Nature Foundation concerned about new Chinese project’s enviro impact

COLE BAY–Nature Foundation has expressed “serious concerns” about the impact the Pearl of China project “may have on the environmental integrity of in particular the Little Bay Pond and the surrounding coastline.” The Foundation has dispatched a letter to the Council of Ministers with its concerns.

The Foundation urges Government to consider the environmental impacts such a development will have on one of the last remaining wetland and mangrove areas on St. Maarten and requests that an Environmental Impact Assessment be conducted by an independent party to determine what the environmental effects will be.

The Foundation urges all stakeholders to call for the protection and sustainable development of the Little Bay Pond as a conservation area, important wetland and an untapped resource in terms of eco-tourism and bird watching potential.

The project, slated for the Belair beachfront, will comprise of a 326-room hotel with showroom and 450 executive apartments targeting Chinese companies that want to do business in the country and further afield in the Caribbean. The project was announced by Finance Minister Richard Gibson last week at a town hall session at University of St. Maarten.

“We were surprised, as the appointed ecosystem authority for the island, to learn that a development of such magnitude may take place very near one of our most important wetland and coastal areas, namely the Little Bay Pond,” said Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager.

The Little Bay Pond area is internationally recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA). The IBA designation for the Little Bay Pond is AN001 and it is listed as an important migratory bird area as well as home and breeding area for local bird populations, including for the St. Maarten National Bird the brown pelican and numerous other wetland and terrestrial species including the Antillean crested hummingbird, lesser Antillean bullfinch and pearly eyed thrasher.

“Environmental and conservation organizations on St. Maarten have been doing numerous conservation activities at Little Bay Pond, including mangrove reforestation, educational tours and school visits, water quality management and bird counts for a number of years and the area is critical for both conservation management and nature conservation on the island,” said Bervoets.

Little Bay Pond also acts as a catchment basin for runoff in heavy rainfall and prevents Belair and Cay Hill from experiencing significant residential flooding.

St. Maarten has also seen an increase in the number of birding visitors, or visitors coming to St. Maarten to specifically look for and photograph rare bird species, said Bervoets. Birding is a multi-million dollar worldwide industry.

Source: Daily Herald
Nature Foundation concerned about new Chinese project’s enviro impact