Development

Just recently (beginning of 2020) former plantation Bolivia
(east of Bonaire, 10% of its surface) has been sold by the former
Governor of Bonaire to a Dutch developer.

Why develop Bolivia, when there are much better alternatives?

One of the main challenges Bonaire faces today is the protection of nature on land and at sea. Because the local government deems growth necessary there is a lot of pressure to develop the nature areas and coastline for housing and tourism. These nature areas also are the most vulnerable spots and most certainly will be destroyed by development, just before the coast lies an internationally protected coral reef.

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SMB)

To contain this unrestrained growth and destruction of nature in these areas, a Strategical Environmental Assessment (Strategische Milieu Beoordeling (SMB) uptil 2025) has been written. The SMB indicates where development can take place with the least impact on nature. Logically, this is in the villages and areas connected to the villages, because the infrastructure for transport, sewage, water, electricity etc. is already there.

“The SMB contains valuable information that in legal proceedings provide an execellent and powerful rebuttal to parties pursuing developments that will undermine the nature values of Bonaire.”
Mr.drs. M. Lammers en drs J. Barrois authors of SMB Bonaire

Just recently (beginning of 2020) former plantation Bolivia (east of Bonaire, 10% of its surface) has been sold by the former Governor of Bonaire to a Dutch developer.

These nature areas also are the most vulnerable spots and most certainly will be destroyed by development,  just before the coast lies an internationally protected coral reef.

Why?

Why develop Bolivia, when there are much better alternatives? The area is of great importance for the survival of Lora and the bats. There are caves and rare trees and plants present, it is the North-South corridor and the area is part of the characteristic terraces landscape of Bonaire. Besides the disturbance of protected species of birds, sea turtles and marine life there is also serious risk of eutrophication which will result in damage to the coral.

Save plantation Bolivia

We think this site will give you a good impression as to why we have to save Plantation Bolivia.

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Further densification of housing and recreation within existing urban areas has no significant environmental effects.

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"In my opinion the Netherlands has the moral obligation to buy back Bolivia." Bòi Antoin, August 22, 2020

Economic Value of Nature

The sixth National Report of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, (May 2019 WUR, Convention on Biological Diversity) states that research has shown that healthy ecosystems such as coral reefs are critical to small island societies such as Bonaire. To make well-founded decisions it is important to understand how nature contributes to the economy and its wellbeing. This insight and awareness is crucial when managing the economy and nature of Bonaire. An analysis of the economic value of the main ecosystem services of Bonaire found that the total economic value (TEV) of the ecosystem services provided by the marine and terrestrial ecosystems are worth USD 105 million annually for Bonaire.

These studies demonstrated that it is more efficient to prevent extensive environmental damage by tackling current threats than it is to try and revitalize the environment while these threats continue undealt with. With the current threats unmanaged, the TEV of nature on Bonaire will decrease to less than 60% in 10 years time (less than USD 63 million) and less than 40% (less than USD 42 million) in 30 years time.

When it is so clear that nature brings prosperity to our island, why develop Bolivia and therewith destroy nature on the land and in the sea when there are excellent alternative locations for development. We can and are obliged to protected and preserve Bolivia’s nature for now and future generations to bring prosperity to the island instead of letting a few, mainly non locale, people gain profit on short term and with that they destroy the future of our beautiful island.

You can download The sixth National Report of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, (May 2019 WUR, Convention on Biological Diversity) here.

Fragmentation

Habitat loss and fragmentation are the main threats to nature on islands.

Over 100 years ago the French ecologist de Candolle observed that “the breakup of a large landmass into smaller units would necessarily lead to the extinction or local extermination of one or more species and the differential preservation of others” (1).

There is increasing evidence for the negative impacts of urbanization on biodiversity, most directly in the form of habitat loss and fragmentation. Fragmentation experiments—some of the largest and longest-running experiments in ecology—provide clear evidence of strong and typically degrading impacts of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity and ecological processes. A major impact of the expansion of urban areas on native species is on their dispersal through changes in habitat configuration and connectivity.
Urbanization impacts biodiversity and ecosystem services both directly and indirectly.

