Harmful invasive alien species (IAS) in the Caribbean Netherlands
Following climate change, IAS are recognised as the second-most serious long-term threat to island ecology, worldwide. Of all IAS issues, by far the most serious is the problem of roaming livestock. On most islands this concerns the eubiquitous domestic goat.
In addition to major inventories of invasive species (see the first 4 reports below) and the development of a joint strategy, as part of the Wageningen BO research program, IMARES has also led the way to several pilot-scale interventions, in close cooperation with island partners. Current studies include work to document the positive effect of feral cat control on survival of endangered ground-nesting seabirds in Saba, control and eradication of the Giant African Landsnail on Statia and control of goat grazing inside the Washington Slagbaai park in Bonaire. Within the European Netherlands, IAS are also recognized as a key scourge to both nature and economy and in 2015 stringent new legislation was implemented not only in the Netherlands, but throughout the EU. See below, for a full listing of IMARES recent work in this area of concern.
The problem of roaming livestock is particularly acute in the Caribbean Netherlands. It is a major impediment to agricultural development and nature conservation on St. Eustatius, as it also typically is on other islands in the region. In support of a government-led culling program, we here conducted a baseline study of livestock abundance and distribution on the island in the final quarter of 2013. In doing so we provide the first quantitative assessment of livestock densities ever in the Dutch Caribbean.