Ensuring environmental communication, awareness, and education

Ensuring environmental communication, awareness, and education

Ensuring environmental communication, awareness, and education

Visite pédagogique avec la réserve naturelle à Pinel | Academic field trip to Pinel with the Réserve NaturelleAcademic field trip to Pinel with the Réserve Naturelle
Visite pédagogique avec la réserve naturelle à Pinel | Academic field trip to Pinel with the Réserve NaturelleAcademic field trip to Pinel with the Réserve Naturelle

The Réserve Met 300 Kids At Pinel

On October 27, 28, and 29, 2021, the Réserve played its role in promoting environmental awareness by stepping up to the plate for the Nautical Club of Saint Martin. This association organized three days for the “discovery of fresh-air activities,” which took place on the small island of Pinel, for kids aged seven to 14, from disadvantaged families. Part of the national strategy for the fight against poverty, this event allowed 300 kids from Sandy Ground, Concordia, and French Quarter to explore Pinel and try out various sports and activities. The Réserve Naturelle organized pedagogical visits for small groups of 10 students, non-stop, to teach them about marine and terrestrial eco-systems, which are particularly fragile on this little wedge of land surrounded by water.

Details of the pedagogical activities

 

Une tortue marine au centre de l’intérêt de ces jeunes élèves A sea turtle of interest to these young students
Une tortue marine au centre de l’intérêt de ces jeunes élèves A sea turtle of interest to these young students

For the 2021-2022 school year, the pedagogical service of the Réserve Naturelle has selected subjects in keeping with the scientific service for its in-school activities, for which the two services regularly collaborate. The main subject is that of exotic invasive species, both vegetal and animal, and their impact on biodiversity and ecosystems, and in a larger sense the evolution of life on the planet. Information about these exotic invasive species that have been introduced to Saint Martin includes: where they came from, who introduced them to the island, and their history since the Amerindians. Other subjects range from marine mammals and sea turtles to sharks and ecosystems. The visits are adapted to the level of each class, from kindergarten through high school. Each class has four or five visits from the Réserve Naturelle and the students are asked to create and present a related project at the end of the school year.

Plongée virtuelle à l’école A virtual dive at school
Plongée virtuelle à l’école A virtual dive at school

On November 16, 2021, the Réserve Naturelle had a stand at the Fête de la Science (Science Fair), at the Clair Saint-Maximin elementary school in French Quarter, where two classes have run an educative marine zone since 2018. The anatomical sculptures of marine animals captured the attention of these students, but it was the virtual reality headsets for underwater diving that really hit it out of the park. Planned for the morning, the event lasted throughout the day, so that the students—as well as their teachers–could experience this voyage under the sea, virtual, but oh so real.

Raphaël Dorville
Raphaël Dorville

Raphaël Dorville, a ninth grader at the French Quarter high school who had been a student in the first class for the educative marine zones in 2016—a CM1 class at the Clair Saint-Maximin school— spontaneously asked to do a discovery internship at the Réserve Naturelle, January 24-28, 2022. A demand that was very well received by the Réserve as well as by Jessica Sabas, her former teacher. The internship helps students discover the working world, share the daily tasks done by professionals, and benefit from a tangible experience.

As part of the eleventh call for the funding of initiatives to promote biodiversity in Overseas France, launched in April 2021 by the OFB (French Biodiversity Office) and its partner Te Me Um, two projects presented by the Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin were selected.

  • The first, in the “micro-projects” category, will allow students from four fifth grade classes and a sixth grade class to be taught about the management of exotic invasive species. The program comprises five visits by the Réserve in each class, before going on a field trip to observe the exotic and invasive vegetal and animal species, such as the coral vine, the common iguana, the rat, and the giant African snail. The budget of 4,276 euros will be used to purchase cameras, tablets, and GPS devices.
  • The second project, under the “partner” banner, is based on the reappropriation of the natural heritage of Saint Martin by its younger generations, and particularly the two educational marine zone classes at the Clair Saint-Maximin school. These students will learn how to make a diagnosis of the beaches in their marine zone and determine if it is favorable— or not—for egg laying by sea turtles. The grant of 20,000 euros allows for the financing of various tools: workbooks, anatomical sculptures of marine animals, VR masks, videos and virtual dives, t-shirts, and caps.

