The Daily Herald writes that the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) presented its achievements in 2013 and its goals for 2014 during its annual public meeting held Friday at Eugenius Johnson Center in Windwardside. The meeting was attended by some fifty persons. Managing Director Kai Wulf outlined the need to update SCF’s strategic plan in line with actual developments.
This triggered questions from the public on why a financial report and a planned budget were not presented to reflect the future vision.
His presentation also triggered questions on why SCF appeared to shy away from tackling the problem of an unchecked boom in the roaming goat population.
Wulf pointed to Island Government for plans and decisions. Despite existing legislation and a goatreduction programme that was to be implemented with support from Dutch nature funds in October 2013, nothing seemed to have happened since.
Communications officer Johan Schaeffer highlighted SCF’s main achievements in 2013. Among them was the refurbishment of the hyperbaric chamber after years of neglect. However, without trained on-call staff, its actual readiness for treatments remains unresolved. Wulf suggested Med School student volunteers, with the school assuming no legal liabilities. It is yet unclear if the Island Government is to secure a trained on-call medical team. Schaeffer proudly announced the Ocean Health Index which ranked Saba National Marine Park as the second healthiest marine park worldwide for its booming biodiversity. Recent accounts of humpback whale sightings around Saba are encouraging. Researchers are looking into snappers being potential predators for the invasive lionfish. Despite island government mandating SCF to implement an active lionfish spear fishing programme, a natural solution is preferred, it was stated.
With support of Samford University associate professor Jennifer Rahn and a team of researchers, SCF is developing a detailed seafloor map. The assistance of Royal Dutch Navy support vessel Pelikaan and crew in placing mooring blocks around Saba was also mentioned. Schaeffer also noted the community-service cooperation with Caribbean Netherlands Parole Board in the maintenance of trails and signs and in repainting the roof of the SCF-run Trail Shop. The Youth Community and Service Work project leader also led the volunteers in creating tables and benches for the outdoor activity area behind Trail Shop, developed as an outdoor teaching space for youth programmes. SCF is planning to expand this “Outdoor Activity Centre” this year by sprucing up the adjacent nature trail as a family-friendly recreational and educational space. SCF also plans an expansion of the trail network and expressed “great appreciation” of the efforts of Canadian volunteers, who build and maintain trails throughout the island every year. The royal opening of Saba Heritage Trail was also highlighted, as was the cooperation with Saba Archaeology Centre SABARC.
Longstanding cooperation with Sea and Learn organizers led to the start of Youth Environmental Leadership Programme (YELP) and the training of children for the PADI Scuba Diver certificate. This was an extension of SCF’s Snorkel Club, an after-school nature appreciation programme. Youth participation doubled in 2013, it was stated. SCF also assisted in the successful resuscitation of Hell’s Gate Triathlon, which was held January 12.