveret
Baleine à bosse et son baleineau - A humpback whale and her caf l © Laurent Bouveret

Update on the Cari’mam Project

On January 19, 2021, the steering committee for the Cari’mam project, led by the Agoa sanctuary, and La Réserve Naturelle did an update on the advancement of the parts of the project intended for Saint Martin. The management association for La Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin (AGRNSM) evoked the impossibility of launching the 2020-2021 Megara campaign, due to lack of prefinancing, due to difficulties caused by Covid 19. As the project is financed by the European Union, a call for tenders went out anyway in November 2020. Only one proposal was received in return, but it was impossible to follow up. However, in February 2020, La Réserve went ahead with the installation of a passive hydrophone supplied by Agoa as part of CARI’MAM project. This was placed at a depth of fifteen meters to capture the songs of marine mammals, which are recorded one minute, every five minutes, continuously. The recordings are collected once per month, at which time the batteries need to be replaced. The sounds are transmitted to researchers at the University of Toulon, which has developed artificial intelligence capable of learning to identify the sounds of the sea, in order to automatically handle the hours and hours of acoustic recordings contributed from all across the Caribbean.

La station d’épuration de la pointe des Canonniers - The watert reatment plant at the Pointe des Canonniers
La station d’épuration de la pointe des Canonniers - The watert reatment plant at the Pointe des Canonniers

EEASM: Surveillance of the quality of wastewater

As part of the surveillance of the quality of wastewater from water treatment plants by the Établissement de l’eau et de l’assainissement de Saint-Martin (EEASM), a meeting was held on January 12, 2021 at the prefecture at the request of the DEAL (Direction for the Environment, Sanitation, and Housing). This meeting, which was attended by La Réserve Naturelle, was led by Bruno Grézillier, a specialist in the subject of the quality of water and the laws concerning it, at the DEAL, in order to examine the stations at the Pointe des Canonniers and in French Quarter, and the quality of their wastewater.

Suivi de la population de Melocactus Intortus à Cactus Place - Study of the Melocactus Intortus population at Cactus Place
La station d’épuration de la pointe des Canonniers - The watert reatment plant at the Pointe des Canonniers

Scientific Study of Melocactus Intortus

Close to 2500 individual Melocactus Intortus cactus, an iconic and protected species, were evaluated at the following three sites: Cactus Place, Wilderness, and Babit Point. This impressive number was reached by Maât Matheux, an intern at La Réserve Naturelle from March 29 through May 15, 2021. She is also a student at the University of Villeurbanne, where she is studying life sciences with an accent on biodiversity. Her task consisted of studying the populations of Melocactus Intortus, evaluating the impact of human activities on these populations, and comparing the three sites, as well as participating in other projects for the scientific office and carrying out activities for other offices as well. This mission is part of the 2021 monitoring program of the populations of “Turk’s Head” cactus, held every five years at the three abovementioned sites. The intern noted rather contrasting situations at the three sites, based on their popularity with visitors, the impact of hurricane Irma, the invasion of Cactoblastis Cactorum butterflies and caterpillars, and deterioration caused by domestic animals (primarily donkeys and horses, and especially at Babit Point). This study turned out to be quite complicated, as the last one was done in 2016, before hurricane Irma, which damaged a great number of cactus; as well as for other reasons: illegal taking of plants, drought… At the end of the day, the population of Melocactus Intortus is still present, but primarily consisting of young specimens. The bad news is that 50% of these cactus are injured or weakened by parasites due to the presence of the Cactoblastis Cactorum moth, as is also the case in other places in the West Indies. This population therefore remains fragile and more than ever requires special attention to ensure its survival.