200 New Workbooks

The workbooks created by the Réserve Naturelle in 2020 were a big hit with young students, and 200 additional copies will be reprinted thanks to 500 euros donated by Skyepharma. The 20 pages in these notebooks outline the elements of the Réserve Naturelle and are intended for fourth and fifth grade classes, in order to educate the kids about the environment and give them an awareness of the management and conservation of the biodiversity of Saint Martin.

Les participants à Sandy Ground The participants at Sandy Ground
Les participants à Sandy Ground The participants at Sandy Ground

Neighborhood Environmental Awareness

At the request of Compagnons Bâtisseurs, the Réserve’s environmental education and awareness service organized two sessions aimed at building awareness amongst the population of Saint Martin, explaining the role and the importance of the Réserve Naturelle and the protection of the island’s ecosystems. Running for two hours, the first session took place in Sandy Ground and the subject matter detailed the ecosystems of Saint Martin and sea turtles. The second such event was for the residents of French Quarter, who also learned about the ecosystems as well as about the important role that the mangroves play in the delicate balance of the marine milieu and the protection of the island. This session was followed by a field trip to Galion, during which Vincent Oliva provided more complete explanations on the subjects that had been discussed. In both neighborhoods, ten of the participants were also able to explore the underwater world of the Réserve Naturelle, by using virtual reality masks.

Who are the Compagnons Bâtisseurs?
For the past 60 years, the Compagnons Bâtisseurs have helped those the most in need with the renovation or construction of their home. Their association, financed by public-private partnerships, set up shop in Saint Martin the day after hurricane Irma hit. To date, close to 200 families in Saint Martin have benefitted from their services, and now enjoy better living conditions more adapted to their needs.
Saint-Martin le paradis retrouvé des tortues - France 3
Saint-Martin le paradis retrouvé des tortues - France 3

The Réserve Teaches La Samanna Clients About Our Natural Heritage

At the request of the luxury hotel, La Samanna, the Réserve Naturelle will go on excursions with clients who want to learn more about the natural heritage of the island. The first excursion took place on December 21, 2021, with a boat tour around the small island of Tintamarre. Julien Chalifour and Vincent Oliva taught the visitors about various activities for the protection of the local biodiversity, especially sea turtles, birds, and sea plant beds in Baie Blanche.

Action CC8 Communicate about the missions and activities of the RNN in the media (Priority 1)

France 3 TV Focuses On The Réserve Naturelle

On November 2, 2021, the 19/20 program on France 3 consecrated 3.42 minutes to the Réserve Naturelle of Saint-Martin, in a reportage titled “Saint-Martin, Paradise Found For Sea Turtles.” After showing pretty images of turtles grazing on sea plants, the primary missions of the Réserve were covered, including shots of Franck Roncuzzi on Galion beach, where he was instructing a class about the importance of our natural heritage. Ashley Daniel and Christophe Joe, at work in the nursery, explained the role of the mangrove, where they have already replanted 5,000 small saplings. Then, Aude Berger explained in detail the scientific monitoring of sea turtles. A look at the Réserve’s regulations closed the segment, from the ban on fishing to the obligation of boats to use moorings and the payment of fees for professionals duly registered with the Réserve Naturelle: measures intended to revitalize the synergy between conservation of our biodiversity and use of the protected natural sites.

Sculpture anatomique d’un dauphin… Anatomical sculpture of a dolphin…
Sculpture anatomique d’un dauphin… Anatomical sculpture of a dolphin…

New pedagogical tools

Contour Global, the company that runs one of the two Galisbay electric plants, met with the Réserve Naturelle on the subject of pedagogical tools to promote environmental protection, for which they are providing financing of 14,000€. An agreement was signed with the Réserve, which will make these activity notebooks and binoculars available to students to help raise their environmental awareness. At the same time, anatomical sculptures of a dolphin, a turtle, and a tropicbird are being completed. They will allow the students to discover the essential internal organs of these three animals, as can be seen in the photos below. The goal is to invite the students to visit the offices of the Réserve Naturelle at Hope Estate, which will be transformed into an academic arena to welcome them. They will also enjoy a simulated dive to a protected coral reef in Saint Martin, thanks to three pairs of virtual reality glasses.

