At the end of October 2012 the Bonaire National Marine Park’, the ‘National Park The Quill/Boven op St. Eustatius’ and the ‘National Park Sababank’ were recognized as areas of special interest for the Caribbean region. This happened during a meeting in the Dominican Republic for the sixteen countries which are associated to the Caribbean decree for protection of special areas and spies, the SPAW Protocol.
To receive this recognition the nature parks have to comply with a number of strict criteria in the interest of the area for the region and the quality of the protection for the area.
In total eighteen nature parks received this recognition from the SPAW Conference of Parties, six in the French territories, four in the United States, the three mentioned areas in the Dutch islands, two in Belize, two in Colombia and one in Cuba.
The nature parks recognized by the SPAW Protocol form a basis for a collaboration program which will be developed in the coming years as a support for the parks, with emphasis on the mutual relations – the connectivity – between the areas from biological, cultural, as well as the human perspective.
Nature parks can be nominated by the countries for recognition by the SPAW Protocol, as long as they comply with the ecological criteria like ecological representativeness, variety, housing of endangered or scarce species or ecosystems, or the presence of critical habitats for special species. But they also have to comply with cultural and social economical criteria and should be for example of important cultural and traditional value, or have economical or sociological advantages for tourism or for survival of the user groups like artisanal fisherman and traditional societies. Furthermore, the areas should be established and protected by law and they should be well managed, based on a demonstrably effective management plan with clear goals, which is evaluated on a regular basis.
During the SPAW meeting, in addition to protected areas, there also was broad attention for the protection of endangered animals species and plant species. The SPAW Protocol has attachments containing endangered species which should be protected completely or, when the threat is less acute, durable management. A workgroup from the SPAW Protocol, wherein The Netherlands also has seating, is busy evaluating whether this list, which was created in 1992, should be adapted or expanded. Approximately a hundred species have been identified which should be evaluated more closely for possible incorporation in the attachments.
Source Presee release RCN, November 9, 2012