The recreational and cultural value of nature on Saba (policy brief)

Policy Brief


The Challenge
Local people call Saba ‘The Unspoiled Queen’, showing how proud Saban residents are of their history and the ‘unspoiled’ nature of the Caribbean island. However, many human induced pressures such as construction, solid waste and invasive species threaten the resilience of the ecosystems of the island. It is important
to understand how the people of Saba benefit from nature in order to support decision-makers in sustainable development.

The Approach
By researching the Willingnes-To-Pay (WTP) for nature conservation by Saban residents, the benefit that local people derive from their natural resources is quantified. A survey was conducted to determine the value households attribute to the protection of nature on their island. Around 300 households on Saba participated in this valuation survey, and respondents reflected on various issues such as the main threats to nature, the benefits that the natural environment brings, and their usage of the local ecosystems.

Results & Recommendations
The WTP of the total population of 900 households to maintain the quality of marine and terrestrial ecosystems is estimated at around US$150,000 per year. Residents identified oil spills, solid waste and erosion as the most severe threats facing the natural environment on Saba. Results of the WTP analysis demonstrate that nature plays a crucial role for the residents; threats are seen as a communal problem, signalling the solidarity of the Saban community and its culture. People are willing to pay for improved management of the roaming goats for example. They have requested more communication on nature management policies. The study shows that improvement in nature management will benefit the community by contributing to the island’s economy and its cultural identity. 

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