Gentrification threat to Bonaire island wildlife

This video says about itself:

Wildlife in Bonaire. HD movie with iguana (drinking and falling from tree), flamingo, pelican, parrot, caracara: October 2011.

Translated from Joop Bouma, in Dutch daily Trouw, 3 January 2020:

On a plantation on Bonaire, the cadushis make way for expensive villas

Conservationists on Bonaire are concerned about a plan for 1500 houses on a former plantation. It is a fragile tropical forest area. The project developer does not understand the fuss.

“Oh dear, look, that’s how it goes”, Johan de Blerk, tree lover on Bonaire, is visibly shocked when he suddenly sees a huge tree cactus lying on the cliff high above the Caribbean Sea. Just cut down. A cadushi of about 4 meters high with a thick trunk. At least a hundred years old, he estimates. A perfectly healthy specimen, he points to young shoots on the felled cactus. The sawdust from the chainsaw is still fresh. “I am going to make a declaration”, he says reluctantly. “This is not allowed. This tree is on the red list. This is exactly how things are done here so often.”

We are on the edge of the Bolivia area, on the east coast of Bonaire, between the old village Rincon and the capital Kralendijk. Bolivia is a former goat plantation and aloe was grown here a long time ago. The 2850 hectare area – 10 percent of the entire island – is covered with dry tropical forest. The species richness has been seriously compromised by decades of grazing goats, donkeys and pigs. Young growth does not get a chance, as in the whole of nature in Bonaire. Dry tropical forest is one of the important Caribbean habitats, but also one with a “very unfavorable future”, according to a recent report by Wageningen scientists commissioned by the Ministries of Agriculture and Economic Affairs in The Hague.

On the very edge of Bolivia, where we are now, a narrow strip of land has recently been sold for housing. It is a beautiful place with a majestic view over the former plantation, with the endless, shimmering Caribbean Sea behind it. Who doesn’t want to live there?

De Blerk, who is committed to preserving and restoring nature on the island, knows better than anyone that landowners often cut down a lot. Often deliberately in violation of the rules, sometimes simply because of ignorance. That is why he visited the buyers of the four lots in Bolivia. Also the piece of land on which we stand. To explain that so many trees have already disappeared from the free nature of Bonaire and that what is still there must be cherished. De Blerk believes that this concern is also due to the enormous cacti, even though many of them grow on the island.

For trees with a trunk diameter of more than 20 centimeters, a felling permit must be applied for on Bonaire. That should have been clear for this sawn-down cactus. According to De Blerk, permission would not have been granted for a tree that could be a century old. Why did this huge cactus on the edge of the cliff have to be felled? Was it because the tree obstructed the clear view of the Caribbean Sea? Further down the cliff are still some large cadushis. “When it comes to the view, I am afraid that they will also go.”

Stories about an anonymous Dutch project developer

But on balance, the few building plots on the outskirts of Bolivia are not his biggest concern. De Blerk is afraid that the special character and vegetation of the former plantation will disappear if a much larger and more extensive building plan for the area continues. Because since a while on Bonaire stories have been circulating about an anonymous Dutch project developer who wants to build 1500 houses or more on Bolivia. Expensive houses along the cliff – because there, with that view, everyone wants to live – and cheaper houses elsewhere in the area.

According to a website with roaring texts, the investor wants to restore Bolivia’s nature and cultural history, construct a cycle route and roads. Between 600 and 900 hectares of the area would be developed. The site, set up by Bonaire Investments NV, contains phrases about ‘an area with enormous opportunities’ … ‘extra attention to nature and the preservation of landscape values’ … ‘where there is room for nature, education and heritage’. The conservationists on Bonaire also think these are good words, but you can claim everything on a website, who actually says this?

Questions that are asked via the email address on the website will not receive a response even after repeated attempts. Only after some searching does a name appear, that of Frans Vinju, former banker and asset adviser in Breda. Yes, he mediated between the current owners and the interested Dutch buyer, he says by telephone at the end of November. The deal is then just not completely complete, so the project developer wants to stay under the radar for a while.