Direct impacts primarily consist of habitat loss and degradation, altered disturbance regimes, modified soils and other physical transformations caused by the expansion of urban areas. The most obvious direct impact of urbanization on biodiversity is landcover change.

Indirect impacts include changes in water and nutrient availability, increases in abiotic stressors such as air pollution, increases in competition from non-native species (2).

Habitat loss, isolation and changes in microclimate are the main effects of fragmentation at landscape level which causes inbreeding and decreases seed production on plant populations and modify composition of plant communities (3).

Destruction and degradation of natural ecosystems are the primary causes of declines in global biodiversity. Habitat destruction typically leads to fragmentation, the division of habitat into smaller and more isolated fragments separated by a matrix of human-transformed land cover. The loss of area, increase in isolation, and greater exposure to human land uses along fragment edges initiate long-term changes to the structure and function of the remaining fragments (4).

Sources:

  1. Conservation Biology, 1992, Chapter 8 Larry D. Harris and Gilberto Silva-Lopez
  2. The Routledge Handbook of Urbanization and Global Environmental Change, 2016, Chapter 10 Thomas Elmqist, Wayne C. Zipperer and Burak Güneralp
  3. Determinants of land degradation and fragmentation in semiarid vegetation at landscape scale, Yolanda Pueyo, Concepción L. Alados and Olivia Barrantes
  4. Habitat fragmentation and its lasting impact on Earth’s ecosystems, Sciences Advances, March 2015, 24 authors including Nick Haddad, Andrew Gonzalez, Lars Brudvig
Destruction

The Benefits to Prohibiting Development at Plantation Bolivia.

There are myriad reasons why preserving the natural state of historic Plantation Bolivia should be a top priority for both the Bonairian and Dutch governments.

  • Controls over future development (e.g. permits, zoning changes, etc.) rely too heavily on political vagaries. As evidenced in the island’s past, even if a current government denies requests, all it takes is the election of a new government (with politicians favorable – for varying reasons – to the developer) to ensure that previously rejected proposals receive a green light. When land is preserved and development banned (e.g. Klein Bonaire and Washington-Slagbaai), these unique natural resources are protected from ad hoc rule changes.
  • The commencement of heavy construction, such as that which is proposed by the new owner of Plantation Bolivia, inherently generates excessive dust and debris, all of which will follow normal wind patterns and be deposited on the pristine coral reefs along the island’s east coast. This poses unimaginable threat to the aquatic environment, including the collapse of the fragile coral system.
  • As there is no existing sewage system on the east side of Bonaire, the sewage generated from a heavily populated area – such as is proposed in the developer’s plans – will seep into the nearby aquifer and eventually end up in the Caribbean Sea.
  • Historically, Bonaire’s attempts at “eco lodge” projects have failed, leaving behind a trail of trash and debris. One example is the eco lodge project adjacent to Washington Slagbaai park.
  • In a similar vein, the OLB has historically permitted ad hoc changes to the definition of “eco lodges” to include all manner of development that is not aligned with the common concept of anything remotely environmentally friendly. This includes, additional units, use of concrete, buildings taller than 5 meters, and no requisite deposit for clean-up of the project once it exceeds its expected lifetime. One example is the permit for Lagun.
  • Toezicht en Handhaving has a proven track record as being an inefficient and ineffective agency in dealing with the complaints it receives. This is evidenced by the report, Handhaving Natuur- en Milieuwetgeving, Caribisch Nederland, Oktober 2019.

Even one of these reasons is enough to deny the development of Plantation Bolivia. Combined, they show a clear pattern of disregard for the environmental future of Bonaire.

The only way to ensure that the island remains a viable environmental resource for future generations is to prohibit development and allow the area to evolve into a true eco-tourism destination with hiking and biking trails, rest areas, restored Plantation Houses that reflect the island’s history and teach future Bonairians and visitors about the island’s past.

