Protected Area Overview
|Size||2,300 ha. (5,700 ac.)|
Christoffel Park and Shete Boka Park, established in 1978 and 1994 respectively, are located in the northwestern corner of the island. Together they encompass 2,800 hectares (28 km2). Christoffel Park covers 2,300 hectares (23 km2) and includes Mount Christoffel, the highest point on the island at 375 metres (1,230 feet). The inland portion of the park is one of the largest unfragmented scrub habitats remaining on the island. Shete Boka Park adjoins the Christoffel Park and covers 470 hectares (4.7 km2) of the island’s rocky wave-exposed north coast. It contains coastal limestone terraces and inland hills supporting evergreen woodland, coastal lagoons with seagrass beds and mangroves, and dry deciduous shrubland on volcanic soils.
The hilly, inland landscape and coastal, calcareous terraces of both parks provide habitats for a diverse and unique array of flora and fauna, including a number of endemic species which are extremely rare or only found within park boundaries. This includes wild orchids, the rare native Barn owl (Tyto alba bargei), the endemic sub-species of the Brown-throated Parakeet (Aratinga pertinax pertinax) and the White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus curassavicus). There are only about 250 deers left on the whole island, the vast majority of which are found within the Christoffel Park. The small orchid Polystachya cerea (foliosa) can be found in a few unreachable areas around Mount Christoffel. Orchids and ferns flourish in the island’s better developed woodlands. Columnar cacti are keystone species for the island, providing food for birds and mammals in the harsh dry season. Bats are critical pollinators of these plants. Leaf cacti are characteristic of the more disturbed, drier and coastal areas of the island. Several plants can be found only on Mount Christoffel including the Aechmea sp. (formerly known as Ananas comosus), Hooker’s Anthurium, and Britton’s Centaury.
The pocket beaches of Shete Boka Park are important nesting sites for three species of sea turtle: Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) and Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata). The park also contains six small inlets that are protected turtle breeding areas. Christoffel Park and Shete Boka Park are also an important habitat for many species of birds. Both parks are visited annually by large flocks of neotropical migrants including warblers, swallows and many shore birds. They also protect important habitats for Least Terns (Sterna antillarum), Brown Boobies (Sula leucogaster), Caribbean Elaenias (Elaenia martinica), Bare-eyed Pigeons (Patagioenas corensis) and endemic Brown-throated Parakeets (Aratinga pertinax pertinax).
Both Christoffel Park and Shete Boka Park offer great hiking. The most popular hiking trail is the one that leads to the summit of Mount Christoffel. There are also a number of car routes and mountain biking facilities. Additionally, the parks organise special activities, including deer watching, animal presentations, cave excursions, guided park tours and occasional full moon walks. The Savonet Plantation adjacent to the Christoffel Park includes a recently restored museum that brings to life the island’s natural and cultural history. Made up of several former plantations, Christoffel Park features intact plantation infrastructure, as well as prehistoric Indian rock art and artefacts.
Park Management Organisation: CARMABI
The Caribbean Research and Management of Biodiversity Foundation (CARMABI) is a local non-governmental, not for profit foundation originally founded in 1955 as a marine biological research station. It merged with the National Parks Foundation of the Netherlands Antilles (STINAPA) in 1999 and is legally mandated by the Island Government to manage Curaçao’s terrestrial protected areas. Although it does not have a mandate to do so, it also oversees the management of the island’s marine protected area.
CARMABI’s mission is to work towards a sustainable society, in which the sustainable management of nature leads to benefits which future generations can also enjoy. All sectors in the community play a role in this process. The Foundation aims to fulfil this mission by achieving the following goals:
- Conduct or facilitate research to support effective nature management, nature conservation, nature restoration, and nature development;
- Acquire, conserve, protect, manage, restore and develop natural areas in the broadest sense, including objects or places of value to geology, history and/or archaeology;
- Create awareness within the community, especially school children, regarding the contribution they can make to achieve sustainable development on Curaçao.