Sunday, December 11, 2011

Year of the Shoco, the Year of Wisdom – 2012 Aruba Bird Calendar launched

Aruba Bound
December 8th, 2011- Aruba Birdlife Conservation proposes 2012 to be the Year of the Shoco, the year of wisdom. 2012 should be Aruba’s year of nature conservation. Aruba Birdlife Conservation proposes that a National Conservation Master Plan be developed and implemented in an effort to save very important nature areas. Achieving such would guarantee a certain level of quality of Product Aruba and in turn guarantee a certain level of quality of life to all.

Aruba’s Arikok National Park, which is good for some 17% of the island’s surface, is a true jewel, but it does not reflect the complete variety of micro habitats to be found in Aruba. For instance, Aruba is internationally known for its 3 IBA’s, or Important Bird Areas, none of which are part of our National Park. These are the reef islands at the San Nicolas Bay area, Spanish Lagoon and Bubali Plas. While our national park is among the most arid of places on the island and its northern border with the Caribbean Sea can be quite hostile, the important bird areas are to its contrary characterized by their peaceful interplay between land and water which generates better opportunities for Aruba’s wildlife. Of the 224 bird species registered in Aruba, less than 25% of the species can be found in our national park.

Aruba Bound
Aruba Birdlife Conservation proposes that the following areas be added to our National Park in order to conserve a more holistic representation of Aruba’s variety of micro habitats, which would then cover a greater variety of our flora and fauna.

Areas of Aruba which should be conserved for future generations by adding them to our national park entail among others the three above mentioned important bird areas. We can start with all the reef islands adjacent to the south coast of the island. These contribute significantly to one of Aruba’s unique traits in the world. Aruba is so far the only place in the world where 10 species of terns breed. The Bubali Plas, once a bird wildlife hotspot is beginning to lose its importance. Plans are in the making to revamp this location through water and reed management, which would boost its importance back to its original level. The Spanish Lagoon is connected to our national park by two ‘rooien’, Rooi Taki and Rooi Bringamosa. Adding the Spanish Lagoon and these green corridors to the national park would directly link a part of the south side of our island with the northern park area. In accordance with world nature conservation recommendations, all areas containing mangrove trees should be conserved by adding them to the park. Areas such as from Mangel Halto to Santo Largo (Aruba’s most extensive mangrove area) as well as the mangrove areas from Parkietenbos Landfill all the way to the Varadero yacht club should be added to our national park. The reef islands in front of the Oranjestad harbor, which were once covered with
Aruba Bound
mangroves, could become a nice restoration project. Our saliňas which contribute to the survival chances of migratory birds should be part of the conservation efforts. Saliňa di Malmok, Saliňa di Palmbeach, Saliňa Santo Largo and Saliňa Savaneta should be included in the national park as well as our ponds (tankis). Other important areas such as Rooi Lamoenchi, Cero Teishi, Rooi Manonchi, the seaside area from Zeewijk to Cura Cabay and from Kudareba (westpunt) to Arashi should also be incorporated. Then there are our beautiful dunes which cannot be excluded. And last but not least, the wings to the sides of Parke Nacional Arikok should be extended. To compliment these terrestrial areas, the largest part possible of our territorial waters including beaches should be declared Aruba’s marine park.

Aruba Birdlife Conservation started a campaign on February 4, 2011 to get our Shoco nominated as the National Bird of Aruba. Dr. Adrian Delnevo recently estimated that there are only approximately 200 pairs of Shoco’s left. The numbers continue to dwindle. The Shoco is one of the two endemic sub-species Aruba has. Protecting this unique bird of Aruba may prevent its extinction. We hope that the Government of Aruba will soon declare our Shoco the National Bird of Aruba. The nomination of our Shoco, the symbol of wisdom, as the National Bird of Aruba, could then be seen as the kick-off for the development and implementation of an ambitious National Conservation Master Plan. Just Imagine Aruba!

This is the fourth consecutive year that Aruba Birdlife Conservation has launched a bird calendar. We are grateful to Chartis, the sponsor as well as the ministers and members of parliament who are starting to rally conservation efforts. The calendars are on sale for 12,50 florin and all funds go to the Aruba Birdlife Conservation foundation. Contact can be established via aruba.birdlife.conservation@gmail.com.

Greg Peterson – chairman of Aruba Birdlife Conservation.

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