Fragmentation main cause of decline in natural values ​​on Bonaire

Developing Plantation Bolivia would further fragment the entire island of Bonaire. This would completely ignore one of the most important principles of the United Nations with regard to the management of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Namely the principle of caution in the development of small islands to prevent permanent social and other damage to the SIDS.

One would expect from a government that has sustainability in mind that it seriously strives to develop near/in existing residential areas where there is room for more buildings. An additional advantage of this method of development is that it also allows more people to become entrepreneurs by starting a company (in the small and medium-sized business sector) that meets the needs of the residents there. This would also fit better with the philosophy of sustainability (1), and also more with the social leg of sustainable development rather than a secluded enclave of a chosen group based on the getting rich of a small group of people.

Three important consequences for (the nature of) Bonaire as a result of building on Plantation Bolivia:

Fragmentation:The fact that the natural value of the terraced landscape in Central Bonaire is relatively high is because it is relatively less fragmented compared to many other parts of Bonaire. It should be noted, however, that disturbed areas can also be found in the terraced landscape of Central Bonaire (for example at Fontein and more towards Rincon) that are probably caused by grazing and other human activities. Building on Plantation Bolivia will actually contribute to further fragmentation and eliminate the chance of remedying that fragmentation. Fragmentation of nature is seen in international publications as the main cause of deterioration of natural values. Partly due to fragmentation, invasive species have a greater chance, which in turn leads to a reduction in nature functions and value, ultimately resulting in the disappearance of native flora and fauna. It goes without saying that fragmentation in arid regions (2) such as Bonaire, the aforementioned effects are even more problematic.

Freshwater:Also in view of the future increase in the importance of water conservation, Bonaire has a great need for more nature so that there is a better guarantee for sufficient freshwater penetration into the soil after rain. In that context, too, preserving Plantation Bolivia as a nature reserve is of great importance. It is expected that in time in the southern Caribbean it will rain less, but then in downpours. Bonaire has many areas that suffer from the influence of saltwater (the whole area of Cargill, Goto Lake, the saliñas in the WSNP, GOTO Lake, Lagun, Lac).

Trees:Finally, trees are seen as the last straw in the climate crisis. Planting trees alone will not compensate for all the trees we lose. That’s because the trees we lose are decades (sometimes centuries!) old. They are large and mature. They contain large amounts of carbon in their trunk, branches, leaves and roots. They’ve built up that storage over decades, absorbing a little more carbon each year and growing a little more each year, further increasing their capacity. In this context, planting trees can only serve as an additional strategy for preserving contiguous natural areas in which higher vegetation can be found.

According to the British Royal Society, new forests take at least 10 years to reach their maximum storage rate — the point at which they can absorb the most amount of carbon from the atmosphere each year. They continue to do this until the trees are fully grown, which will happen after about 20 to 100 years, depending on the species. It is also relevant that tree species often grow (very) slowly in our dry climate.

According to research, as much as 30 times more land is needed for reforestation to achieve the same result of climate mitigation as leaving mature trees. For every tree felled, at least 30must be replanted to generate the same climate mitigation result as avoided deforestation in the first place. (3)

“Planting trees is a great thing to do, but [it] won’t make much of a difference for the next two or three decades because small trees just don’t store much carbon. Preserving and growing existing natural forests is essential to any climate goal we have.” Prof. dr. William R. Moomaw (lead author for five scientific reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC; a body of the United Nations)

This means that it is even more important to protect the existing tropical dry forest such as on Plantation Bolivia. Moreover, these types of forests are regarded in scientific publications as one of the regionally and internationally most threatened ecosystems (4).

Protection of Plantation Bolivia, and therefore nature on all of Bonaire, can be done easily:

DON’T: build 2,100 houses, 5 ecolodges and 5 agricultural areas, etc. on Plantation Bolivia (there are plenty of other good places for this on Bonaire)

DO: drastically reduce the number of grazers and restore dams.

So that nature can restore itself.

(1) 4 pillars of sustainability: (1) economy, (2) nature and environment, (3) culture and (4) social
(2) area where (long-term) precipitation is on average less than 500 mm per year
(3) Natural climate solutions, Bronson W. Griscom et al. (2017)
(4) A global overview of the conservation status of tropical dry forests, L. Miles et al. (2006)