Power Point Presentation
Beukering, P. van
This study is part of the research project “What is St Eustatius Nature Worth?”, a project that is part of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) Caribbean Netherlands. Healthy ecosystems such as the coral reef patches and the forests on the hillsides of Boven and the Quill are critical to the society of St Eustatius. The St Eustatius Strategic Development Plan (SDP) acknowledges the importance of the natural environment as an important attraction and asset for the development of the tourism sector. In the last decades, various local and global developments have turned into serious threats to these fragile ecosystems, thereby jeopardizing the foundations of the island’s economy. It is crucial to understand how nature contributes to the economy and wellbeing to make well-founded decisions that affect the natural environment on this special tropical island.
This research aims to determine the economic value of the main ecosystem services that are provided by the natural resources of St Eustatius and their overall importance to society. The challenge of this project is to deliver insight that supports decision- makers in the long-term management of the island’s economy and natural environment. From the onset of the study, stakeholders participated by facilitating data and simultaneously giving support to the concept of valuing ecosystem services. They address the most relevant ecosystems and ecosystem services for St Eustatius. The study applies a range of economic valuation and evaluation tools. By surveying over a 1,000 people including tourists, local residents, and citizens of the mainland of the Netherlands, this study estimated the willingness of individuals to pay for the protection of nature on St Eustatius.
In total, 8 different ecosystem services have been valued in monetary terms. The total economic value (TEV) is the sum of these ecosystem services provided by the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of St Eustatius. It is calculated to be 25.2 million USD per year. This TEV and its underlying components can be used to build a strategy for effective conservation measures and sustainable development on St Eustatius.
Key findings for St Eustatius
- The current total economic value (TEV) of the natural environment on St Eustatius is 25.2 million USD annually and consists of de following 8 values: non-use, tourism, fisheries, research, carbon sequestration, medicinal plants, local value, and agriculture and livestock.
- The aggregated annual amount for the value for conserving the natural environment by residents of the Netherlands mainland is estimated at 17 million Euros (22 million USD).
- Expansion of the tourism sector to up to 40,000 tourists a year will increase the tourism value up to 6 million USD in the short run, but will lower the TEV from 25.2 million to 17.8 million USD per year. The tourists will impact the natural environment rather severely. Local residents will be left with the degraded nature, while tourists will spend their holiday somewhere else. Slowly expanding the tourism sector is suggested, while tracking the impacts on the environment by monitoring closely.
- With the current pressure on ecosystem services of St Eustatius and without any additional management, the TEV of the natural environment will decrease from 25.2 million USD today to around 20.2 million USD annually within 30 years.
- Roaming animals are seen as a nuisance, but not every Statian knows that they also have a negative impact on the terrestrial and marine environments. Management of these animals will improve the natural environment of St Eustatius in a cost efficient way and opens up the possibility to agricultural practices.
- When managing free roaming animals is combined with moderate expansion of tourism, nature will be more resilient and can withstand more tourists without degradation of the natural environment.
- With a well-considered growth of the tourism industry and the development of agriculture, the SDP can be realized. Statians will enjoy a higher level of prosperity by maximizing the benefits from ecosystem services while they experience a livable, natural environment.
This Initiative draws attention to the economic benefits of biodiversity and highlights the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation. Insight in the value of ecosystems and biodiversity can support decision makers to make wise and inclusive decisions for long-term sustainable economic development.
Information on the Total Economic Value (TEV) of Bonaire’s nature is used to build a strategy to advocate for the effective conservation measures on Bonaire. The TEV is the sum of the ecosystem services provided by the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Bonaire. In total, more than 10 different services have been valued on monetary terms. The most relevant services that were estimated in extensive sub-studies include the following:
- Local cultural and recreational values
- International tourism value
- Fisheries values
- Non-use value
- Coastal protection value
- Functional Valuation of Ecosystem Services on Bonaire
Through the use of simulation models, scenario development and cost & benefit analysis the efficacy of various interventions is determined. Cost-benefit analysis of different scenarios provides an objective means of deciding which interventions produces the highest yield. Such an integral approach ultimately ensures the betterment of Bonaire’s environment while at the same time warranting sustainable economic development.
The ecosystems of the island of Bonaire support a range of activities that depend on the quality of the natural environment. Tourism is one of these activities and it represents an important source of income for the local economy. Tourism in Bonaire can be divided in stay-over tourism and cruise tourism. Whether further development of cruise tourism is desirable for Bonaire is constantly under discussion. It is thought that more cruise tourists will contribute to economic growth. But, at the same time, there is a fear that an increase in the number of cruise tourists and the investments in infrastructure and other facilities to facilitate this growth will put extra pressure on the ecosystems. And these are the same ecosystems that are vital in attracting not only cruise tourists, but also stay-over tourists.
This study aims at providing quantitative and qualitative information on the potential benefits and negative effects of an expansion of the cruise tourism industry on Bonaire. For this purpose, a socio-economic valuation was first conducted to understand the cruise tourism industry in Bonaire. This resulted in insights that include tourist’s expenditures, the different actors on the island that benefit from these expenditures, the dependency of certain sectors on tourism related revenues and the attitude of tourists towards certain social and environmental changes in the island. This information is derived from tourist surveys, a business survey and literature review.
Second, with the information gathered, and making use of an economic Input-Output model for Bonaire that is linked to an ecologic model, three different cruise tourism growth scenarios were analysed: a baseline scenario, a moderate growth scenario and a rapid growth scenario. This analysis resulted in the calculation of economic benefits that would result from an increase in the number of cruise tourists in each scenario. At the same time, using the ecologic module that is linked to the economic Input-Output model, the socio-environmental impact on a number of natural indicators was also assessed. Certain environmental effects of cruise tourism, like waste production, water consumption and the ecologic footprint of cruise ships, could not be included in the ecologic module and were, therefore, assessed separately from the model.
