his thesis is part of the project ‘What is Saba’s nature worth?’ a collaboration between the IVM, VU University Amsterdam and Wolfs Company. The aim of this study is to value the nature of Saba, a small Dutch Caribbean island. This small island faces a number of threats, which can harm the environment. Saba is home to unique ecosystems and its inhabitants have a strong link with their natural environment. The scope of this research is to determine the recreational and cultural value of this natural environment on the island to its residents with the use of economic valuation methods. Saban inhabitants were interviewed, during a household survey, on how much they are willing to pay for nature management on their island. The willingness to pay was determined by a choice experiment conducted as part of the household survey. With the choice experiment, the annual willingness to pay (WTP) per household for additional environmental management can be determined. The analysis shows that more than half of the respondents on Saba are prepared to pay for nature management on the island. The total WTP per year of all Saban residents for additional environmental management is 143,201 USD. This WTP is attributable to the different aspects that are considered in the experiment: the coastal waters, the natural landscape on the island, the Saba Bank and the management of free-roaming goats on the island. All aspects are valued positively by Saban households. The research furthermore creates insight in the perception of Saban residents on the natural environment on their island.
Tourism is an important source of income for most Small Island Developing States (SIDS), including Saba. This study aims to value the services provided by nature to the tourism industry on Saba. The natural landscape, the coastal waters, the tranquillity and friendly local people are highly appreciated by tourists that visit the island. Healthy ecosystems are therefore crucial to the island. Human activities like development in the tourism industry are relevant to facilitate development of the island, on the other hand, have an impact on the natural environment. In order to fully understand this paradoxical relationship, the economic value of the cultural and recreational ecosystem services to tourists and the economic contribution of nature to the tourism sector on Saba are determined. Transparency about these values and the beneficiaries of ecosystem services can support the local and national government and other stakeholders in decision-making processes.
These values are retrieved using a Choice Modelling method. During six weeks, a total of 390 visitors on Saba and Statia have been interviewed. 200 of these respondents were interviewed during their stay on Saba. With the use of a choice experiment, the willingness to pay (WTP) of tourists for the maintenance or improvement of nature and other island aspects is determined. The results also show the preferences of tourists concerning the different ecosystems and other island aspects. Characteristics, expenditures and perceptions about Saban nature of visitors are retrieved through the complementary survey.
This study also made clear that next to ecosystem-based activities, tourists highly appreciate other island aspects such as the tranquillity, the friendly local people and visiting archaeological heritage. These aspects are part of the attractiveness of the islands and should be taken into account when growth in the tourism sector is desired. The total revenue by the tourism industry of Saba is estimated to be almost 6 million USD per year. The results from the survey demonstrate that tourists are willing to pay an additional amount of 1.6 million USD for extra nature conservation efforts on the island.
St Eustatius, is a small island in the Caribbean and a special municipality of the Netherlands. As many other small islands, St Eustatius’ marine and terrestrial ecosystems are vulnerable to external disturbances, such as natural disasters but also pressures from human behaviour. Multiple stresses can lead to degradation of ecosystems, if these are not able to recover until the next disturbance. As ecosystems provide benefits to people, so called ecosystem services, the value of these services decreases, as the ecosystem degrades. Economic valuation of ecosystem services identifies the costs and benefits of human interaction with nature, e.g. construction, and helps to develop long-term development strategies that take ecosystem services into account. This research is evaluating the local recreational and cultural services that ecosystems on St Eustatius provide to their residents and their value to the inhabitants, as part of a larger study on the total economic value (TEV) of the island’s natural environment. To this end, a household survey with an embedded choice experiment is used. The results of the survey show that: (1) Half of the population has a general willingness to pay (WTP) for nature management; (2) the biggest perceived threats to the environment are oil spills, solid waste and invasive species; and (3) that the people of St Eustatius want see livestock on the island fenced and archaeology managed. The total aggregated annual WTP of all households on St Eustatius for the conservation of terrestrial land is 29,000 USD and for the marine ecosystems 65,000 USD. Residents of St Eustatius are willing to pay 41,000 USD for the management of archaeological heritage. An interesting result is that the people are keen on managing the roaming livestock by contributing additionally 64,000 USD on an annual basis.
This study aims to value the services provided by nature to tourists on St Eustatius. The natural landscape, the coastal waters, the tranquillity and rich historical heritage are highly appreciated by tourists that visit the island. For most Small Island Developing States (SIDS), such as St Eustatius tourism is one of the main sources of income. Healthy ecosystems are therefore crucial to the island. However, human development (including tourism) puts pressure on the same natural environment. In order to fully understand this paradoxical relationship, the economic value of the cultural and recreational ecosystem services to tourists and the economic contribution of nature to the tourism sector on St Eustatius are determined. Transparency about these values and the beneficiaries of ecosystem services can support the local and national government and other stakeholders in decision-making processes.
