Landscape-ecological survey of Arikok National Park, Aruba Restoring vegetation of a dry tropical island
Aruba invokes the image of a Caribbean tropical island paradise, with white sandy beaches and palm trees waving in the wind. The interior of the island, however is a dry place covered in thorny bushes and cacti. Arikok National Park protects a large portion of the remaining natural land of the island: steep hills with dry river beds and an area of limestone plateaus. The natural environment of Arikok is highly degraded due to a history of clear-cutting of trees and free roaming goats. It is thought that the vegetation was originally a dry tropical forest, but now it is mainly thorny woodland and shrubland, the thorny tree Hubada (Acacia tortuosa) dominating the vegetation. The park management is interested in restoring more natural vegetation to the park. To this end, it is necessary to know which vegetation types exist in the park and how they are linked to the landscape. The goal of this research project was to gain insight in the links between vegetation types and the abiotic environment in Arikok Park, and to make a landscape-ecological map combined with descriptions of the landscape-vegetation types. This can help prioritize areas which need to be protected and from where restoration can take place.