We urge you to take immediate action before it is too late.

 

Zoneplan

Designate Plantation Bolivia as nature!

Plantation Bolivia, an undeveloped area that comprises approximately 10% of Bonaire’s overall landmass, is a wilderness area with adjacent, pristine coral reef. Both are of exceptional conservation value to the island

Bolivia’s central location on the island functions as a land bridge connecting north and south. This area supports the critical biodiversity necessary for the survival of native flora and fauna. The landmass includes a tropical dry forest, one of the world’s most endangered forest ecosystems. This tropical dry forest supports Bonaire’s keystone cactus – an important food source for native lizards, bats and birds, including the endangered Lora, Yellow Shouldered Amazon Parrot. The area is so environmentally important it has already been designated an Important Bird Area (IBA, AN011).

Within Bolivia, there exist dry and wet caves that provide a home and breeding ground for birds, bats and a variety of endemic freshwater crustaceans. Ensuring the tranquility of the caves and surrounding ecosystems is of paramount importance to ensure the continued preservation of the fragile cave fauna.

Bonaire’s relatively unspoiled nature is the magnet that draws tens of thousands of tourists to the island each year. Tourism – of which eco-tourism is a sub-sector – is the lifeblood of Bonaire’s economy and employment.

At the moment, most of the land encompassed by Plantation Bolivia is zoned as “open landscape” – a designation that provides little to no environmental protection.

A Dutch developer is poised to begin construction activities that will permanently and irreparably destroy the fragile ecosystems that have thrived in this area for thousands of years.

Now is the time to compel the governments of both Bonaire and the Netherlands to designate Plantation Bolivia as nature. It is the only way to protect this irreplaceable island treasure.

Lugá Alehá

There are many stories on Bonaire about the area Lugá Alehá (which means ‘remote place’, part of Boliva). What is the real story? Here are the facts.

In 1997 a group of likely minded people formed an association to purchase 305 hectares (750 acres) of remote, rolling land on the windy and uninhabited east side of the island. The group agreed that the prime goal of the development was to preserve forever the natural beauty of the land, “Gate keepers of Bolivia”. The association spent a long time drafting the 40-some restrictions to preserve nature, that ultimately became a permanent part of the individual deeds. There are two dozen lots, the most are about 12 hectares (30 acres) and a few about 5 hectares (12 acres), each owner can actually use a maximum of only 1/3 of the plot. No major trees or cactus can be destroyed, and no clear-cutting is allowed. Lots can never be subdivided, and only a maximum of two houses can be built on the bigger lots. About 20 hectares (50 acres) is held in common as wilderness area and roads.

At the present time, more than twenty years after the start of Lugá Alehá, half of the number of lots are inhabited. It is allowed to place a fence around the buildings with which the residents can protect their immediate surroundings against the hundreds of goats and dozens of donkeys that roam freely on Lugá Alehá. Cyclists and walkers can enter the area, but only residents and their guests can enter it by car. The inhabitants have different backgrounds: some were born on Bonaire, Curaçao, in the United States, in the Middle East or the Netherlands. The residents of Lugá Alehá are “The Gatekeepers of Bolivia” and take action if necessary. For example, in case of illegal mining, charcoal burning, deforestation, quad racing and landing of drugs. Things that still occur elsewhere in Bonaire in sparsely populated areas.

News

Here you will find articles related to nature issues on Bonaire and Bolivia in particular.

Antilliaans Dagblad, June 19, 2022

DE JONGE: GOOD ZONEPLAN AND BETTER EFORCEMENT ON BONAIRE

Antilliaans Dagblad June 19, 2022

From our correspondent

Kralendijk – The fact that investors are increasingly finding Bonaire is good, but it also entails a danger. To ensure that nature and the inhabitants of the island are not compromised, a good Spatial Development Plan (ROB) is essential and enforcement must be improved.

With these words, Minister Hugo de Jonge said goodbye to the island last Friday. Bonaire was the last of the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands (CN) on the list of Alexandra van Huffelen, State Secreatray of Kingdom Relations, and Minister De Jonge for Housing and Spatial Planning.

