photo: Pixabay

DEN HAAG – Almost a year after hurricane Irma ravaged the Caribbean municipality of Statia, the island is receiving 800.000 euros from the Hague to restore the damaged environment. More plants are to be planted, while free-roaming goats continue to devour the island.

Hurricane Irma, and Maria caused major damage to the environment around the island.  A lot of big, and historic trees were uprooted, possibly leading to higher temperatures and further erosion. These are the fears of the National Parks Foundation, STENAPA. Additionally these issues are being exacerbated by large herds of goats, and cattle that roam freely around the island, and leave in their wake a barren landscape.

A large portion of the funds that the organization will be receiving, has been allocated towards the reforestation effort. Local trees are to be grown in greenhouses, and replanted in the historic center of town and the surrounding neighborhoods. This time around the trees will be fenced off to protect them from the livestock, according to STENAPA.

Funds to tackle the issue of the free-roaming livestock have not been allocated in this round of subsidies. “The reforestation-project is only one part of the solution to restore the environment, the other issue that has to be dealt with is the free-roaming livestock”, according to the director of STENAPA, Clarisse Buma.

The problem just keeps on growing
A notable detail is that for the past few years, Statia has been receiving money to take care of the free-roaming livestock issue. The goats who graze on the cliffs are causing erosion, which can lead to life-threatening situations for inhabitants, and tourists alike. The STENAPA building recently got struck by a boulder which came loose. A bit further down the cliffs, one can find restaurants, hotels, and parking spots.

Erosion is also threatening the historic fort, which is the property of the Dutch State. “Electric fencing was put up around the fort to deter the goats but they can still be found on the cliffs”, says Buma. “People say that the fence is not electrified.”

Dealing with the goats

Central government commissioner Mike Franco, who has been tasked by the Dutch government to ensure the continuity and stability of public services, acknowledges that ‘for a long time, nothing has happened’ and that there are still goats roaming around the island.

According to a spokesperson for Franco they are “working towards a situation where, one by one, every single animal is tagged. The animals have to be kept by their owners within the confines of their properties, and when that doesn’t happen the owners will be fined.”

330.000 euros have been allocated towards the reforestation effort, according to the decree obtained from Minister of State Raymond Knops (Kingdom Affairs). He wants to see results by the end of 2019.

Division of the 800.000 euros allocated for the environment
  • 331.485 euros for reforestation
  • 129.900 euros for the water supply to agrarian companies
  • 118.220 euros for the improvement of the agriculture, livestock, and fishery industries
  • 90.855 euros for the restoration of corals
  • 37.450 euros to repair the moorings and buoys in the marine park
  • 35.670 euros for the repair of the botanical gardens
  • 25.800 euros for the restoration of the sea turtle breeding program
  • 25.800 euros for the repair of the wall behind the STENAPA building
  • 4.820 euros for the preservation of the endangered iguana species