A trial project to battle the presence of the Cactoblastis Cactorum moth is underway in Saint Barth, with the help of a mushroom. This exotic yet invasive species, which feeds on the cactus in the Opuntia familty, represents a scourge in the Caribbean, Mexico, Florida, and the United States, where it was introduced by humans to limit the invasion of cacti also introduced by humans.
Chantal Imperiale sur le terrain Fieldwork for Chantal Imperiale
Chantal Imperiale sur le terrain Fieldwork for Chantal Imperiale

Une CPE en stage à la Réserve naturelle

Chantal Impériale, CPE au collège Soualiga, en formation pour un BTS « Gestion et protection de la nature » avec une école d’Angers, à distance, a effectué son stage pratique d’une durée de huit semaines à la réserve naturelle. Pendant ce stage, elle a fait avancer le projet Life Biodiv’Om, ainsi que les suivis scientifiques et les autres actions du pôle scientifique.

Transfert de savoir-faire

Un transfert de savoir-faire, prévu dans le programme Life Biodiv’Om, a eu lieu en avril 2021, lors de la formation de Karl Questel, de l’Agence territoriale de l’environnement (ATE) de Saint-Barth. Cette formation, comme celle donnée par Ecocéan à la Réserve naturelle, a porté sur la technique de pêche exploratoire des post-larves et de leur traitement. Deux autres agents de l’ATE bénéficieront prochainement d’une formation identique, dans le cadre de la réplicabilité du programme.

Traces de ponte sur la baie Orientale - Traces of egg-laying at Orient Bay
Traces de ponte sur la baie Orientale - Traces of egg-laying at Orient Bay

Sea Turtles and Eco-Volunteers

The 2021 season for sea turtles got underway with a first meeting for the eco-volunteers on April 1. Approximately 30 volunteers answered the call for service, but that is not sufficient. If the idea of participating in the activities of La Réserve Naturelle appeals to you, including regularly walking the beaches where you are assigned and noting the traces left by the turtles that came to dig their nests. It is never too late to participate! Please contact Aude Berger at reservenat.aude@yahoo.com.

Long Term Goal N°2 : Surveillance by Territorial Environmental Police - SP

Une tourterelle - A turtledove
Une tourterelle - A turtledove

During the first quarter of 2021, the technical office and the nature police of La Réserve Naturelle ran 178 control patrols: 79 patrols on land and 99 at sea. Of these, 30 controls were judged non-conforming: 16 on land and 14 at sea. Three reports were made for infractions.

Action SP2 Continue and Reinforce Missions by the Environmental Police

A decree to regulate hunting

On May 6 2021, as a local ornithology expert, Julien Chalifour participated in a video conference oganized by the OFB, on behalf of the Departmental Commission For Hunting and Wildlife for the islands of Saint Martin and Guadeloupe. A report on hunting logs and police action related to hunting – controls and fines – was presented, as well as a look at the production of scientific knowlegde on the kinds and numbers of species hunted. At the end of the meeting, it was decided to continue the dialogue in order to outline a proposition for an annual decree that would govern hunting during the 2001- 2022 season, between July 25, 2021 and January 2, 2022. This decree would define the hunting season, conditions, huntable species, and eventual quotas. Few hunting licenses are requested in Saint Martin, where people hunt ducks, turtledoves, pigeons, mockingbirds… The same is not true in Guadeloupe, but in both cases, hunting quotas are limited for certain species if their numbers are considered too low. Hunters from Guadeloupe sometimes come to Saint Martin, where the birds are less fearful than those in Guadeloupe. Remember that all hunting is forbidden in La Réserve Naturelle!

