Bonaire is known for
its love for nature.
It has become a tradition for many generations to understand the importance of nature and the unique position Bonaire has to conserve it.
It has become a tradition for many generations to understand the importance of nature and the unique position Bonaire has to conserve it. With this said, Bonaire developed a master plan to control the development of the island without harming its natural wonders.
The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty that protects wetlands of great international importance with emphasis on the significance of waterfowl. All Ramsar sites registered by the Dutch Caribbean lie within Bonaire: Lac, Pekelmeer, Klein Bonaire, Gotomeer and Slagbaai Lagoon.
Bordered by globally endangered mangroves, numerous waterfowl breed and feed in the area of Lac. The Flamingo Sanctuary at Pekelmeer is one of the most important breeding grounds for the Southern Caribbean Flamingo population. Klein Bonaire, encircled by a great coral reef, offers flamingo feeding and turtle nesting areas. Gotomeer, foraging site for hundreds of flamingos, contains the most important food source for flamingos: brine fly and larvae. Slagbaai lagoon is a foraging and breeding site for flamingos and other birds like pelicans and herons.
Bonaire’s flora consists of a variety of native and imported species and exotics.
Throughout Bonaire’s elevated northern end, visitors can see a desert landscape reminiscent of the American southwest. Varying cacti species including Candle and Prickley Pear are present. Numerous trees and bushes including Brasilwood, Divi Divi, Mesquite Acacia and Calabash are found.
Gardens throughout the island contain numerous flowering plants and trees. Bright orange Flamboyants, Bouganvilla, and Oleanders of all colors are seen. In addition, Century Plants, Rock sage and Aloe appear in different places througout Bonaire. For more information, Bonaire’s Washington Slagbaai National Park Museum has a display of local flora.
Bonaire is home to many land creatures. Some of the more commonly seen include iguanas, land snails and lizards of multiple varieties. In addition, Bonaire has eight different bat species.
Over 203 birds have been identified on the island (both permanent residents and occasional visitors). Some are Bonaire’s own Lora (Yellow-shouldered parrot) and green Prikichis (parakeets). Watch for brightly colored Orioles, Trupials, and Bananaquits. A variety of sea birds are also present, Brown Pelicans, Osprey and Frigates. The shy Flamingo also makes its home in Bonaire.
Donkeys and goats are seen roaming throughout the island. Visitors are encouraged not to harass the wildlife. Feeding from cars makes animals accustomed to roadsides and they become in jeopardy of vehicles. Drive safely and follow the speed limits.
The Flamingo, protected on Bonaire, is the island’s signature bird. Bonaire is one of the only Flamingo breeding sites in the Southern Caribbean. The Flamingo Reserve, nestled among the salt pans on Bonaire’s southern tip, is a special breeding ground for the birds. Admittance is prohibited to the reserve as flamingos are very sensitive to disturbances, but often time flamingos can be seen from the road. Additionally, flamingos may be spotted at Goto Lake, Slagbaai, Playa Funchi and other saltpans.
A few Flamingo facts: Caribbean flamingos have the brightest coloration and are pink because of a diet rich in alpha and beta carotenoid pigments found in algae and insects. Flamingos mainly lay one egg, and chicks are grey and white. In order to fly, flamingos have to get a running start! Did you know that flamingos have little or no sense of smell?
Stichting Nationale Parken (STINAPA), manages the protected Bonaire National Marine and Washington Slagbaai National Parks.
Founded in 1962 as STINAPA Netherlands Antilles, the objective was to have a foundation actively protecting nature in the Netherlands Antilles. The first activities were concentrated on Bonaire. Efforts were made to safeguard the breeding grounds of the Caribbean flamingo and then to create the Washington Park in 1969 - the first sanctuary of the Netherlands Antilles. In 1979, funds were raised and Slagbaai plantation completed the park.
STINAPA manages the protected areas of Bonaire, communicates with Park visitors and cares for the preservation and conservation of nature on Bonaire in general.