For De Jonge it was his first visit to the Caribbean and he foundit’great’ to be able to make the trip together with the State Secretary. During the press conference, the minister said thathe hadspoken to all parties on Bonaire, including the residents. “Spatial development and public housing are important topics. A lot is being built on the island at the moment, but too little for its own population,” said De Jonge, who says he is very concerned about the fact that residents are now unable to rent or buy a house “because they don’t have a lotof money.” That is why he wants the construction of social rental housing to be accelerated. “Fundashon Cas Bonairiano is doing very good things but does not have enough capital of its own to borrow money cheaply. To solve this problem in the short term, I have granteda $9 million gift so that more homes can be built soon.

According to De Jonge, the Spatial Development Plan Bonaire (ROB) really needs to be revised and there must be a clear vision with a view to the future. “How many homes should be built and where should they be located, what is the maximum height and how much ground lease will be issued? Then it must be strictly enforced.

Project developers are now given a lot of space to buy and build what they want, and that is usually not for people with modest means,” De Jonge put his finger on the sore spot of many islanders. “I think Bonaire is a beautiful island , but the investments must benefit the inhabitants.”

The minister was unable to say at the moment whether the plan to build 900 and possibly even 1,800 homes on Plantation Bolivia is good and necessary for Bonaire. The estimates of the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) assume around 26,000 inhabitants in 2030 and almost 28,000 in 2050, for which 1,800 homes will have to be built over the next ten years. According to the current ROB, there is enough space for this at the existing location. But De Jonge questions these numbers. “I think there will be a lot more and that a lot more homes are needed. Let’s get the numbers in order first.” He thinks that the plan for Bolivia definitely needs extra elaboration. “Nature needs to be restored and that costs a lot of money. This could be financed with money from the sale of houses.” He emphasized that no irreversible steps have yet been taken and that all options are on the table.

 

Amigoe, February 11, 2022

“Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it”

R. Roders, page 13

This statement by the Spanish-American poet, writer and philosopher George Santayana came to mind when I read the vision of the Breemharen about the development of plantation Bolivia on their website. There they outline their core values for the development of the plantation: ‘nature takes precedence’ and ‘growth while preserving nature and culture’. Big words that are reminiscent of the contents of an advertising brochure, devised by a communication agency. This makes me suspicious, also because a year ago Mrs. Breemhaar suggested in the Telegraaf the idea of turning the plantation into a Davos aan Zee. The recent signing of an agreement in principle by lieutenant governor Rijna and project director Breemhaar is not improving it.

This suspicion is fueled by the countless initiatives of non-Bonairian project developers who have come to Bonaire in recent decades with wonderful plans, but which usually quickly foundered in the implementation and left the island with ruins, ruined landscape and many tens of millions in debt. Three examples that immediately made me think of.*)

The Parker Hotel
The Parker Hotel soap opera began in the 1970s with the creation of the lagoon between Playa and the airport, by blowing up the rocky ground with dynamite and realigning the coastal road. Once that had happened, it turned out that the lender could no longer bear the debt of 30 million US dollars. The lease of the 80 ha was then awarded to the American Robert Parker to build a five-star hotel. Parker would invest $30 million in the project, a Swiss Bank would invest $24 million in it. The Netherlands Antilles stood surety for the 24 million. Unfortunately. In mid-June 1991, the contractor had stopped working and Parker had left, leaving behind more than half a million in personal debts. Only in 2009 had the Netherlands Antilles repaid the guarantee of 24 million dollars to that Swiss bank. That money would have been better spent on education, health care or the road network.

 

Esmeralda ruin
The Esmeralda ruin has been standing at Punt Vierkant in one of the most beautiful places on the island for over 30 years. At the time, the main protagonists in the soap were politicians Ramoncito Booi and Burney El Hage on the one hand, and project developer Sandmann from Amsterdam on the other. After a lot of hassle and the dividing up of the plot to make it possible to build a strip of concrete bunkers right on the coast, the ruins have been on the verge of collapse for three decades. Every time I drive by I wonder who should be responsible for the demolition of the ruin. I’m afraid the answer is: the Public Entity Bonaire, because the other players have disappeared. Or will the new developer who recently signed up bear the costs?