Panneaux solaires sur l’îlet Pinel - Solar Panels on Pinel Islet
Panneaux solaires sur l’îlet Pinel - Solar Panels on Pinel Islet
  • On April 15, 2021, Julien Chalifour was the civil party in the judgment of S.L. in the criminal court and requested 1 euro in damages and interest. In October 2020, when S. L. was on a scooter and caused a traffic jam on the road in Cul-de-Sac. When drivers on the road started honking with impatience, he decided to make a fast u-turn against two lanes of traffic, causing Chalifour to slam on his brakes to avoid him. Rather agitated, S. L. – who had just recognized the agent as the one who had caught him in the act of illegal fishing in the natural reserve a few months earlier – moved alongside the car to threaten, insult, and use physical violence against Chalifour and the vehicle belonging to La Réserve. Absent from the hearing, S.L. was judged guilty of the charges.
  • The manager of a restaurant on Pinel was reported for three infractions of the environmental code, after the installation of solar panels on a surface of 115 square meters, protected within La Réserve Naturelle. The management association of La Réserve Naturelle blamed him for having modified the appearance of a national natural reserve without permission, for not having informed the management association about this work, and not respecting the formal notice issued by La Réserve Naturelle. This report, relating to the environmental code — and not the urbanism code, like other infractions on Pinel— has been sent to the prosecutor.
  • plane from the Grand-Case Air Club was reported for flying over the island of Tintamarre and trying to land there.
  • A gyrocopter was also reported for flying over Tintamarre. The pilots of these aircrafts were called before the prosecutor and reminded of the letter of the law.
  • La Réserve has reinforced surveillance on the 20-meter strip of water closest to the coastline, as this zone is forbidden by prefectural decree to mooring with an anchor.
  • A semi-rigid boat was seized by La Réserve at the Salines d’Orient salt pond, where it was found abandoned on the shore. It has been stored by La Réserve.
  • On May 10, 2021, La Réserve seized a fish net and a trap that were found at the mouth of the Etang aux Poissons.

L’avion de l’aéroclub de Grand-Case survolant Tintamarre The plane from the Grand-Case Air Club flying over TintamarreLe canot saisi par la réserve naturelle The boat seized by La Réserve NaturelleUn filet saisi par la réserve - Fish net seized by the reserve

Les gardes assermentés et la brigade nautique de la gendarmerie en mission conjointe The certified guards of La Réserve and the nautical brigade of the gendarmerie on a joint mission
Les gardes assermentés et la brigade nautique de la gendarmerie en mission conjointe The certified guards of La Réserve and the nautical brigade of the gendarmerie on a joint mission

Collaboration with the gendarmerie

For many years, the environmental police at La Réserve have worked in collaboration with the gendarmerie, and exchange information regularly with various services and the military.

  • The local chief of mobile gendarmes regularly invites La Réserve to meet the new squads when they arrive on the island.
  • La Réserve and the Security and Intervention Squad of the Gendarmerie (PSIG) share their information via two WhatsApp numbers.
  • La Réserve has an emergency number for the PSIG officer on duty, available 24/7.
  • La Réserve and the nautical brigade of the gendarmerie collaborate regularly and occasionally organize joint operations.

Long Term Goal N°3 : Participation In Rechearch - PR

Lambi - Conch
Lambi - Conch

Develop a tool to identify the provenance of conch

From March 30-April 1, La Réserve Naturelle hosted Julien Lopez-Pardo, from the technical knowledge unit at the OFB in Guadeloupe. His mission concerned an isotopic method of detecting the origin of conch. The agents of La Réserve Naturelle provided logisical support for this mission, at the sites of Grand-Case and Orient Bay, where they dove from the reserve’s boat to capture 40 conchs. The hope of the OFB is to create a standardized control test to determine where the conchs were captured. The goal is that this new control tool would engender better management of the conch populations in the French West Indies. At this time, only the presentation of invoices indicate the country of origin for the conch when sold.

Meetings to protect of our biodiversity

participed in a video conference on the theme of “Sciences For Action,” organized by Reseach Foundation On Biodiversity (FRB), in partnership with the French Office of Biodiversity (OFB). This third year of these meetings was dedicated to the Overseas Territories, with an eye toward defining the next national strategy for biodiversity for 2022-2030. The goal of these meetings is to identify the challenges and potential solutions for the preservation of our biodiversity.

