SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Dutch Caribbean tropical islands are home to the most diverse and extraordinary ecosystems within the Kingdom of the Netherlands: from pristine coral reefs to rare elfin cloud forest; the spectacular natural world of these islands includes species found nowhere else on the planet.
During today’s World Environmental Day with the theme “celebrate biodiversity”, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) reaches out to the public to kindly ask them for their help in reporting the extraordinary biodiversity around them. Citizens can help the nature conservation organizations and policy makers by reporting marine and terrestrial animal and plant species on dutchcaribbean.observation.org.
Dutch Caribbean: a Biodiversity hotspot
The biodiversity of the Dutch Caribbean islands is very rich with over 8.000 species recorded. More than 60 globally endangered or vulnerable species thrive in the Dutch Caribbean, including sea turtles, parrots, sharks and whales.
Scientists travel regularly to our islands and have recently discovered seven new marine species around Bonaire. On Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and the Saba Bank there are at least 35 animal and plant species that exist nowhere else in the world, so-called endemic species.
Additionally, 188 species only occur on those and the neighboring islands. There are only two endemic species recorded in the European Netherlands, which means that the biodiversity of the islands is very rich.
Nature and its importance
Ecosystems that are rich in biodiversity are a magnet for tourists and at the same time one of the most important sources of income for the local communities. Nature on the Dutch Caribbean islands is unique and important, but it is also fragile and under several local, regional, and global threats such as pollution and climate change.
Knowledge about these complex ecosystems is essential if the natural resources of the islands are to be managed wisely and sustainably so that future generations can also enjoy them. Not only researchers, but also citizens and tourists can help with gathering information.
Citizens Can Help Report Animal and Plant Species
Dutchcaribbean.Observation.org is a free online website to register all species sightings. Anyone can register and enter species observations and this platform is available in more than 40 languages. The platform is now also being translated into Papiaments.
Observation.org also offers free Apps for iPhone (iObs) & Android (ObsMapp). The species reports by local communities are very valuable for the nature conservation organizations and policy makers to learn and protect the species on our islands.
Observation.org is working together with Naturalis Biodiversity Center on automated species identification software. Your uploaded photos are of great value to make this possible.
Start helping today to gather a big biodiversity dataset for the Dutch Caribbean.
To get started:
- register with your full name on: https://observation.org/registreer.php
- watch these videos on how to enter sightings https://youtu.be/H6aUiBlGyCgand
- download the app via the App Store / Google Play. Once installed download the species lists for the country ‘Dutch Caribbean’
- use your personal account to login online and in the app
- Start recording your sightings!