One of the protagonists of the time, Burney El Hage, now promotes the Bolivia project every Saturday through his radio program. I hope that doesn’t cause any accidents.

 

Sabadeco
The owner of the Santa Barbara plantation wanted to monetize his property by developing an un-Bonairean residential area. In order for the project to be successful, he advocated a land exchange with the island, whereby he acquired a 50-metre-wide coastal strip of more than 2 kilometers of domain land. In return, he would build a 9-acre public beach and recreational area and begin a thoroughfare to Rincon. The land exchange took place, to the astonishment of many people. Thirty years later, there are hundreds of expensive villas in Sabadeco, no public beach has been built, the 9 hectare recreational area cannot be found and the promised start of the road to Rincon is no more than a bumpy dirt road.

 

The vision of the Breemharen for the development of plantation Bolivia reminds me strongly of these three initiatives. A few examples. The Breemharen intend to restore the flora by planting native tree species. They even promise to replant three young native trees for every tree that dies as a result of the proposed housing development. They apparently don’t realize that newly planted trees and shrubs need daily water for the first year in order for them to take root.

In order to prevent the new plantations from being directly eaten by goats and donkeys, to allow the restoration of nature to take place and the agricultural initiatives to be successful, they want to work together with the owners of those animals (they are apparently not aware of that the donkeys have no owners) to clear the area from the grazers. Aside from the question of where they get the idea from that they will succeed in what the government of the colony of Curaçao, the governments of the Netherlands Antilles and the Executive Council of Bonaire have not succeeded in the past hundred years, they do not seem to realize that keeping the area free from grazers is an even more difficult task than clearing it. To do this, they will have to put a fence of 24 kilometers around the plantation.

It is also striking that only vague terms are used to talk about housing. According to the Breemharen, close to a thousand houses in the middle segment will be built in the next ten years. I would like to know what amount of money we should think about. I understand from Deputy Den Heyer that we have to think of a cost of around two hundred thousand dollars to meet the needs of the population. Is that also the amount that the Breemharen are thinking of?

The website also mentions the Foundation Save Plantation Bolivia. The Breemharen accuse the people behind it of having the NIMA (not in my backyard) syndrome because they supposedly live in Lugá ​​Alehá. That accusation is inappropriate because those who founded the Foundation do not pursue the private interest but have been fighting for the common good against unnecessary destruction of nature for decades.

George Santayana said something sensible about this too: “In general there is a yawning gap between the facts as they are in reality and what people imagine them to be.”

The Esmeralda ruins, the Parker hotel and Sabadeco are the existing evidence of this. I hold my heart for Bolivia.
*) Thanks to the late Hubert Linkels, Hink-stap-sprongen op Bonaire.
Image credit: Trouw SITE-19-11-15-bonaire-1 Sander Soewargana

The Bonaire Reporter, May 19, 2021

The Bonaire Reporter page 5

Plantation Bolivia is in immediate danger

Recently, a Facebook post asked me to sign a petition to “demand the island government to designate a large swath of tropical dry forest as a much-needed nature and recreation park”. The land in question encompasses approximately 27.5 hectares which support a variety of plants and animals including protected birds, bats and reptiles. It is located in the area of Kaya Amsterdam and Kaminda Djabou. The remarks about the importance of the petition close with it being an “unique opportunity to enhance the island’s nature-friendly image by preserving this beautiful area of land and aquatic nature….”.

I plan on signing the petition because I think that conserving land from thoughtless development is a good thing but frankly, I don’t see any urgency here. Putting it another way, it would be great to have this “green zone” in the city environs, but the petition speaks of no immediate need. Nothing in the request mentions that the government has put the land up for sale nor that it has already been sold to a developer who has a plan to that will destroy the unique tropical dry forest or destroy the environment that provides habitat for the various flora and fauna some of which are endangered.

