IHE Delft and The Nature Foundation Collaborate on Coral Reef Competition

Written by Pooja Sadarangani, on 23 March 2021

The Nature Foundation is a non-profit organization located on the island of St. Maarten. The main goal of this foundation is to preserve and enhance the environment of St. Maarten for generations to come. 

The coral reefs of St. Maarten are progressively worsening, and they were already threatened due to factors such as pollution, overfishing, and natural disasters. Hurricane Irma is one example of the natural disasters that have negatively affected coral reefs on St. Maarten. Furthermore, there have been cases of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease which also negatively impact the coral reefs of the island. 


IHE Delft and The Nature Foundation

Tourists from all around the world come to St. Maarten to enjoy the stunning coral reefs while they scuba dive or snorkel. Coastal waters also remain clear due to coral reefs, which is another major source of income for the economy of the island. If the coral reefs are not managed and taken care of, then there will be a significant loss in terms of income and livelihood because coral reefs contribute roughly USD$50 million to the economy. 


Despite the protective legislation of coral reefs, there is still much work to be done, and the youth of St. Maarten has excellent and creative ideas. This is why IHE Delft, with financial support from the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, along with the Nature Foundation, held a competition for students aged 12-19 years of age. The theme of this competition was Saving the Coral Reefs of St. Maarten, and the purpose was for students from various high schools to come together and create proposals. The aim of the competition was also to create a sense of ownership on the part of the island population by generating awareness amongst students, the local government, donor organizations, businesses and the people of St. Maarten about the loss of corals and its potential consequences for the island's economy.


"This project was an amazing opportunity from IHE Delft Institute of Water Education for our local students. It is an important function of the Nature Foundation to educate the next generation of leaders of our island to treat our natural resources with respect. The presentations made by the representatives from IHE Delft had a great impact on many students, who otherwise would not have been introduced to the subject of coral reefs in their regular curriculum."- Nature Foundation 


Student Competitions During COVID-19

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, it was difficult for students to collaborate and create projects. They had to manage with little access to schools and online education, and did not always have the best facilities. These students made a great effort in collaborating together and developing ideas that the Nature Foundation can use for protecting and saving coral reefs. Student, Shaniqua Moon said: "It was important to enter this competition because the coral around Sint Maarten/St. Martin is in bad shape and really needs help. If I could do one thing to help the coral reefs it would be to ban the sale of all sunscreen that is not 100% reef friendly."

On 20 February 2021, the winners of the Student Coral Competition received their prizes! Prizes were given for Most Exceptional Research, Most Creative, and Best Proposal. The winner’s projects were the “Save the St. Maarten Reefs Project”, “Coral Gardening Project” and “the Coral Redemption Project”. On behalf of IHE Delft and nature foundation, we would like to congratulate students Shaniqua Moon Schladt, Cai Fang Li, Maiangel Martis, Mathijs Detering, Rouvin Playfair,and Mehak Chandiramani.


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