STINAPA is dedicated to the conservation of Bonaire’s natural and historical heritage through the sustainable use of its resources. See video >>
STINAPA launched a Queen Conch Restoration Project in Lac in 2010. Lac is the largest bay in the Dutch Caribbean and is not only a critical habitat for Bonaire and the region, but also a RAMSAR site, recognized globally as wetlands of special significance. Lac is a nursery for reef fish and a feeding area for green sea turtle. Also it is an important resting and nesting place for numerous birds and marine invertebrates, including the Queen Conch or Karko. Earlier this shellfish was found in large quantities, but due to overfishing, the population has diminished drastically. Therefore STINAPA started an outreach campaign focusing on the Queen Conch which engages every sector of the local community from schools and daycare centers to churches and the business sector. The slogan of the project was as follows: "Ban trese karko bek, Laga nan na pas pa mañan nos tin mas!" roughly translates to "Bring our conch back; Leave them alone so we can have more tomorrow!"
Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire
Diving in unspoiled nature? Bonaire is known in the world for the way it protects its nature. That’s why in 2012 the Bonaire island council granted a permit to the Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire (formerly Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire) to begin developing a coral nursery and reef restoration project in Bonaire.
The goal of the foundation is to restore degraded portion of the reef, in particular the shallow water population of staghorn and elkhorn corals around Bonaire and the adjacent island Klein Bonaire.
The main production nursery is situated on Klein Bonaire, where the coral is disturbed as little as possible and more nurseries are located in front of Buddy Dive Resort and Harbour Village which are used for training and demonstrations.
RRFB works together with local businesses and dive operators, like Buddy Dive Resort and Great Adventures Bonaire to keep restoring the reef, promote awareness and involve and train tourists and local people as Coral Restoration divers.
For more information visit reefrenewalbonaire.org.
Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire
Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) is a non-governmental research and conservation organization that has been protecting sea turtles since 1991. The small Caribbean island of Bonaire is home to three of the world’s six endangered or critically endangered species of marine turtles: the hawksbill, green, and loggerhead turtle. Green and hawksbill turtles can be seen year-round, while loggerheads generally visit only during the nesting season.
STCB mission is to ensure that Bonaire’s sea turtles have a secure future, and to connect people to sea turtle conservation in ways that inspire caring for nature.
The organization uses best practices in science and conservation to build knowledge and protection of Bonaire’s sea turtles. STCB shares their knowledge to raise awareness, affect policy and build support for biodiversity protection.
You can support the work of STCB by volunteering, attending their bi-monthly presentation on the second and fourth Wednesday evening at Yellow Submarine Dive Friends Bonaire or join as an eco-tourist.
Echo is a non-governmental conservation organization that has been protecting the Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrots (loras) on Bonaire since 2010. The small Caribbean island of Bonaire is one of only a few locations in the world where these parrots can be found. Globally, the population is estimated to be between 2500-7500 and on Bonaire there are about 1000 parrots. Because of their limited range and small numbers, these parrots are listed as Vulnerable to the threat of extinction.Echo's mission is to safeguard the future of the Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot on Bonaire. It pursues this through conservation, education and outreach using research as a tool to inform these efforts.
Echo’s current conservation work is focused on the following actions:
- Reducing the poaching of chicks for the local and international pet trade.
- Restoring the dry-forest habitat that the parrots call home.
- Reducing habitat degradation by non-native species such as donkeys, goats, and pigs.
You can support the work of Echo by volunteering, attending their weekly Wednesday 4:30pm tour of the Conservation Centre at Dos Pos, or by visiting them at the monthly Mangazina di Rei cultural markets
So many buzzwords seem to be circulating these days when it comes to the environment, sustainable, carbon neutral, carbon footprint, balanced, offset, greenhouse emissions, eco-tourism.
So how do we fit them into the scheme of things?
Bonaire is striving to become Carbon Neutral. Our goal is to become a tourism destination that is in balance. We will have our gas emissions (GHG) identified, measured, reduced where possible and 100 percent of the remaining emissions will be offset through high quality renewable energy, energy efficiency and or reforestation projects. This is the easiest way to describe how Bonaire will become a leading carbon neutral destination in the world.