Sensibilisation sur le terrain avec Vincent Oliva Awareness in the field with Vincent Oliva Oliva
Sensibilisation sur le terrain avec Vincent Oliva Awareness in the field with Vincent Oliva Oliva

Reinforcing environmental education

In 2019, 26 classes were regularly taken on field trips to help raise their environmental awareness, a subject also taught in the schools. With this in mind, seven agreements were signed, with the French Quarter and Soualiga middle schools, the Robert Weinum high school, the professional high school, Happy School, Marie-Antoinette Richards school, Clair Saint-Maximim school, where two classes received the label “Educational Marine Area,” as assigned by the French Office for Biodiversity. A sixth grade class at the Soualiga middle school also benefits from this label. The idea for these students, with the advice of the Réserve, is to define priorities for the protection of the biodiversity at the site for which they are responsible and to apply a scholastic approach to real-world examples, for example the replanting of the mangroves. In addition, new agreements are in the works with the Émile Choisy, Siméone Trott, Élie Gibbs, and Lamartine schools. At the same time, the Réserve meets regularly with the students studying for their BAPAAT (Brevet d’aptitude professionnelle d’assistant animateur technicien). From January 7 through March 16, 2020, the date when the schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Réserve Naturelle led 74 academic interventions, including 12 in the field terrain, and visits to 10 schools for 37 classes, for a total students 740 students.In 2019, 26 classes were regularly taken on field trips to help raise their environmental awareness, a subject also taught in the schools. With this in mind, seven agreements were signed, with the French Quarter and Soualiga middle schools, the Robert Weinum high school, the professional high school, Happy School, Marie-Antoinette Richards school, Clair Saint-Maximim school, where two classes received the label “Educational Marine Area,” as assigned by the French Office for Biodiversity. A sixth grade class at the Soualiga middle school also benefits from this label. The idea for these students, with the advice of the Réserve, is to define priorities for the protection of the biodiversity at the site for which they are responsible and to apply a scholastic approach to real-world examples, for example the replanting of the mangroves. In addition, new agreements are in the works with the Émile Choisy, Siméone Trott, Élie Gibbs, and Lamartine schools. At the same time, the Réserve meets regularly with the students studying for their BAPAAT (Brevet d’aptitude professionnelle d’assistant animateur technicien). From January 7 through March 16, 2020, the date when the schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Réserve Naturelle led 74 academic interventions, including 12 in the field terrain, and visits to 10 schools for 37 classes, for a total students 740 students.

The Réserve selected nine themes for these presentations:

  • Presentation of the Réserve, its role, and the jobs needed on a daily basis
  • Various eco-systems
  • Mangroves
  • Flora and fauna
  • Sea turtles
  • Protection of groupers
  • The mangrove nursery
  • Planting of mangrove seedlings
  • La pollution et ses conséquences
Five classes are actively participating in the regeneration of the mangroves destroyed by hurricane Irma, by planting seedlings from the mangrove nursery set up by the Réserve, very close to the Etang des Salines d’Orient. This actual application in the field of theoretic information they receive in class includes follow- up so that the students can monitor the growth of their seedlings.

Plantation d’un palétuvier par un jeune écolier - A young student planting of a mangrove

Sea Discovery Day
Sea Discovery Day

The Réserve at Sea Discovery Day…

As it is every year, the Réserve Naturelle took part in Sea Discovery Day, organized by Métimer, the association of nautical professionals, on November 27, 2019. A total of 230 kids among the most disadvantaged on the island, were able to discover the joys of navigation aboard boats provided by sponsors of the association. After landing on the small island of Tintamare, these kids were able to enjoy swimming and aquatic games, as well as a long walk with the team from the Réserve, to teach them about the fragility of the ecosystems.

