Plan land and water: Nature and environment plan Caribbean Netherlands 2020-2030
The Caribbean Netherlands consists of three islands: Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, all located in the Caribbean Sea. Since 2010 each island is part of the Netherlands, considered as a public entity. Bonaire is the largest island by size and population with 20,104 permanent residents, while 3,138 people live on St Eustatius and approximately 1,915 on Saba, at the time of writing.
The Caribbean Netherlands is home to a wealth of natural resources, providing many ecological, cultural and economic services to the local population as well as regionally and globally. Nature-based tourism on the Caribbean Netherlands is not limited to marine activities such as snorkelling and diving but also extends to the appreciation of the terrestrial landscape of all three islands. Beautiful and unique features of the islands include the ‘Saba Bank’, one of the largest atolls in the world, located just a few miles from the coast of Saba, the ‘Elfin Forest’ and rainforest on top of Mt Scenery on Saba. The ‘Quill’, a dormant volcano on St. Eustatius with rainforest inhabiting its crater, and the pristine coral reefs around Bonaire, considered one of the most beautiful and healthy coral reefs of the Caribbean are all popular natural areas deserving of effective conservation. Regionally and globally the ecosystems are also of great importance. On all three islands the coastal waters and their reefs are within marine protected areas, which are internationally recognized. A high percentage of the terrestrial environment is also protected, for example as national parks, or the four wetland areas on Bonaire that are protected under the Ramsar convention. In addition, Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) under the EU Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in overseas Territories and regions (BEST) initiative have been identified on each of the islands. See Annex 5 for an overview of protected areas.
The well-being and prosperity of the islands and their residents is highly dependent on the quality of its natural environment. The socio-economic, cultural and ecological contexts of Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius are unique, but they share similar challenges in varying degrees. Where the impacts of extreme weather events such as storms and hurricanes are much more pronounced on Saba and Sint Eustatius, the pressures of population and tourism growth are more deeply felt on Bonaire.
This Nature and Environment Policy Plan (NEPP) brings these shared and specific topics to the table, in order to develop an integrated framework that can be relied upon for the coming decade.