Three subjects were discussed:

  • Endogenous economic development that respects biodiversity
  • Ecological features of the Land-Sea continuum and development of the island
  • Human/Nature links and the protection of biodiversity

A Beneficial CSTPN Meeting

On March 25, 2021, a video conference was held for the members of the Territorial Scientific and Natural Heritage Council (CSTPN). Composed of 19 scientists, this group provides advisory opinions related to the conservation of the natural heritage of the island, and particularly on the impact of development projects on protected species. Michel Vély, chairman of the association Megaptera, is the president, and his vice-president is Julien Chalifour, head of the scientific division of La Réserve Naturelle. Aude Kubik presented the management strategy for exotic invasive species, those species introduced by humans, and which have a negative impact on our biodiversity. She noted that the issue in Saint Martin is that much of its merchandise arrives via the Dutch side and is not controlled, and that the regulations are different between the two sides of the island. Antoine Lechevalier presented the Sea Basin Strategy Document (DSB). After this presentation, the CSTPN decided to make a motion and amend the DSB by the CSRPN in Guadeloupe and in Martinique. These three scientific councils deplore the weakness of the current proposal and that they were not asked to offer an opinion. They also regret the absence of pragmatic goals that are applicable and actually operational. Concerning the territorial contribution of Guadeloupe and Saint Martin to the national strategy for biodiversity, certain members proposed to post complementary information relative to comments made by the CSTPN, which can be consulted online for a period of two weeks. The consulting firm ARDOPS, hired by the AGRNSM as part of a collaboration with French governmental services, submitted a request for authorization to remove certain lizards as part of a study to create an inventory of native and exotic species in Saint Martin. This study, financed by the DEAL, will be led by the consulting firm in collaboration with the service of Karl Questel (ATE Saint Barth), to get started on the division of these species between the French side and Dutch side of the island. Aude Berger presented the Life Biodiv’OM project and its goal of creating an Important Zone for the Conservation of Birds (ZICO).

Long Term Goal N°4 : Education and creation of communication materials - CC

Le panneau installé par les gardes de la Réserve sur la plage de Baie blanche, à Tintamarre - The sign installed by the staff of La Réserve on the beach at Baie Blanche on Tintamarre
Le panneau installé par les gardes de la Réserve sur la plage de Baie blanche, à Tintamarre - The sign installed by the staff of La Réserve on the beach at Baie Blanche on Tintamarre

A sign to protect our sea plant beds

As announced at the end of 2020, the sign promised by Rebecca James to La Réserve Naturelle has been installed at the edge of the beach at Baie Blanche on Tintamarre. This sign was financed by the NWO Caribbean as part of the SCENES project, with thanks to the support of La Réserve for the work done by this young doctoral student on the importance of the stabilizing role played by sea plants in limiting coastal erosion. Bilingual, French/English, the sign is there to educate the public about the free eco-system services provided by these plants: prevention of coastal erosion, as well as a nursery, providing food, production of sand, clarity of water by the shores… These underwater fields are weakened by the presence of the exotic invasive species, Halophila, introduced by boat anchors, as well as other types of pollution.

A whale, a grouper, and a parrotfish, financed by Agoa, have joined the dolphin, the turtle, and the tropicbird previously financed by Contour Global. All of these sculptures are tools for the pedagogical service as part of the awareness campaigns developed by the Reserve.

Long Term Goal N°5 : Hospitality and Activities Services - PA

Emergence de bébés tortues luth - Emergence of baby leatherback turtles
Emergence de bébés tortues luth - Emergence of baby leatherback turtles

Ensure communications campaigns for awareness and education about the environment

Sea turtles at Orient Bay: restaurants educated on good behavior

As part of the agreement signed with Sindextour, the company that manages the five restaurants on the beach in Orient Bay, the employees of these restaurants attended a training session on February 24, 2021. They have been made aware of the correct behavior to adopt when a sea turtle comes to the beach to lay its eggs, following all the steps from the rise of the turtle toward the top of the beach to the emergence of the baby turtles.

