Throughout 2008 the staff and board of Nature Foundation St. Maarten undertook a range of activities addressing both core management of the Marine Park as well as several projects.
One new staff member joined the Nature Foundation in 2008; Etienne Lake was employed as the new Marine Park Ranger. The majority of staff capacity (53%) was used on management, office and field administration. Information-Education-Outreach accounted for 28% of staff capacity and working with stakeholders accounted for 8% of staff capacity in 2008.
The most significant ongoing issue facing Nature Foundation is the lack of legislation to protect the marine environment. The Marine Environment Ordinance would not only give legal protection to the Marine Park it would also allow the Foundation to begin charging users of the marine park. Despite repeated promises the ordinance remains ungratified.
One significant improvement in 2008 was that the Nature Foundation was able to purchase much needed equipment and materials including engines, purchased in 2007 which have been mounted onto the re-furbished Marine Park Boat, a brand new work shop close to the boat launch, a new truck and dive equipment.
Two important documents were produced in 2008: 2007 Annual Report and St. Maarten Proposed Land Parks Management Plan. Office administration was carried out by all staff members to some extent – accounting for the time staff spend working with computers, filing and on other office tasks. 3 % of the total staff time spent working in the year was spent on formal patrols within the MPA, and 6 % was spent by staff on maintenance tasks, with mooring maintenance taking a significant amount of time. Monitoring of beaches for sea turtle nesting took place with the help of volunteers.
Nature Foundation St. Maarten continues to work with 16 different stakeholder and partner groups. This includes the manager being an active member of DCNA, working with other NGO’s on the island and involving school groups in environmental work.
The staff of Nature Foundation St. Maarten have been busy working on the new foundation website, press releases, radio programmes and television programmes about the activities of Nature Foundation. ‘The Foundation Update’ Newsletter was published 4 times in 2008.
The Manager of Nature Foundation St. Maarten, Beverly Mae Nisbeth attended both DCNA Board meetings in 2008. Staff members also travelled, taking part in staff exchanges with the other DCNA islands, as well as attending a WIDECAST meeting in St Kitts.