… And at the Heineken Regatta

Once again this year, the Réserve Naturelle worked with the organizers of the Heineken Regatta to help build awareness about the protection of marine mammals during this event that is held the first weekend in March. The Réserve intervened the day before the start of the regatta to share the same message at the race briefing. In connection with the Agoa sanctuary, before each race, the Réserve Naturelle made sure that no marine mammal would cross the path of one of the large sailboats taking part in this renowned regatta.

Plongée virtuelle

Virtual diving in the Réserve Naturelle

Accompanied by the NGO, Blue Finance, the Réserve Naturelle has launched a virtual reality project designed to allow the public to discover the underwater milieu that is protected. Equipped with virtual-reality helmets, participants find themselves submerged and surrounded by coral, sea grass beds, and can discover underwater flora and fauna as if they were actually diving. The event is itinerant and was hosted in its initial phase by the Hommage Hotel at Nettle Bay, then at SXM Music Festival, before being put on hold in early March with the confinement of the population. The goal of Blue Finance is to put its expertise and its experience to work in the financing of sustainable management for protected marine areas (MPA). It hopes to improve the management of at least 20 MPA’s by 2030, as well-managed, well-financed MPA’s are considered one of the most effective tools to reduce local threats to marine diversity.

Sensibilisation sur le terrain
Sensibilisation sur le terrain

Environmental awareness activities and education are among the priorities of the management plan for the Réserve Naturelle, which has been intensifying its pedagogical involvement in island schools since they recruited Vincent Oliva, the pedagogical program director for the Réserve in charge of environmental education. Cretaed by the Réserve, the pedagogical program «Let’s Project Nature Together” fits perfectly within the objectives of the educational efforts for sustainable development as defined by the Minister of Education, and instituted at schools in the Northern Islands. Vincent Oliva and Aude Berger met with Stéphanie Brouwers, education delegate for sustainable development for the school board, to let her know they are willing to visit the schools, especially Aude Berger on the subject of the LIFE project for the preservation of the Nassau grouper and the giant grouper. The school board has approved the project «Let’s Protect Nature Together,” as presented to school directors on October 15, in the presence of the Réserve Naturelle, which presented its own ideas for the project. Teachers have a choice as to which themes they want to develop in their classrooms, from biodiversity, to fauna, flora, marine ecosystems, natural heritage, and the preservation of the two grouper species. Field interventions are planned, on land and at sea. Concrete activities, for example related with the mangrove nursery, will be implemented. Agreements have already been signed with the Ecole Clair Saint-Maximin (with a CM1 and CM2 class who run their own educative marine site at Galion), the French Quarter middle school, Soualiga middle school, Robert Weinum high school, and the Northern Islands professional high school. Two private schools, Lamartine and Happy School, have also signed agreements, and additional signatures are expected. “Our goal is to intervene in every school on the island,” says Vincent. Teachers.

For additional information, please contact Vincent Oliva via email: reservenat.vincent@yahoo.com

Les scouts ont également participé à la mise en place des tables © Christophe Joe The scouts also participated in the installation of the tables © Christophe Joe
Les scouts ont également participé à la mise en place des tables © Christophe Joe The scouts also participated in the installation of the tables © Christophe Joe

In July and August, the rangers of the Réserve Naturelle, with the help of three scouts, completed the post-Irma cleanup of the islets of Tintamare, Caye Verte, and Pinel, the Froussards path, and the salt ponds. These scouts, from the Saint-Georges du Mans parish, were in Saint Martin on July 8-26, as part of a companion scouts program on a humanitarian trip from metropolitan France. Aged 18 to 19 years old, Louis Bourdin, Camille de Labbey, and Simon Avon filled 126 large garbage bags with trash and participated in the removal of heavy debris. On July 25, they had 14 young helpers who were in a trash management training program.

10 picnic tables for Tintamare and Pinel La Réserve Naturelle continues its restoring or replacing of equipment damaged by hurricane Irma. On Tintamare, 8 tables are now available for picnics, with an additional two at Pinel, for a total of 10.
Découverte de Pinel - Exploring Pinel
Découverte de Pinel - Exploring Pinel

A group of 20 kids from Milton Peters College, a middle school on the Dutch side, accompanied by their guests from The Netherlands, were able to explore the terrestrial and marine flora and fauna on the small island of Pinel, with the help of the Réserve Naturelle. On foot, or outfitted with a mask, snorkel, and fins, they were made aware of the problems caused by Sargasso seaweed, the decline of the water quality along the coastline, and invasive species, as well as free services provided by nature for the benefit of mankind such as the production of fish, protection against the elements, and water purification. These activities seem even more important to the students in the context of climate change that directly impacts our islands.

