Reforestation Project Final Report

Bonaire has never recovered from the historic felling of its trees. The strong influence of feral goats prevents rejuvenation in those parts where a plant cover is still present, thereby reducing the biodiversity of plant and tree species. In addition to these pressures, the habitat of the Yellow-shouldered Amazon parrot is under continual threat from commercial and residential development. Herbivore free enclosures as well as reforestation is a proven solution for the habitat degradation of the island. Due to the relatively harsh climatic conditions on Bonaire, the natural development of the vegetation is often slow. Exclusion of exotic herbivores and reforestation can be effective tools in order to add significantly to the biomass and vegetation development as well as other positive ecosystem services (Coolen, 2015; DCNA, 2013). Erosion control by the increased root development, soil and litter build-up, carbon sequestration and eventually canopy recovery are examples of these possible trade-offs. Important notice on the forest rehabilitation management is the absence of any scientific documentation about the original forest ecosystem present on the island before human impact. As the current vegetation of Bonaire is impacted and shaped by the presence of exotic herbivores, the current ecosystem is in a clearly degraded state. Forest restoration efforts by Echo are aimed at improving the biomass and biodiversity in order to rehabilitate the degraded vegetation, but the reforestation goals are always based on an estimation of the potential natural vegetation.

The main reforestation objective for Echo is forest restoration and creating awareness about the importance, degradation and vulnerability of the dry forest on Bonaire. This is done by involving the local community in the management and results of these reforestation areas. The scientific documentation of the vegetation within these reforestation enclosures by Echo can expand our knowledge about this important ecosystem. This can support future research on conservation and plant biodiversity in Bonaire. Current experiences with these 10 reforestation sites can furthermore add to the knowledge and sustainable management of plant resources of the island. As a result, Bonaire can be the ideal springboard for environmental innovation/restoration to be replicated and scaled once successful.

During the reforestation project Echo have build 10 exclusore reforestation site in the northern half of the island and planted a total of 14.523 trees together with the community as part of the reforestation project. The total fenced use to exclude the 10 reforestation area is 4550 meter to accumulate a total of 11.44 protected hectares for reforestation purpose. Followed the main activities completed to execute the project. Most of the activities done in the project are ongoing through maintenance and further development of new reforestation sites.

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