February 15, 2023
Today, many international race regattas focus on leaving no impact behind. But the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will leave a growing and long-lasting reminder from every team taking part, thanks to a new environmental initiative being launched this year.
“The aim is to plant at least 100 mangrove trees, representing one per boat entered at the event to leave a positive impact on the island,” says Regatta Director Michele Korteweg. Working closely with Nature Foundation St. Maarten and EPIC (Environmental Protection in the Caribbean), the trees have been grown from locally sourced seeds.
Regatta competitors are encouraged to take part in the mangrove planting, which will take place in two sessions: on Tuesday February 28 just days before the Regatta starts, and Saturday March 11. One hundred mangrove saplings will be planted at Little Key in Simpson Bay Lagoon.
Nature Foundation volunteers are arranging for boats to ferry regatta participants to Little Key where the mangrove trees are being planted. Leslie Hickerson, Manager of the Nature Foundation St. Maarten, says planting mangroves are vital to help revitalize the St. Maarten coastal environment, which is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Irma.
“Mangroves are incredibly beneficial to the environment. They act as fish nursery and breeding grounds, reduce the impact of storm surge on coastlines, help mitigate climate change by acting as carbon sinks, and much more. Unfortunately, because they are mainly found in coastal areas, development on the lagoon and the beaches of St. Maarten has caused many of these incredible species to have been removed. EPIC’s mangrove restoration program at Little Key has been incredibly successful. We are excited to help continue their hard work by adding new plants to the area!” shares Hickerson.