Ensuring environmental communication, awareness, and education

Ensuring environmental communication, awareness, and education

Ensuring environmental communication, awareness, and education

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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