Dear Island Council Members,
Dear Board of Directors,
Dear Kingdom Representative,
With this letter, we bring the immense importance of our wetlands to your attention. Our island can rejoice in the rich possession of many beautiful wetlands. They are indispensable for the ecosystems on our island and the well-being of the population. With global climate change increasingly and more severely affecting our daily lives, it becomes even clearer that we need to protect, manage and restore these areas. The Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention and the United Nations are therefore calling for action. Money, human resources, and political will are needed to prevent wetlands from disappearing and to restore degraded areas.
This applies to both wetlands that are protected by the Ramsar Convention because of their international importance and wetlands that are not (yet) protected. The first category includes the Washington Slagbaai National Park, Klein Bonaire, Pekelmeer, and Lac. Other water areas of great value are: Saliña Frans, Saliña Tam, Saliña di Vlijt, Dam Aruba, Washikemba, Lagun, Dam Onima, and the freshwater lake at the sewage treatment plant (WWTP).
In relation to climate change, sea-level rise, and erosion control, the entire southern coastal strip from Punt Vierkant to Bakuna is also of vital importance. Fortunately, there are non-governmental organizations that are restoring and expanding the mangrove forests. In this way CO2 is captured, a barrier is formed against the seawater and the coral reef is protected against erosion.
Naturally, local and national governments have an important role to play in protecting, managing, and restoring our wetlands. This is apparent from, among other things, the fact that a number of our wetlands have had the status of Ramsar area since 1980. Just last year, the individual Ramsar areas of Slagbaai and Gotomeer, together with all surrounding land, were merged into one large Ramsar area ‘Washington-Slagbaai’ containing six saliñas.
The annual World Wetlands Day on February 2, recognized by the United Nations, underlines the importance of wetlands for life on our blue planet. Such living natural monuments must be well managed and maintained. The signatories of this letter call on our local administrators to handle the wetlands on our island with care. In addition to a protected status, this also means paying attention to management and creating the necessary preconditions for this. At a time when the increasing population growth, recreation, and tourism are placing increasing pressure on these areas and climate change is making itself felt, sustainable management is indispensable.
In that light, the undersigned hope that you as administrators will soon adopt the Bonaire Nature Plan and the Bonaire Environmental Program containing the implementation plans for the sustainable management of our wetlands.
All the undersigned involved in this action