On Tuesday, May 9 th , 2023, the Minister for Climate and Energy, Drs. Rob Jetten, and his delegation
visited Bonaire’s mangrove forest at Lac Bay. He was received by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance
(DCNA) and the Mangrove Maniacs Foundation that gave him a tour. He learned about the forest and
the mangrove restoration taking place. Also the sea grass and coral restoration by STINAPA was
brought under his attention. The Minister also got into the mud helping the volunteers with opening a
Mangrove ecosystems are very important for biodiversity and strengthen coastal areas against extreme
weather conditions. They are important for tourism and fishery, and they are true carbon storage
champions. Together with sea grass and wetlands, mangroves can play an important role in nature-
based solutions to climate change, both in adaptation and mitigation strategies.
The mangrove forest on Bonaire, the largest of the Kingdom, is struggling. Erosion and siltation cause
bad water quality – including high salinity. This has resulted in continuing die offs of mangrove trees.
Based on fisherman’s knowledge, satellite imagery, and local research, the Mangrove Maniacs open up
channels to restore water circulation. A tough job, hence, their name ‘Maniacs’. In the last 10 years, the
volunteers have already maintained more than 3km of channels by hand.
The Minister for Climate and Energy, Drs. Rob Jetten, is co-hosting the Caribbean Climate & Energy
Conference on Aruba from the 10 th to the 12 th of May. Before traveling there, he visited Bonaire. On the
9 th of May 2023, the Mangrove Maniacs and the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) escorted the
Minister and his delegation on a tour through Bonaire’s mangrove forest in Lac Bay. During this tour, the
Minister and the two organizations discussed the importance of mangrove forests, the stress the trees
experience, and the need for mangrove and sea grass restoration. Not just for Bonaire, but also for the
other five Dutch Caribbean islands.
Globally, research is being conducted into how mangroves, sea grass, coral and wetlands can play a role
in tackling the climate crisis. Through the local park management organizations and many other local
ngo’s in conservation, the Dutch Caribbean islands already posses a lot of knowledge and expertise on
these ecosystems, how they can be restored, and how they can be used in climate mitigation and
adaptation. The DCNA emphasized, however, that capacity building and structural financing is necessary
and that cooperation between and with the six Dutch Caribbean islands is key.
Besides the fruitful conversations between the Minister and his delegation, the Mangrove Maniacs, and
the DCNA, the Minister also got his hands ‘dirty’ while helping the volunteers of the Mangrove Maniacs
with opening a channel.