Bonaire map

Bolivia has been designated as an “open landscape” in the Bonaire zoning plan

One of the owners of Bolivia is Richard Hart, former governor of Bonaire. From 1998 to 2003, he was the highest political authority on the island. He reports by e-mail that he inherited Bolivia from his father. The land was already sold in the mid-sixties of the last century to American investors who transferred their assets to Bonaire Properties NV, of which Hart is co-director as a minority shareholder. …

“We are aware”, says WNF spokesperson Dylan de Gruijl in a response. “This is an important nature reserve and large-scale development violates nature values ​​and the surrounding coral reefs. We believe that this is not desirable here, without taking into account the conservation of the natural values. ”The WNF is in close contact with partners on Bonaire, he adds; possibly joint action will be taken as soon as the building permits are applied for. …

But then, last Saturday, an article appears in Amigoe, newspaper on Bonaire. “Controversial sale of Bolivia plantation off”, the headline reads. The newspaper writes, after contacting Hart, that the sale of the land to the project developer is canceled. According to the newspaper, Hart does not want to say more. Further information will follow in mid-January, he says in Amigoe.

A trick to get ownership of the land

After questions by Trouw, Hart refers to Meine Breemhaar, entrepreneur from Almere. He is the mysterious investor in Bolivia. Breemhaar is a multi-millionaire and the owner of nearly 40 companies in Overijssel, Gelderland and Flevoland. He is in the Quote 500, the list of richest Dutch people.

The construction plan on Bonaire is not off, it appears. Breemhaar has done a trick to get ownership of the land. When it turned out that [plan opponent] Nijland and his neighbors wanted to make use of their first right to buy Bolivia, not the entire site, but the adjacent plots, the investor decided to buy Bonaire Properties NV as a whole. Bremhaar is now the owner of Bolivia and of a few smaller, former plantations on Bonaire.

New nature reserve for Bonaire island bats

This 5 September 2019 video says about itself:

Safeguarding Nature Projects – Bonaire – Caves & Karst Nature Reserve

Julianka Clarenda is visiting Fernando Simal of WILDCONSCIENCE and The Caribbean Speleological Society (CARIBSS) to see the Caves & Karst Nature Reserve.

This project of the Public Entity Bonaire in cooperation with WILDCONSCIENCE and The Caribbean Speleological Society (CARIBSS) is funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV).

Movie commissioned by DCNA, on behalf of Ministry of LNV, produced by B-onair.

Local authorities of Bonaire island in the Caribbean reported, 17 December 2019 (translated):

Caves & Karst Reserve on Bonaire. The 31-hectare park that comprises a special cave system with a colony of bats is an initiative of the local organization Wild Conscience and the Caribbean Speleological Society. …

Bonaire has around 200 caves, some of which are delivery rooms for the 7 bat species. They contribute significantly to the biodiversity of the island that has been a special municipality of the Netherlands since 2010.

Bonaire island marine life, video

This 13 June 2019 video says about itself:

The Dazzling Marine Life of the Salt Pier in Bonaire

A trumpetfish swims along in its unusual vertical pose, while a stoplight parrotfish performs its reef-cleaning duties – these are just some of the dazzling marine life that inhabit Salt Pier.

Bonaire coral spawning, video

This 2011 video says about itself:

How does an animal like coral that lives attached to the bottom (and can’t move around) create new colonies far away? Jonathan spends a week in Bonaire studying coral spawning. He learns how these animals release eggs into the water at the right time of the year to create new coral colonies. But they only do it at night, at certain times of the year. Jonathan’s film expedition requires careful timing.

A new study has found that a common coral species might have evolved unique immune strategies to cope with environmental change: here.

Corals know how to attract good company. New research finds that corals emit an enticing fluorescent green light that attracts the mobile microalgae, known as Symbiodinium, that are critical to the establishment of a healthy partnership: here.

Tarpon swimming off Bonaire

This 30 November 2017 video is about tarpon and other fish swimming off Bonaire island in the Caribbean.

