Sustainability of Wild Plant Extraction on the Dutch Caribbean Island Sint Eustatius
- An often overlooked mechanism driving local extinction or scarcity of species is the selective plant extraction by humans. Not much scientific attention has been paid to selective plant harvesting and the use of plants by inhabitants of the former Dutch Antilles. The aim of this study was to make a rapid sustainability assessment of wild plant harvesting on Sint Eustatius. A quantitative plot inventory was done to gather abundancy data on plants in the wild, and 31 interviews were conducted to collect information on local names, plant uses, preparation methods and harvesting locations. In total, 181 plant species belonging to 63 different plant families were mentioned as useful by the inhabitants of Sint Eustatius. Of these species, 66 were harvested exclusively from wild sources. Several wild species were cultivated in gardens. We found four wild-harvested species (Melocactus intortus, Nectandra coriacea, Pilosocereus royenii and Chiococca alba) that may encounter sustainability problems in the future, or might experience them already. From our study we can conclude that for the majority of useful species on Sint Eustatius, plant extraction does not form an immediate threat to their survival.