Nicolas Maslach s’entretient avec des spectateurs - Nicolas Maslach addresses the attendees
Nicolas Maslach s’entretient avec des spectateurs - Nicolas Maslach addresses the attendees

Successful lecture on humpback whales

On March 28, 2021, approximately 100 people attended a lecture on humpback whales held at La Chapelle at Orient Bay. This lecture was organized and presented by Michel Vély, chairman of the association Megaptera, and Nicolas Maslach, director of La Réserve.

Visite pédagogique d’une classe de maternelle à la pépinière - A nursery school class on a pedagogical visit to a plant nursery
Visite pédagogique d’une classe de maternelle à la pépinière - A nursery school class on a pedagogical visit to a plant nursery

Continual growth of activities for the pedagogical

plongée virtuelle - A disabled student exploring the underwater world via a virtual dive

La Réserve’s pedagogical department is continually growing and offering additional activities, not only for school students, but also those at training centers. Since January 1, 2021, La Réserve has worked with 22 pedagogical entities to educate them on environmental protection within La Réserve Naturelle: nursery and elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, training centers, as well as the CREPS, scouts, the Jean de la Fontaine outdoor activity center, the association Cobraced, and the Galion equestrian center. Vincent Oliva, in charge of the pedagogical department, created 32 different themes all based on the importance of protecting our ecosystems. “The ecosystems are the living creatures that interact in these habitats, which are more frequently endangered by human activities,” he explains, citing the example of exotic invasive species introduced by humans into their environment. And as mostly Oliva presents all of these pedagogical activities to these various groups, it is always with pleasure that he welcomes other agents of La Réserve Naturelle to share their knowledge and their experience.

Less fortunate students have not been forgotten by La Réserve Naturelle, which regularly runs environmental awareness sessions in ULIS classes in the elementary school, at Soualiga Middle School, and Robert Weinum High School.
Observation de saut d’une baleine à bosse Observation of a humpback whale jumping
Observation de saut d’une baleine à bosse Observation of a humpback whale jumping

 

  • On May 15-16, 2021, thanks to the pedagogical department of La Réserve Naturelle, three Happy School classes – CE2, CM1 et CM2 – had the opportunity to spend a half-day sailing on a large catamaran, and certain were lucky enough to observe humpback whales jumping in the sea. Pedagogical activities in the classroom environment
  • Be it with nursery, elementary, or middle school students, one can see that the trees from the mangrove nursery created by La Réserve Naturelle, and planted along the edge of the Etang aux Poissons, are multiplying.
  • The Happy School CM2 class participated in the European Life Biodiv’Om project for conservation of Nassau grouper and giant grouper. Three classroom interventions allowed these students to understand the importance of this project and to prepare for their field trip. Welcomed by Aude Berger at La Réserve Naturelle in Anse Marcel, these students got started by sorting the post-larvae collected the night before, then identified the young alevins, with the help of the director of this European project.
  • Le 28 juin, la Réserve a été à l’honneur à l’occasion de la fête de fin d’année de l’école Omer Arrondell, avec un spectacle de marionnettes préparé par une classe de cours préparatoire sur l’importance de la mangrove. Ces jeunes élèves avaient bénéficié de trois interventions en classe et d’une autre sur le terrain, pendant laquelle ils ont pu planter de nouvelles pousses de palétuviers.
  • Après avoir été sensibilisée à la protection des tortues marines dans le cadre d’un projet inscrit au programme de son année scolaire, la classe de CE1 de l’école Happy School a réalisé un reportage passionnant, qui met en scène les menaces exercées par les activités humaines sur les tortues marines, de la ponte sur les plages de Saint-Martin à l’émergence des petits tortillons. Cette vidéo originale va être remise à sa demande au réseau tortues marines de Guadeloupe, où elle bénéficiera d’une large audience.
  • For several years, La Réserve Naturelle has visited two high schools on the island – Robert Weinum and Iles du Nord – and has noticed that the students are more and more interested in the environmental awareness sessions in their life sciences courses. The 2020-2021 sessions were dedicated to coral reefs, and the year before to the mangrove.
  • Since September 2020, a sixth-grade class at Soualiga Middle School has built its “Marine Educational Area” (AME) under the supervision of Yolande Besset-Visciano. The class received its AME label in June 2021, awarded to schools that engage in a process of participatory management of the marine environment by the French Office for Biodiversity. This class is composed of students who were introduced to this concept in elementary school and meet during their lunch hour to discuss environmental issues with Vincent Oliva, as well as with “their” AME at Friar’s Bay. Every class at Soualiga Middle School has an “eco-delegate” who coordinates the meetings, under the supervision of Chantal Impériale, CPE at the school. Note: Omer Arrondell School in French Quarter also hopes to receive their AME label.
Les élèves de moyenne et grande section de l’école maternelle Siméone Trott ont été sensibilisés au rôle régulateur joué par la mangrove - Kindergarteners from Siméone Trott nursery school learned about the important buffer role played by the mangrove
Les élèves de moyenne et grande section de l’école maternelle Siméone Trott ont été sensibilisés au rôle régulateur joué par la mangrove - Kindergarteners from Siméone Trott nursery school learned about the important buffer role played by the mangrove
Triage des post-larves sous la surveillance d’Aude Berger Sorting post-larvae under the watchful eye of Aude Berger
Triage des post-larves sous la surveillance d’Aude Berger Sorting post-larvae under the watchful eye of Aude Berger
- La sixième AME du collège Soualiga en visite dans les locaux de la réserve naturelle a bénéficié d’une plongée virtuelle sur les récifs coralliens de Saint-Martin. - The sixth grade AME class from Soualiga Middle School visited La Réserve Naturelle and took a virtual dive around the coral reefs of Saint Martin.
- La sixième AME du collège Soualiga en visite dans les locaux de la réserve naturelle a bénéficié d’une plongée virtuelle sur les récifs coralliens de Saint-Martin. - The sixth grade AME class from Soualiga Middle School visited La Réserve Naturelle and took a virtual dive around the coral reefs of Saint Martin.
- Plantation de pousses de palétuviers - Planting mangrove shoots
- Plantation de pousses de palétuviers - Planting mangrove shoots