Yet, there is an urgent situation on the island that does demand immediate island support. Like the land at issue in the petition, Plantation Bolivia, also contains an unique dry tropical forest and, is home to countless birds, bats and reptiles including several endangered species. Plantation Bolivia also happens to encompass 3,000 hectares, 100 times the land mass which is the subject of the current petition. Further, its 14-kilometer coastline is adjacent to a pristine coral reef seldom dived due to the difficulty in entering the water. It also has treasured structures of cultural and historical significance. Is it strange, that despite similar petition efforts, Plantation Bolivia isn’t getting the attention it needs?

Yet, unlike the parcel of land, which is the subject of the recent petition, Plantation Bolivia is in immediate danger. A developer has bought the land and plans to development it with features such as a golf course, a hotel and 1,500 houses. He has already broken ground without the requisite permits. This activity alone is harmful as it results in land erosion as well as removes habitat for the existing species. The fact that some of the developer’s initial activity is within 25 meters to the sea is also a violation of the law. Yet, in neither instance is the Government particularly concerned. In fact, it has turned a blind eye and done nothing to enforce the regulations covering these activities.

There are close to 1,000 signatures on the petition to protect Bonaire’s “town” dry forest yet less than 500 on the Plan- tation Bolivia petition concerning a dramatically larger dry forest that is in im- mediate jeopardy.

What gives? I can only guess.

Perhaps it is a question of “out of sight, out of mind” or the fact that people cannot comprehend how the massive development of a “remote” parcel of land which people don’t use or see on a dai- ly basis could have such an enormously adverse effect on the island. Or maybe, it has something to do with the fact that people don’t want to “rock the boat”. With development come jobs and we could sure use some. Yet, there are many more suitable places on the island for development. There is land adjacent to areas that are already under development or are planned for development which would not put Bonaire at risk. Yes, the entire island at risk. No, not to- day but also in the not-so-distant future. Maybe not during our lifetimes but in the lifetimes of our (grand)children.

I am not being dramatic. The loss of species’ habitat and biodiversity that Plantation Bolivia provides will, in time, seriously adversely affect the entire island. “Fragmentation” is the biggest threat to nature on any island. Development of Plantation Bolivia would result in the loss of the natural corridor connecting the North and South of the island. Development would also reduce, or worse, eliminate the existing bat and/ or Lora population, the cacti at Plantation would languish or worse, die. The resulting soil erosion would have a direct adverse effect on the Bonaire’s sustainability.

Look at the big picture. Yes, let’s save 27.5 hectares in the environs of Playa, AND, at the same time, let’s save 3.000 hectares of Plantation Bolivia’s wilderness to ensure that Bonaire, as we know and treasure it, is here for our (grand) children and other descendants. Please go to saveplantationbolivia.com. There you can read more about the imminent consequential danger to Bonaire if Plantation Bolivia is developed. And please sign the petition found there.

Ann Joseph

The Bonaire Reporter, March 10, 2021

Bolivia, a gift for Breemhaar?

More than 50 years ago, the Amigoe published an impassioned plea by the then 22-year-old Jopie Abraham under the heading “Host gets Bonaire as a gift”. Abraham showed in his letter to the editor that the contract that Bonaire was planning to conclude with the American project developer Host would be very detrimental to Bonaire. Host would lease 560 hectares of land around Lac for sixty years and build a 440-room hotel with many surrounding facilities. Bonaire administrators had made the most absurd commitments under the guise of employment. One of the absurd commitments was that 1.2 million liters of water would be supplied free of charge every day to maintain the 18-hole golf course. At that time all residents of Bonaire together used half a million liters of water a day. Abraham had also discovered that Host was allowed to dig all of Lac’s sand and export it to an arbitrary place on Earth. How absurd can it be?