Rudolf Mulder made this video.

Dutch government admits illegal spying on Caribbean island

Jopie Abraham, center, during negotiations with the Dutch government, ANP photo

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Former minister of Bonaire island spied upon illegally

Today, 08:12

Jopie Abraham, former minister and executive authority member of Bonaire, was unlawfully spied upon by the intelligence service AIVD. The politician had complained about that to [Dutch Home Office] Minister Plasterk and then came a study conducted by the Commission for Supervision of Intelligence and Security (CTIVD).

Plasterk has written a letter to Abraham in which he says that it was “a short period” and that measures have been taken, reports NRC daily.

Plasterk does not want to tell many details anyway, because the CTIVD report is “secret”. Abraham says that the AIVD has spied upon politicians in Bonaire in the period that they negotiated with the Dutch government about incorporation into the Netherlands. In 2010, the Dutch West Indies were disbanded. Bonaire became then on October 10, along with Saba and St. Eustatius, a special municipality in the Netherlands.

State security

The action by the AIVD in Bonaire was “mostly legitimate,” Plasterk wrote in his letter. But for a short time no spying should have been done and that part is therefore illegal.

Abraham, who was leader of the Partido Demokrátiko Boneriano, was an MP when there was a burglary in his office. Documents disappeared and because he did not trust that he asked to see his AIVD file. But although this is a legal right, Minister Plasterk declined access by invoking national security.

During the period that the service gathered information about Abraham Bonaire was part of the Netherlands Antilles. Former Prime Minister Emily de Jongh-Elhage says not to have known of the spying, although she then officially had to give permission for it.

Bonaire national park saved from ‘developers’

This video says about itself:

SSE Bonaire 4 (The Dance Of The Coral Reef)

6 August 2014

Filming some of my favorite reef animals in Bonaire while they perform their eternal dance.


NautaDutilh successfully enforces the protection of Bonaire National Marine Park


Netherlands July 22 2015

In a ruling of 20 July 2015, the Court of First Instance of Bonaire again reversed the decisions to build a large-scale hotel and restaurant pier in the middle of a heavily protected marine park. As was the case last year, the decisions were carelessly prepared and poorly motivated by the local authorities. Anne-Marie Klijn and Berend Haagen from NautaDutilh are advising and conducting legal proceedings at the request of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), The Bonaire National Parks Foundation (STINAPA, statutory manager) and Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) against a maze of public authority decisions facilitating building activity in the marine park. In addition to being an intended UNESCO world heritage site, the park is one of the oldest and best managed marine reservations in the world.

The Court acknowledges that the local authority is significantly breaching the decades-old protection policy of the marine park by allowing building activities, while no specific reason has been given why this long-standing policy is being violated and what this will mean. In fact, the reasoning is based only on the final result and there is no evidence of a proper and satisfactory spatial assessment (including investigation) for the decision to amend the Bonaire Spatial Development Plan, according to the Court.

Taking account of the nature-related and economic interests of Bonaire

In addition, the Court considers that because of the size and complexity of the problem and in view of the significant interests at stake for the nature and economy of Bonaire, it is highly probable that the island council will no longer be able to avoid an environmental impact assessment when taking any new decision. The assessments already carried out do not qualify as such. The Court also ruled that the nature permit on the basis of the Bonaire underwater park island order is invalid and may be considered separately in law from the Bonaire Spatial Development Plan that the Court reversed, so that decision too has been quashed.

The fact that the concerns of STINAPA and STCB are not unfounded is supported by international coral reef experts who fear irreversible consequences for the reef and by the previous refusals of the local authority dating from 2009, which were cited by the Court, relating to the same pier: “In conclusion, the construction of the pier, the dimensions and the design form are contrary to the marine environment directives and the policy pursued by the island territory since the early 1990s to protect the underwater park. Many permits have been refused in the past on this basis. It would be very risky to adopt a different position now and to create a precedent, as this would seriously undermine the policy developments and also prejudice Bonaire’s image as a green island”.

In other words, the Court’s ruling reinforces the objectives of STINAPA and STCB to protect the Bonaire National Marine Park.

