St. Maarten to Protect Lands of the Emilio Wilson Estate

The Emilio Wilson Estate Foundation (EWEF) in St. Maarten hopes the government will proceed with plans to purchase 370,000 square meters of the estate to protect it as a National Park, thus helping the estate to establish an Ecological and Historical Centre and Protected Area. See excerpts from The Daily Herald.

Emilio Wilson Estate Foundation (EWEF) said on Tuesday that it welcomed the news of government’s reported intention to purchase 370,000 square metres of Emilio Wilson Estate, including historical structures/areas, provided it is government’s intention to zone and establish the entire estate as St. Maarten’s first land-based protected area.

EWEF reminded government that the entire Emilio Wilson Estate was on the Monument list and that commitments had been made to the people of St. Maarten to protect the entire estate. EWEF also reminded government that the current owners of Emilio Wilson Estate had obtained the estate years after government already had taken decisions and made public announcements indicating its intent to protect the entire estate.

The foundation pointed out that the owners had obtained the Estate in full knowledge of the fact that it was slated for protection and not for residential or commercial development. “EWEF’s position on Emilio Wilson Estate is simple. The entire Emilio Wilson Estate should be established as a National Park for the protection of the area’s natural and cultural-historical value, but also for the long-term welfare of St. Maarten’s residents,” the foundation said.

“Spending time in green open spaces such as Emilio Wilson Estate has been shown to improve people’s health, happiness and overall wellbeing. From an economic perspective St. Maarten’s natural and cultural heritage, and Emilio Wilson Estate itself, forms the foundation of the island’s tourism-driven economy. The durability of St. Maarten’s tourism product greatly depends on the level of nature conservation and environmental care, and requires a balance between tourism and the natural environment.”

EWEF said its goal was to turn Emilio Wilson Estate into “Emilio Wilson Estate Ecological and Historical Centre and Protected Area,” much like Curaçao’s Christoffel Park, Aruba’s Parke Arikok and Puerto Rico’s many protected areas.

[. . .] EWEF said too many of St. Maarten’s hillsides, ponds and other coastal areas had been sacrificed for tourism-related development. “We are jeopardising our own wellbeing and the viability of our tourism-driven economy through the systematic destruction of the very foundation on which it is built: St. Maarten’s natural and cultural heritage. The time has come to safeguard the natural heritage we have left,” it concluded.

For full article, see http://caribbean.ww.thedailyherald.com/islands/1-islands-news/30007-emilio-wilson-estate-foundation-wants-park-zoned-and-protected-.html

For more information, see http://www.todaysxm.com/2011/11/02/emilio-wilson-foundation-repeats-plea-for-protection-in-face-of-new-development-plan/

For history of the estate (and photos), see http://ewef.sxmconservationfoundations.org/aboutEW.php and http://www.discover-stmaarten.com/emilio-wilson.html

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