What’s Bonaire’s Nature Worth? (Policy Brief)
Healthy ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangroves are critical to Bonairean society. In the last decades, various local and global developments have resulted in serious threats to these fragile ecosystems of Bonaire, thereby jeopardizing the foundations of the island’s economy. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how nature contributes to Bonaire’s economy and its wellbeing in order to make well-founded decisions when managing the economy and nature of this beautiful tropical island. This research aims to determine the economic value of the main ecosystem services that are provided by the natural resources of Bonaire and their overall importance to society. The challenge of this project is to deliver sound scientific insights that will guide decision-making regarding the protection of Bonaire’s ecosystems and the management of the island’s economy.
By assigning economic values to the main ecosystem services of Bonaire, this research draws attention to the economic benefits of biodiversity and highlights the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation. The study addresses the most relevant ecosystems and ecosystem services for Bonaire and applies a range of economic valuation and evaluation tools. By surveying over 1,500 persons, including tourists, fishermen, local residents, and citizens of the Netherlands, this study estimated the willingness of individuals to pay for the protection of Bonairean nature, as well as mechanisms (e.g. user fees) through which such payments would be transferred. Furthermore, a scenario analysis is conducted to inform decision makers about the most effective strategies to protect the ecosystems of Bonaire. This study intensively involved stakeholders from the start to finish, which facilitated data collection while simultaneously building capacity in applying the concept of ecosystem services among the target audience.