At the moment there is a threat on Bonaire that will turn out to be much more disastrous and absurd than the threatening development of Lac at the time. Fortunately, the development is not yet as far as fifty years ago. There is no contract yet and there is no amended zoning plan yet. At the moment the plans of the Breemhaar couple from Dronten in the Dutch East Flevoland are still intentions for the development of the former plantation Bolivia. These plans do not concern 560 hectares, but 3,000 (!) hectares, more than 5 times larger than the Lac project of 50 years ago. The couple’s plans send shivers down to any nature lovers’ spine. Bonairean administrators and members of the island council should also feel these shivers, but we also know that they often give in to these kinds of developments because they would involve a lot of employment. And we also know that there is great reverence for the American dollar and the European euro on Bonaire.

In 1970 the entire council of commissioners and a majority of the island council approved the plan. They had overlooked the absurdity. Fortunately, the Governor intervened.

In this article, we will describe and demonstrate the absurdity of developer Breemhaar’s plans for Bolivia. We start with a statement by the couple Breemhaar at the beginning of January this year in the Telegraaf (Dutch newspaper). Mr. Breemhaar says in an interview that Bolivia has been seriously neglected. This claim is complete nonsense. The reality is that since 1868 no one or almost no one has cared about Bolivia. Not looking after nature is different from neglecting it. From time-to-time tourists visit to look at the drawings in Spelonk and there are always a few fishermen on the coast. There were also some cows and horses back in the 1950s and goats graze to this day. The fact that people have not looked after Bolivia does not mean that the area has been neglected. Calling Bolivia neglected is a rhetorical trick. Bolivia has developed and managed to maintain itself as a dry tropical forest without human interference. That is not neglect, but nature development avant la lettre. Finally, man has not interfered with something. This is still possible on Bonaire and is a rarity on a global scale. The only thing left to do now is to get rid of the goats and donkeys. The perspective on this is hopeful because the OLB and the association of goat farmers Kriabon have agreed that the goat farmers will keep their goats behind fences in five years’ time.

The argument that this is a neglected part of Bonaire is therefore utter nonsense. Bolivia is the largest continuous piece of dry tropical forest in the Antilles and therefore very valuable. That is the reality. Everything else is rhetorical.

——-

With a purchase price of 40 cents per square meter, Breemhaar has become the owner of approximately 14 kilometers of coastline. In the meantime, they have started to make access to the plantation more difficult by partially blocking all access roads with diabase and blocks of stone. As a result, almost a diver recently died on the Arawak side because the emergency services can barely enter the area.

Also, at the Arawak side many loaders have driven away full of stones. We don’t know where they went, but what we do know is that some of those rocks were property of the island because they were in the fifty-meter coastal zone.

The couple say they intend to “sustainably develop the heavily neglected Bolivia through nature restoration”. They do not explain what they mean by that, but they do say that they are planning to build a new city in Bolivia. Nobody asked them anything in that direction, they came up with this all by themselves. That city should consist of 1,500 houses in different clusters within an area of ​​245 hectare. For the sake of convenience, the Breemharen forget to mention that a city does not only consist of houses, but also of roads, shops, restaurants and so on. What does the development of a new city have to do with nature restoration? Nothing at all of course! At least 300 ha (that’s 10% of Bolivia) of Bolivia’s dry tropical forest is expected to be replaced by concrete, diabase, crushed stone and asphalt for the development of that new city. That is not nature restoration but nature destruction. It is expected that about 6,000 people will live in that city. That is almost a third of the current number of residents of Bonaire. A year ago, Breemhaar announced that some of the houses will consist of social housing. We haven’t heard from him about that lately. We do hear that he is going to parcel out parts of Bolivia and sell the plots. That has nothing to do with social housing. The Bonaireans will not enjoy the development of that new city, the number of Americans and Dutch on the island will increase further, because they have the dollars and euros that Breemhaar is looking for and with which they can buy the plots. And for the construction of that city, the contractors will probably make large-scale use of the cheap labor from Peru. So that does not benefit residents of Bonaire either.

But it gets worse. Mrs. Breemhaar would like to develop a Davos at Sea in Bolivia for high-end conferences. She means conferences for the super rich.