Numerous classes were able to observe birds at the salt ponds thanks to binoculars paid for by Contour Global. These binoculars allow the students to discover various species that are hard to approach. These are the kinds of tools the pedagogical department uses during its awareness campaigns.

Two interns volunteer at La Réserve

Léa Lannuzel, a License 3 student at the University of Rennes, and Maëva Vignal, a BTS GPN student in an agricultural high school in Corsica, volunteered at La Réserve from April 1-29, 2021. Their goal was to explore the various jobs available in a natural reserve and how the various departments function. The two interns actively participated in all of the activities at La Réserve Naturelle.

Nine students trained by the Life Biodiv’Om program

Aude Berger, head of the Life Biodiv’Om program that promotes the conservation of the Nassau grouper and the giant grouper, met with a new class studying tourism at the Fore Center. The nine students, all adults, learned about the various missions of La Réserve Naturelle, about the island’s ecosystems, and about the Life program for the protection of groupers.

A virtual dive for the Fête de la Nature

For the 15th edition of the Fête de la Nature, La Réserve Naturelle organized an island discovery program in collaboration with EDF Archipel Guadeloupe. On Wednesday, March 19, ten participants were able to visit Salines d’Orient and the rich ecosystem found in this wetlands area. The morning of Saturday, March 22 was dedicated to a guided walk along the Sentier des Froussards, and the afternoon was time for a virtual dive into the underwater world of La Réserve at their Hope Estate center.

Long Term Goal N°6 : Management and support - MS

- Une partie de la donation de coquillages - A portion of the donated shells
- Une partie de la donation de coquillages - A portion of the donated shells

Action MS20 Seek new means of funding

An internship to optimize the finances of La Réserve

Camille Truc-Delprat, studying for a master’s in the “Economy of the Environment and Its Natural Resources” at the Toulouse School of Economics, is interning at La Réserve Naturelle from May 24 through September 24, 2021. Her goal is to research and propose innovative methods of funding based on the value of the indirect services rendered to the island of Saint Martin by the protected zones of La Réserve Naturelle.