These values are retrieved using a choice modelling method. During six weeks, a total of 390 foreign visitors on Saba and St Eustatius have been interviewed. 190 of these respondents were interviewed on St Eustatius. With the use of a choice experiment, the willingness to pay (WTP) of tourists for the maintenance or improvement of nature and other island aspects is determined. The results also show the preferences of tourists concerning the different ecosystems and other island aspects. Characteristics, expenditures and perceptions about the natural environment of St Eustatius by visitors are retrieved through the complementary survey.
This study also reveals that next to nature-based activities, tourists highly appreciate island aspects such as the tranquillity, the friendly local people and admiring archaeological heritage. These aspects are part of the attractiveness of the island and should be taken into account when growth in the tourism sector is desired. The value of the natural environment for the tourism industry of St Eustatius is estimated to be almost 3 million USD per annum and tourists are willing to pay an annual 120,000 USD to increase the management of the archaeological heritage on the island.
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.
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.
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.
This report will specifically focus on the spatial distribution of the ecosystem service values and will eventually visualize these values geographically in a total economic value map. The total economic value (TEV) of the ecosystems of St Eustatius is the sum of five different and mutually exclusive economic values. All these values have been previously studied and are published in different reports (Cado van der Lely et al. 2014; Fenkl et al. 2014; Van de Kerkhof et al. 2014). In this report we will merely visualize these values geographically and develop the TEV map. The TEV map will then be used to assess whether current spatial planning covers those ecosystems which are most valuable to the economy of St Eustatius.
When the spatial allocation of the economic value of ecosystems is compared to current spatial policies, the main conclusion is that existing boundaries for nature conservation appear to be on the right place. This however does not imply that policy is currently sufficient to conserve nature’s value since we have done no qualitative assessment of actual management. Moreover some very valuable areas of both terrestrial and marine environment are placed outside protective areas.
According to the spatial analyses of the values of St Eustatius’ ecosystems we have formulated the following three recommendations:
• Current protective zoning designations, both marine and terrestrial, are located in such a way that they protect the most valuable natural assets of St Eustatius. It is therefore vital that these zonings and regulations are strictly enforced to maintain the economic value of the ecosystems.
• One area along the slopes of the Quill Volcano could be reassessed for its zoning. According to our analysis this area encompasses some vital ecosystems and construction on this area could be further limited. We therefore recommend further research into this area and presumably a different zoning designation.
• The anchorage zone for NuStar could be reassessment reassessed since it is coinciding with a very valuable part of the coral reef. We recommend to investigate whether it would be possible to locate the anchorage zone further away from valuable coral.
This report will specifically focus on the spatial distribution of the ecosystem values and eventually visualize these values geographically in a total economic value map. The total economic value (TEV) of the ecosystems of Saba is the sum of several different and mutually exclusive economic values. All these values have been previously studied and are published in different reports (Cado van der Lely et al. 2014; Dekker et al. 2014; Van de Kerkhof et al. 2014). In this report we will merely visualize these values geographically and add up the values to create the TEV map. The TEV map will then be used to assess whether current spatial planning covers those ecosystems which are most valuable to the economy of Saba.
The TEV map has clearly demonstrated that for the marine and the terrestrial ecosystems of Saba, the economic value is highly concentrated on relatively small areas. On the island the economic value is mostly concentrated on the slopes of Mount Scenery. This value can for a large part be attributed to what tourist spend and are willing to pay for a vacation enjoying the natural beauty of trails around Mount Scenery. The marine value can almost solely be attributed to the coral reefs of the coastal waters of Saba.
Although, there are several policies in place to manage the areas with high economic value on the terrestrial grounds of Saba, there is no authority that is in charge and responsible for the conservation of certain economically valuable natural areas. To guarantee the sustainability of the concentrated economic value on Mount Scenery, the management of this area could be more sufficiently embedded within the institutional framework of local spatial policy.
The current zoning of the Saba marine park is concurrent with the spatial distribution of economic value. However, some reefs which add a significant value to the economy of Saba are located within the less protective zoning of ‘Multipurpose’. A light alteration to the zoning including this area in the ‘no take’ zoning could provide optimal protection of the coral reef and thus retain the economic value of the marine park.
Map (GIS) showing the economic values of marine ecosystems on Saba for:
- Carbon sequestration
- Cultural and local recreational value
See this report for more information
For illustration, the excerpt below shows the carbon sequestration: