The Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical Garden was created by St Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA) in 1999 when 5 hectares of land were leased from the island government in order to provide a sanctuary for Statia’s native flora to thrive, away from roaming livestock and invasive plants.
Fast forward almost twenty years into 2017, STENAPA found themselves needing to rebuild the garden after Hurricane Irma and later Maria passed near Statia. Beloved trees were lost, and the shade-house was severely damaged. Prior to these hurricanes, the garden staff had to struggle with roaming livestock, mainly goats and cows, gaining access to the property from weak points in the fencing. Their presence in the garden limited the addition of new plants to the grounds and reduced the flourishing flora that was already there. The botanical garden ranger and a 3-month turnover of interns and volunteers provided only so much manpower to maintain the garden in its former glory. Strategic plans are being developed to improve STENAPA’s capacity to maintain the garden and other aspects of its operation. Also, a previously active botanical garden committee or volunteer group may be reintroduced in one form or another.
The year of 2019 has seen quite a few changes with a redesign of Phase I – a new schematic layout and management plan – and upgrades to certain structures. The first thing you will see is a new gate welcoming you inside. Please remember to close it behind you when you enter and when you leave. To your right you will see the new, stronger, taller and larger shade-house, within which the garden crew will cultivate our native and naturalized trees. The problem of roaming livestock entering via damaged fencing has been fixed with a new fence, which is also equipped with special ‘iguana passes’ added along the base. The diamond shape of the fence trap iguanas by their hind quarters, leading to their death unless otherwise rescued. These passes allow the critically endangered animal to travel safely between their home, food and nesting sites.
The visitors center is currently undergoing its upgrade with a fresh coat of paint to the exterior, as well as ongoing work is being completed on the interior. The gazebo and picnic benches are still available for a gathering with family and friends. Also, the whale watching area is still gorgeous and ready for you as the humpback whales may already be passing between Statia and St Kitts!
Most of this has been made possible through several funding entities to which STENAPA is grateful: Long time donor, The Prince Bernhard Nature Fund, The Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) in collaboration with the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) – hurricane recovery funds – and The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) -strengthening nature management funds.