Action MS32 Make the RNN a vector for the promotion of our natural heritage (priority 1)

Thousands of shells as a gift

On February 18, 2021, La Réserve was contacted by a private collector, Mr. Lamorlette, who wanted to donate thousands of seashells. Stored in a garage he had just started renting in Concordia, these shells had been collected or fished locally by the previous occupant of the garage, known by the nickname of Shell Man, and recently deceased. It took four trips with a pickup truck to transport this multitude of shells to the technical services center of La Réserve at Anse Marcel. Sorting is underway and the goal is to create a condensed collection by saving the most beautiful specimens, which would eventually be displayed at the ICBI, and used to illustrate pedagogical presentations. The shells not kept for the collection will be returned to the sea, with an eye toward creating a natural habitat for marine fauna (hermit crabs, alevins…).

- 3000 à 5000 chèvres en liberté à Saint-Barth - 3000 to 5000 wild goats in Saint Barth
- 3000 à 5000 chèvres en liberté à Saint-Barth - 3000 to 5000 wild goats in Saint Barth

MobBiodiv’Restoration of terrestrial zones: the winners

As part of the French Recovery Plan, the OFB sent out a call for projects titled “MobBiodiv’Restoration of Terrestrial Zones 2021.” The French Antilles selection committee, which includes Julien Chalifour, met via video conference on May 26, to examine and evaluate the four projects in competition for the French Antilles:

  • Ecological restoration of the former communal dump into a botanical garden with drought-resistant plants in Anse Bertrand (Guadeloupe).
  • Ecological restoration and reinforcement of the vegetation at Bois-Jolan/Helleux in Sainte-Anne in Guadeloupe, primarily to fight against erosion and encourage egg-laying by sea turtles.
  • Re-planting of urban and peri-urban spaces in the French Antilles to increase pollination by introducing endemic vegetation and their favorite pollinators to these areas (Guadeloupe and Martinique).
  • The capture of wild goats and the planting of local trees in Saint Barthélemy. Roughly 3000 to 5000 goats roam the hillsides of Saint Barth and destroy the vegetation, to the detriment of other species and coastal sea beds. The committee’s decision on these projects will be announced shortly and the winners will receive financial support to get their projects underway. MobBiodiv’Restoration of terrestrial zones: the winners

Récréafish: A study for all non-professional fishermen

On May 26, Julien Chalifour participated in a video conference organized by the IFREMER (French Research Institute For Ocean Science) in Martinique, in order to define the Réserve’s contribution to the Récréafish project, a study in recreational fishing in the waters of the French Antilles. This study concerns all non-professional fishermen and all fishing techniques: fishing from the shore, underwater, or aboard a boat. The goal is to collect reliable information on the size of the leisure fishing industry in the French Antilles, unknown at the present time, as well as its economic impact, a look at the fishermen and the primary species they catch. The role of La Réserve Naturelle, the local contact for this project, is to centralize the data transmitted by the participants in Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy, and to establish regular contact with them. The project was launched in Saint Barth where the fishermen received a logbook to record their fishing excursions and their catch for a year. However, the project was delayed for a few months in Saint Martin, where all fishing was forbidden following the death of a swimmer after a mortal attack by a shark in December 2020. At the end of the year of recording their fishing activities in their logbooks, they will be entered in a raffle to win gift certificates of 50 to 150 euros to spend in fishing gear shops

All those who go fishing can take part in the Récréafish project, by making a request with IFREMER at recreafish@ifremer.fr.
Le comité national Ifrecor s’est tenu à Saint-Martin en 2019 - The national Ifrecor committee met in Saint Martin in 2019
Le comité national Ifrecor s’est tenu à Saint-Martin en 2019 - The national Ifrecor committee met in Saint Martin in 2019

