Bonaire (Dutch Caribbean)
The island of Bonaire is one of the Dutch special municipalities in the Caribbean and draws on a long history of nature protection. Established in 1979, its National Marine Park protects 2,700 hectares of reefs, seagrasses and mangroves and was one of the first dive destinations to introduce admission fees for scuba divers in 1992. These conservation efforts have resulted that Bonaire has been selected for 21 consecutive years in Scuba Diving magazine as the number one Shore Diving destination in the Caribbean/Atlantic.
Bonaire’s fringing coral reefs are home to virtually every species of hard and soft coral found in the Caribbean.
More than 340 fish species live here, making it one of the healthiest and most bio-diverse reefs in the region.
Lac, the largest semi-enclosed bay in the Dutch Caribbean, is sheltered from pounding seas by a fringing barrier reef. Its seagrass beds are a vital nursery for reef fish and a foraging ground for endangered queen conch and green turtles.
- Because it has been protected since 1979, the quality of the nature tourism product below the surface is outstanding.
- Wind energy is producing a considerable amount of the island’s energy needs; solar energy is momentarily piloted.
- Tourist TV, providing informative short (12min) documentaries about nature, culture and history, is a clever and easily accesible medium to inform, influence behaviour and create awareness among tourists and residents about sustainability aspects.
- Although Bonaire’s cultural heritage is not as protected and celebrated as its natural heritage, some powerfull and inspiring initiatives, events and individuals are contributing to securing the island’s unique features.
Points for improvement:
- Although waste management is on the policy agenda, high volume recycling and adequate processing of residual waste is still to be improved.
- Roaming animals (goats, donkeys) increase the risk of erosion and runoff, threatening to the island’s biodiversity, reef health and climate resilience.
- Tourist enterprises can be more supported to adopt environmental management practices (e.g. regarding waste, water and energy).