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The parks and conservation organisations of the Dutch Caribbean are working together to address a subject many consider to be critical to the long-term success of nature conservation on our islands.
In 2010, the education officers and park staff who are responsible for nature education came together in a workshop to engage in peer-to-peer learning, planning and material production. Their goal was to develop a standard, regional framework for youth nature education, which could be conducted as out of school activities.
In just two short years, this investment started to pay direct conservation dividends, when young people involved in our education programmes jumped headfirst into local conservation programmes…
On Bonaire, where STINAPA’s nature education programme has blazed the trail for the other islands, the Junior Rangers are fully engaged, working alongside conservation professionals to assist in monitoring of the threatened Queen Conch, controlling invasive lionfish as well as serving as ambassadors to teach younger children about their natural surroundings.
On St. Eustatius, in addition to a full Snorkel and Junior Ranger Club, high school students have joined STENAPA in the field to assist in critical nest monitoring of the threatened Red-billed Tropicbird.
On Saba, youth have taken matters into their own hands; some 50 children from Saba Conservation Foundation’s nature education programme energetically demonstrated the threat of plastics to our oceans by cleaning up and constructing a raft completely made from discarded plastic bottles.
These are just a few examples of the immediate and powerful impact awareness, education and involvement is having on nature conservation on our islands.
With the launch of Parke Nacional Arikok’s Junior Ranger Programme in 2012, we can now boast Junior Ranger Programmes on each of the six islands. Arikok’s programme is based on “Wild4Life”, the regional framework developed in consultation with education professionals and park staff from all six islands.
Wild4Life is a fun, cool, feel-good, dynamic and active programme of learning with opportunities for skills development, all connected to real nature conservation on our islands.
The education officers are working together at a regional level to develop exciting new resources with a special focus on birds thanks to our partner Vogelbescherming Nederland. Bird identification cards, guidebooks and classroom boxes can now be found on every island!
A Dutch Caribbean brand for nature education has been developed, materials and knowledge are being shared and implemented by dedicated and energetic staff. We are strategically planning together how to best educate and engage our youth with nature. The sky is truly the limit for nature education in the Dutch Caribbean.