Good least tern news from Bonaire

This video is called Nesting Least Terns.

Translated from IMARES research institute in the Netherlands, on 30 May 2014:

Near Bonaire, an artificial island has been constructed where terns can breed without predators or disturbances. With the help of wooden terns decoys, after two weeks over ninety least tern couples are breeding on the island.

There are two common tern nests as well.

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New marine species discoveries in Bonaire sea

This video says about itself:

Lionfish spotted in Bonaire

21 June 2013

Lionfish spotted with the submarine spotted at depths of approximately 300feet deep. These were spotted on a sunken boat where many of them created their habitat.

From IMARES research institute in Wageningen, the Netherlands, last year:

The marine biologists Erik Meesters and Lisa Becking of IMARES Wageningen UR have explored Bonaire‘s deep reef using a submarine. They found unusual animals, fossil reefs, and even archaeological artefacts.

The goal of the Bonaire Deep Reef Expedition is to take an initial inventory of the habitat and biodiversity of the deep reef.

On the morning of 18 May 2014, Lisa Becking was interviewed by Vroege Vpgels radio in the Netherlands about the results of the expedition. Photos are here.

Ms Becking said the discoveries included 13 sponge species, new for science; and two sponge species already known from elsewhere, but not from Bonaire waters yet. They found 30 sponge species, so half was new, either for Bonaire, or for science.

They also found one new shrimp species and two new fish species.

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Aruba, Bonaire bats travel to Venezuela

This video says about itself:

Lesser long-nosed bats at hummingbird feeder

8 okt. 2009

Bats on Hummingbird feeder in southern AZ. in early October

Lesser Long-nosed bats (Leptonycteris curasoae). A species that feeds on the nectar. They migrate up from northern Mexico and arrive in south-central Arizona when columnar cactus begin flowering in late spring. The bats drink the nectar and then eat the fruit of saguaros while moving east across southern Arizona. During late summer and early fall the lesser longed-nosed bats reach southeast Arizona where their primary food source becomes agaves and urban hummingbird feeders. Lesser long-nosed bats are federally listed as an endangered species in both the U.S. and Mexico

From the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) on 10 May 2014:

Exactly one year ago, researchers from STINAPA Bonaire‘s Natural and Historic Resources Unit recaptured a Long-nosed Bat (Leptonycteris curasoae) on Bonaire originally tagged on Curaçao, confirming that this species migrates between the islands. Over the last year, Aruba was added to the list when bats ringed on Bonaire were recaptured on Aruba. These recaptures demonstrated that there is a meta-population of Long-nosed Bats moving between all three islands. Thanks to ongoing monitoring of this nocturnal flying mammal by a team of dedicated researchers, we now know that these bats migrate as far as Venezuela.

In March 2014, three Long-nosed Bats tagged on Aruba and one on Bonaire were recaptured in Venezuela by a team of scientists, led by Dr. Jafet Nassar from the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC). The recaptures took place close to the city of Coro in the state of Falcón in mainland Venezuela. This was the ‘missing piece of the puzzle’ of the migratory and long-distance movements of these amazing creatures. This exciting discovery is the product of more than five years of monitoring by STINAPA Bonaire, CARMABI, Fundacion Parke Nacional Arikok (united in the Bat Conservation Program of the ABC Islands – PPRABC) and the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research. During this time, more than 6,000 individual bats were captured and tagged.

The Long-nosed Bat has an important ecological role on the ABC islands as a key pollinator species for several species of columnar cacti. This discovery adds to our understanding of mammalian ecology and the population dynamics of this keystone species and could have significant implications for the management and conservation of bat populations on the Dutch Caribbean islands and abroad.

PPRABC is a member of RELCOM – The Latin American and Caribbean Network for Bat Conservation.

Bats take a bite out of Ozzy Osbourne’s building plans. The Black Sabbath singer, who once bit the head off a bat, sees his plans to convert a barn on his Buckinghamshire estate quashed after council finds evidence of his winged nemeses: here.

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