Ifrecor and La Réserve naturelle

Nicolas Maslach and Julien Chalifour were interviewed via video conference on May 26, 2021 by a consulting firm hired by the French government to do an audit on the functioning of Ifrecor (French Initiative For Coral Reefs), on a national as well as a local level. In Saint Martin, as there has not been a formal request made by the Collectivité, La Réserve Naturelle has been the official local — and efficient — representative of Ifrecor for many years, in collaboration with the DEAL. It represents an invaluable testing site for Ifrecor, by way of scientific studies of underwater milieus, performance indicators on the state of the health of reefs and underwater plant beds, the PAMPA dashboard, and not forgetting a thesis on local seagrass beds. Maslach and Chalifour accented the contribution of La Réserve to Ifrecor, as well as the importance of this initiative for La Réserve and for the entire island. Julien Chalifour is also a member of the local Ifrecor committee in Saint Barthélemy. This local participation accents the importance of supporting Ifrecor, as well as an evolution in the process of creating a local committee.

Long Term Goal N°7 : Creation and maintenance of a reception infrastructure and equipment CI

La barrière financée par l’EEASM - The fence financed by the EEASM
La barrière financée par l’EEASM - The fence financed by the EEASM

Respect the principle “avoid, reduce, compensate.”

The Water and Sanitation Bureau of Saint Martin (EEASM) having added pipes along the Etang des Salines d’Orient, in order to link Orient Bay to the French Quarter water treatment plant, also financed the replacement of the fence along the pond. La Réserve had to take down the old fence to facilitate the burying of the pipes. This work was done in the spirit of “avoid, reduce, compensate” that allowed La Réserve to place a new, 463-meter fence in order to avoid the passage of horses, quads, or any other vehicles.

Long Term Goal N°8 : Natural Heritage Intervention - IP

Gaspard Dubois
Gaspard Dubois

An internship to limit damage at Pinel

Gaspard Dubois, a second-year student at the Sorbonne with a double-major in geoscience and Chinese, was hosted by La Réserve Naturelle from May 24 to July 20, 2021. His goal was to create a bibliographical review for the island of Pinel and do an appraisal about the state of health of the biotope on this small island, which is subject to diverse pressure from humans, especially from the commercial installations located there. The student finished his internship with a second project: The drafting of a technical and scientific argument to solicit the integration of a second station to monitor the quality of the water along the maritime coasts of Saint Martin, as part of a study on Water Framework Directive (DCE) sponsored by the DEAL. This station would complement the current local network, with low exposure to anthropogenic influences.

Sansevieria
Sansevieria

Fight against exotic, invasive species

On May 31 – June 3, 2021, La Réserve Naturelle hosted a professional training session organized by the OFB on the subject of management of exotic, invasive species. This training, led by the French committee for the UICN and Julien Chalifour, was attended by 15 participants from all across the French Caribbean. The first three days were dedicated to theoretical questions. What is a biological invasion? What are the consequences? How to detect it? And how to manage it? The last day included practical sessions in the field. On the island of Pinel, the participants were able to actually contribute to the fight against two invasive vegetal species— sisal agave and sansevieria—which reproduce rapidly. The goal was to expose the participants to the logistical restraints of these kinds of actions in the field: preparation of tools; access by boat to a small island; progressing on foot to carry the equipment; organization of the work site to remove the invasive plants from a protected site in a natural reserve; work to prevent new propagation at the site, as well as at the site of elimination, such as the Grandes Cayes eco-site, where 180 kilos of invasive plant debris was composted. Pascal Alix-Laborde, territorial council member in charge of the environment, listened in on this training. In this way, an elected official could be made aware of the problems caused by biological invasions, and extra management costs if action if not taken in a timely manner.

Collaboration with the French committee of the UICN is not new, as La Réserve Naturelle—as well as the Territorial Environmental Agency in Saint Barthélemy—represents a focal point for all the problems related to the management of exotic invasive species in Saint Martin. This close collaboration will be continued at the IUCN World Conservation Congress to be held in Marseille on September 3 -11, 2021.
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