Mangrove and Seagrass Restoration on Bonaire

Vegetated coastal ecosystems provide important ecosystem services on which humans depend. Mangrove and seagrass ecosystems function as a nursery for fish, sequester large amounts of carbon and protect our coasts. Mangroves and seagrasses worldwide are threatened by human disturbances like coastal development, tourism, pollution, and climate change. Therefore, the protection of these valuable ecosystems is crucial and understanding underlying dynamics becomes increasingly important. Monitoring restoration efforts of mangroves and seagrasses provides more knowledge on effective restoration measures. On the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire, both large areas of mangrove forest and seagrass beds are present. Nature organisations like Mangrove Maniacs and STINAPA work together on mangrove and seagrass restoration. However, there are still knowledge gaps on the most suitable restoration measures for certain areas and there is a lack of monitoring. Therefore, this four month professional internship with Mangrove Maniacs focussed on monitoring mangrove and seagrass restoration efforts. In consultation with the internship host, activities included monitoring a new mangrove restoration pilot in the mangrove forest of Lac Bay, a reforestation area near Lac Bay and a new seagrass restoration experiment at Klein Bonaire. Besides, helping to set up a regional blue carbon network, analysing data and conducting a literature review were also part of this internship, next to joining the weekly Tuesday morning of channel maintenance with the Mangrove Maniacs. With this internship research, I was able to provide new insights on mangrove and seagrass restoration on Bonaire which could help steering future research and restoration plans of the host organisation.

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