Bienvenue à Pinel - Welcome to Pinel

EDF a participé à la Fête de la Nature - EDF participated in the Fête de la Nature
EDF a participé à la Fête de la Nature - EDF participated in the Fête de la Nature

When the staff of the electric company, EDF Archipel Guadeloupe asked, the Réserve Naturelle organized an excursion in the Galion mangrove. This event, which took place on May 25 as part of the Fête de la Nature 2019, served to promote awareness of the diversity of the flora and fauna that exists in this often under-estimated milieu. This marshy coastal forest helps stabilize the land closest to the sea, purify runoff water, produce a large number of fish, crustaceans, and birds, and it represents the last rampart against bad weather conditions and the swell. The participants at the event were able to observe fish, crabs, and wading birds, as well as contribute to the task of collecting trash that is sadly left along the borders of this protected natural site. Hoping that the participants will now be ambassadors, and carry the message of awareness for a better understanding of the mangrove, an important asset that is part of the island’s natural heritage. The Réserve Naturelle is also pleased with the increased popularity of bird watching and the growing number of visitors attracted by the rich diversity of birdlife in Saint Martin.

Nicolas Maslach filmé par l’équipe de Thalassa Nicolas Maslach filmed by the Thalassa team
Nicolas Maslach filmé par l’équipe de Thalassa Nicolas Maslach filmed by the Thalassa team

Shown on France 3 TV on March 20,2019 and presented by Fanny Agostini, Thalassa’s “Facing The Anger Of The Sea” dedicated a large part of its program to Irma “an unprecedented monster,” and its consequences in Saint Martin. For example, the mangrove, 90% destroyed at Galion, played its capital role in the protection of the coast and the population. And diving at Tintamare reveals that the underwater milieu there suffered less than the terrestrial landscapes, and that life continues quietly there, in spite of Irma. The reporting concluded with the observation that it is vital for humankind to adapt to nature, rather than try to adapt nature to man’s needs, especially in terms of urban development. A challenge not only for Saint Martin, but for the entire world.

Léa Bernier, age 14, a 9th grade student at Collège Descartes, intends to pursue a career in environmental affairs. She made a first step in this direction on February 25-March 1, at the Réserve Naturelle, where she completed the sequence of observation in a professional milieu that is obligatory for all 9th graders. She primarily participated in the scientific study of the birds in the salt ponds and was taught how to count the different species.

A demarcation buoy from the Réserve Marine in Saint Barthélemy had been stationed offshore from the beach in Grandes Cayes since hurricane Irma. It had broken its chain and floated toward Saint Martin during the storm, but has now been transported to the eco-site by the Réserve Naturelle, whose agents had taken off the top of the buoy, which will be used as an artificial reef after it is cleaned.

A crew from Ushuaia TV visited Saint Martin in late January to shoot a segment on the consequences of hurricane Irma, which the producers referred to as “an unprecedented experience: climatic change”. Titled “Under The Chaos, The Beach,” the program was broadcast on Saturday June 23 and Thursday, June 28, and will remain accessible on the Ushuaia TV website. The Réserve Naturelle was called upon for the environmental section of the program. Julien Chalifour, Chris Joe, Ashley Daniel and Vincent Oliva took the video crew to Pinel, Tintamare, and Rocher Créole, aboard the boat belonging to the Réserve. They also took them under the waves, for an underwater shoot at the Remorqueur site on Tintamare.

Beautiful article by Alexis Valois and Alexis Rosenfeld in the July edition, number 449, of the magazine Ça m’intéresse. In Saint Martin after Irma, the couple went diving with the team of the Réserve Naturelle and has assessed the adaptability capacity of corals for their survival, faced with numerous external threats.

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