What is Saba’s Nature Worth? (policy brief)
Healthy ecosystems such as the corals reef patches and forests on the characteristic Mount Scenery are critical to the Island of Saba. Local people call Saba ‘The Unspoiled Queen’, showing how proud residents are of their cultural heritage and pristine nature. In the last decades, various local and global developments resulted in serious threats to these fragile ecosystems, thereby jeopardizing the foundations of the island’s economy. To address these threats in an effective manner, it is crucial to understand how nature contributes to the economy and wellbeing 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 Saba and their overall importance to the island’s society. The challenge of this project is to deliver insight that supports decision-makers in the long-term management of the island’s economy and the natural environment.
By assigning economic values to the main ecosystem services of Saba, this study draws attention to the economic benefits of biodiversity and highlights the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation. From the onset of the study, stakeholders participated by facilitating data and simultaneously creating support for the concept of ecosystem services among the target audience. The study applies a range of economic valuation and evaluation tools. By surveying over a 1,000 people including tourists, local residents, and citizens of the Netherlands, this study estimates the willingness to pay of individuals for the protection of nature of Saba. Furthermore, scenario analysis is conducted to inform decision-makers about the most effective strategies to protect the ecosystems of Saba to improve the economy and wellbeing on the island.