Three ERM students feature in St Maarten's The Daily Herald

The Simpson Bay Lagoon – a Caribbean gem, hub of commerce and activity, and environmental disaster zone all at once – is now the focus of three Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam students, who are working together to research the value of one of the largest inland lagoons in the Caribbean from various angles: social, environmental and economic.

04/16/2019 | 5:28 PM

Anne Molenaar, Anna Fralikhina and Sem Duijndam are Master students in Environment and Resource Management at VU Amsterdam and interns for Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC). The research is forming the basis for their graduation theses.

The three are building on a foundation set by former EPIC Project Manager Kippy Gilders, who carried out exploratory research, and catalogued the various functions and services of the lagoon.

The students will be delving into the most important items, such as tourism, storm surge protection, biodiversity, recreation and water quality.

While they have only recently arrived on the island, they have already done all the secondary research possible, and have started gathering pertinent information from some of the island’s stakeholders.

The three are combining resources and collecting primary information by means of a household survey, to be carried out throughout the island, on both the French and Dutch sides. 

The lagoon’s value can be evaluated from different perspectives, and each student will be using the research findings to answer different questions.

Sem Duijndam will be looking at the lagoon’s economic value, and delve into how different people utilise the lagoon (for example, in work or recreation) and how negative environmental impacts such as pollution or overdevelopment affect industries and livelihoods, directly or indirectly.

Anna Molenaar is also considering value from an economic perspective, and exploring how the community perceives this value. How do people perceive the natural environment in general and how is it reflected in their actions? Do demographics play a role?

Anna Fralikhina is focusing on water quality in different parts of the lagoon, aiming to map out which places suffer from what types of pollution, and what the sources are. This gives insight into how the issues can best be managed.

Delving into the different aspects will provide a clearer view of what the Simpson Bay Lagoon really means to the island’s community.

The link to the full story is here.