Recreational and cultural value of Bonaire’s nature to its inhabitants

The global environment is in a relatively bad state and there is growing awareness of its importance to human wellbeing. This study aims to shed light on a corner of this importance. Although a corner its affects to human wellbeing is great. What if the entities one culturally identifies with should begin to deteriorate or very plausibly disappear? In the spirit of learning and providing innovation to current environmental policy practices, it is the objective of this study to determine the recreational and cultural value that the marine and terrestrial environment of Bonaire provides to its residents. The later in order to improve decision making on conservation efforts on the island by internalizing externalities in policies that affect the environment and its ecosystems. This was done through use of the environmental economics technique of choice modelling, which consists of a choice experiment as well as a supporting structured survey. Choice modelling determines the WTP (willingness to pay) to conserve nature. The results of this study suggest a yearly WTP by all households on Bonaire to improve the overall natural environments state from poor to moderate to be approximately $2,9 million USD and from poor to high as much as $3,9 million USD. However from the supporting background questions it was also concluded that a widely employed PES system (Payment for Ecosystem Services) would not succeed with- out learning taking place. There should be dialogue on the one hand and on account- ability (locals or tourists?) and on the other hand on the need for environmental management itself. In addition to this the most important perceived threats were found to be waste (solid and liquid) and coastal development. To sum up the study shed light on the tension that exists between tourism which residents economically depend on and the effect expanding tourism has on the nature of Bonaire. An impor- tant conclusion is that restriction of coastal and inland development is supported by locals as well as better waste management and goat management. Policy makers should take this document into account since it expresses the concerns and desires of the local population as regards to policies affecting the environment. 

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