Ramsar.org issued a press release on February 15, 2013 announcing that the Dutch government has appointed 4 new ‘Wetlands of International Importance’, for a total of 10 Ramsar sites in the ABC islands — 53 Dutch territories in total — ranking the country 5th in terms of sites, behind the UK, Mexico, Spain and Australia.
Our Carmabi (Caribbean Research and Management of Biodiversity) facilitated the necessary materials for the nomination of these 4 sites. Below is an overview of the 4 newly appointed Ramsar sites… Go get yourself lost on a hike or 4… Just don’t forget your camera!
Malpais / Sint Michiel. 1,100 hectares, 12 ° 10’N 069 ° 00’W. An important area for birds. Malpais is a former plantation just north of Sint Michiel. There are two freshwater lakes and a hypersaline lagoon (Lagoon St. Michiel, connected to a bay where there are coral reefs) that are surrounded by deciduous vegetation and a well developed forest habitat. This area provides shelter for many birds, such as the Caribbean Coot (Fulica caribaea) contained in the IUCN Red List. The lagoon also supports an important part of the world population of common tern (Sterna hirundo) and is part of a regional network of feeding sites for the Caribbean flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), a species protected by the Convention on Migratory Species.
Muizenberg. 65 ha, 12 ° 09’29 “N 068 ° 55’07” W. An important area for birds. Natural Park Muizenberg has a shallow intermittent lake created by the construction of a dam on a creek that drains the surrounding low hills.Grasslands and shrubs surrounding the wetland are periodically flooded. There is a small pond separately (Kaya Fortuna) which is 200 m to the west. This area not only has international importance for its population of Caribbean Coot and Caribbean flamingo, a species protected by the Convention on Migratory Species, but also support many other water birds, resident and migratory.
Northwest Curaçao. 2,441 ha, 12 ° 21’11 “N 069 ° 05’00” W. An important area for birds, coral reefs and turtles. The area has a great diversity of ecosystems including coral reefs, coastal lagoons with seagrass beds and mangroves, coastal terraces of limestone hills that support inner evergreen woodland, freshwater reservoirs, natural springs and dry deciduous scrub . The Ramsar site includes parts of the Natural Parks of Shete Boka and Christoffel. The wetland covers an area of approximately 20 km from the northern coast of Curacao rocky exposed to waves, which are 10 pocket beaches (bokas) and 3 interior bays that are used as nesting and feeding areas for marine turtles threatened, as Dermochelys coriacea and Eretmochely imbricata. There is also a nesting colony of more than 500 species of tern.
Moreover, the northeastern coast of Curacao provides shelter locally to a peripheral coral reef, which is characterized by the existence of coral cover over 50% and the presence of coral species critically endangered, as Acropora palmata and Acropora cervicornis, and endangered fish species such as Epinephelus itajara. Some of the caves in this area were used in the past to celebrate spiritual rituals, and it is estimated that the pictures painted by the Indians who have been found to date are over 5,000 years old. The many existing artificial dams in the area retain freshwater for several months after the rainy season has passed. Groundwater reservoirs, meanwhile, support throughout the year some local vegetation types using various species of birds, bats and mammals pollinators to survive during the dry season of Curacao.
Rif Sint Marie. 667 ha, 12 ° 12’16 “N 069 ° 03’16” W. Conservation area, area of importance for birds, coral reef, turtles, fish. The Rif area-Sint Marie is relatively unchanged and undeveloped, and consists of a salt marsh and mudflats surrounded by shrubs and forest. The marsh is a strategic feeding habitat for flamingos and various waterfowl. The coral reef of Rif-Sint Marie is well developed and offers refuge to several endangered species of coral, as Acropora palmata and Acropora cervicornis and endangered species of turtles, as Dermochelys coriacea and Eretmochely, and endangered fish species, as the jewfish (Epinephelus itajara)