The surveys conducted amongst tourists have shown the importance of maintaining a healthy reef and the tranquillity on the island. Especially stay-over tourists indicated that they are not willing to return to a more crowded island or an island with a degraded coral reef. Both the survey and the scenario analysis indicate that sectors that benefit the most from the growth of the cruise industry are the transport, restaurant, ‘other services’ (which include tour operators) and trade sectors.
The scenario analysis further indicates that an increase in cruise tourism will generate a growth in GDP within the period of the analysis (until 2024). While the economy grows as a whole, more jobs will be generated. However, given the seasonal character of cruise tourism and the sectors that benefit the most from it, most of the jobs created appear to be in lower income categories. As a result of potential population growth to fill in these new jobs, household consumption and GDP per capita do not increase as much as the GDP growth might suggest. Household consumption at the end of the analysis period (2024) is only $234 higher in the rapid growth scenario compared to the baseline scenario.
The economic growth caused by cruise tourism expansion also results in socio-environmental impacts, as higher number of visitors will increase direct pressures on the ecosystems that are visited. The main impacts that have been analysed are change in land use, decrease in coral cover, water consumption and waste generation and the potential decrease of stay-over tourists as a result of coral reef degradation and more built-up land.
However, not all potential socio-environmental impacts could be included in the scenario analysis. If cruise tourism industry is to expand even further, Bonaire must expand its infrastructure. This means that investments need to be made to accommodate larger amounts of tourists. The scenario analysis does not take into account the impact of these potential infrastructure projects like additional port infrastructure, proper waste management system, water management, more roads and more ground transportation. It was also not possible to assess the effects on the environment and the return rate of stay-over tourists caused by crowding in specific areas and on peak moments.
The results of the study demonstrate that there are external effects related to the expansion of cruise tourism. For example, a decrease in stay-over tourists as a result of rapid growth of the cruise tourism industry may have significant implications for the hotel industry. To make decisions regarding cruise tourism expansion, such external effects should be taken into account. Furthermore, investing on an environmental friendly expansion and the enforcement of environmental regulations will also be of high importance to avoid endangering the ecosystems and, thereby, the tourism industry as a whole. More research on the local impacts of cruise tourism and the effects on the stay-over sector are necessary to draw conclusions on the desirability of the expansion of cruise tourism for the island.
Healthy ecosystems such as the corals reefs and the forests on the hillsides of Boven and the Quill are critical to the society of St Eustatius. The St Eustatius Strategic Development Plan also acknowledges the importance of natural attractions for the expansion of the tourism sector. In the last decades, various local and global developments have resulted in serious threats to these fragile ecosystems, thereby jeopardizing the foundations of the island’s economy. It is crucial to understand how nature contributes to the economy and wellbeing to make well-founded decisions that affect the natural environment on this beautiful tropical island. This research aims to determine the economic value of the main ecosystem services that are provided by the natural resources of St Eustatius and their overall importance to society.
The challenge of this project is to deliver insight that supports decision-makers
in the long-term management of the island’s economy and natural environment.
This study is part of the project “What is Saba’s Nature Worth?” The project is part of the encompassing project The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity Caribbean Netherlands. The key message of TEEB is that the economic value of nature plays an important role in determining the natural capital on the island.
Saban people are proud of their ‘Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean’ with its lush mountain rainforest and stunning underwater world. This study aims to determine the economic value of the ecosystem services that are provided by the natural resources of Saba and their overall importance to society. It demonstrates how nature contributes to Saba’s economy and wellbeing. This information can be used to make well-founded decisions when managing the economy and nature of this ‘Unspoiled Queen’.
From the onset of the study, stakeholders participated by facilitating data and simultaneously creating support for the concept of valuing ecosystem services on the island. The research addresses the most relevant ecosystems and ecosystem services for Saba and applies a range of economic valuation and evaluation tools. By surveying over a 1,000 people including tourists, local residents, and citizens of the mainland of the Netherlands, this study estimated the willingness of individuals to pay for the protection of the natural environment of Saba. The data of the economic evaluation and the surveys was used as input for analysis of the different scenarios.
In the scenario analysis 8 different ecosystem services have been valued in monetary terms. The total economic value (TEV) of the ecosystem services provided by the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Saba is calculated to be 28.4 million USD per year. This TEV and its underlying components can be used to build a strategy for effective conservation measures and sustainable development on Saba. This study made use of a dynamic model to recreate the current situation on the island and to give insight in possible future scenarios or management options. Three scenarios were developed in close cooperation with local experts and stakeholders: 1) A baseline scenario 2) Management of roaming goats, and 3) Tourism expansion.
If no new management actions are set in motion and the environment is left to fend for itself it will slowly deteriorate. This will result in a decrease of the TEV to a final value of 21.8 million USD. The scenario in which an increase in the number of tourists analyzed, results in a TEV of 23.8 million USD. However such an uncontrolled increase in number of tourist can have deleterious effects on the natural environment of Saba. Tourists visit the island for its tranquility and unspoiled natural landscape and marine environment. Without these assets, Saba will cease to be the attractive destination that it currently is and these tourists will not return to the island. Sustainable development combined with increased investments in natural capital will pay off in the long run. It is stated that it will be more costly to restore an ecosystem than to maintain a healthy one. The scenario in which free roaming goats are controlled, will improve the natural environment and this management option results in a TEV of 29 million USD, moreover, this scenario will keep Saba the ‘Unspoiled Queen’. In combination with a limited growth of the tourism sector Saba can economically benefit from what its nature has to offer.