Some facts. The municipality of Davos in Switzerland is 284 km2, Bonaire is 294 km2. At a first glance you would say similar. The point is that Breemhaar with Bolivia (fortunately) only owns one tenth of Bonaire: 30 km2. Another fact: there are 234 hotels in Davos. Converted, around a hundred hotels would have to be added all over Bonaire to arrive at a comparable number, but because the Breemharen own one-tenth of Bonaire, they would have to build about 23 hotels with facilities in Bolivia. such as tennis courts, golf courses (an 18-hole golf course needs over 50 ha!), swimming pools, restaurants and night clubs to get close to Davos.

I also researched what should be understood by those ‘high-end’ conferences. The first thing I found in Davos is the meetings of the World Economic Forum. I took a closer look and came to a shocking discovery for Bonaire. In 2020, 119 billionaires and 53 heads of state gathered for that conference in Davos, and € 7.5 million was spent on protecting those people. The conference lasted four (!) days. In 2019, more than 200 private aircraft came to Davos for that conference. Can Bonaire International Airport handle such an invasion? And is that a tempting perspective for Blue Destination Bonaire? Any sane person knows that you can flush that Blue Destination down the drain.

Finally, ask yourself again what the actual benefits for Kralendijk entrepreneurs will be from Davos at Sea and those ‘high-end’ conferences. Hardly any of the guests will visit Kralendijk to do, buy or eat something there, because everything is to do, buy and eat in the conference hotels.

We also have to consider the issues of water, electricity and sewerage as matters to be dealt with as a result of the plans. Water is needed for 6,000 people and thousands of hotel guests who will be living there. We hope that a water supply system will be installed, because it is impossible to bring it in with trucks. A short calculation. 1,500 houses with an average of 4 residents are 6,000 residents who each use 125 liters of water per day. That’s 750,000 liters of water per day! In this calculation we even left the hotels, conference centers, tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools out of the calculation. Their guests are very likely to use more than the 125 liters per person per day. If water only has to be supplied by trucks for residents, this means 125 trucks and twice the number of traffic movements per day! Let’s hope this will not be necessary. But then the question arises who will pay for the construction of the water supply system. The Breemharen? I would like to hear them explain that and put that explanation on record. I suspect that they want the island and therefore the Bonairean or Dutch taxpayer to pay for it.

The question then remains where all the wastewater should go. The Breemharen are not easy to be caught out. They have also thought of that: there will be a water management system. What they mean by that they do not explain, and that is quite understandable, because a brief study makes it clear that such a system costs many millions of dollars, cannot be done at all in Bolivia and is doomed to fail. So, it is likely that 1,500 septic tanks will be excavated for the houses. What about those hotels? Is the couple going to build a multi-million-dollar water treatment plant for that?

Let’s also take a look at the electricity, because probably all hotel guests and conference participants want to meet and sleep in cooled rooms. Where the electricity has to come from to keep that going?“Energy comes through sustainable projects” state the Breemharen.It is downright sad that the journalist does not ask what that actually means.Because the question arises: what do they mean by sustainable projects. Windmills and solar panels?How should we look at that in relation to the nature development?Because those parks eat up many, many square kilometers and all those solar panels and windmills not only form visual pollution, the windmills also cost the lives of many birds.Less and less remains of the nature that Breemhaar thinks to develop and manage.

And as icing on the cake the couple plans to build an algae reactor and engage in aquaculture. With an algae reactor you can remove phosphate, nitrate and heavy metals from the seawater.Is that necessary in the water around Bonaire?Also, other applications are possible.At the moment only a small part of this is actually commercially viable.Most products or services are simply not yet profitable.Due to the high costs for the production of algae, only the high-quality applications are currently providing enough money to cover costs.In other words, flights of fancy.

And then aquaculture. What does that mean? Aquaculture involves the cultivation of fish and shellfish in farms in the sea. We know these types of breeding installations from Norwegian waters in Europe. A kind of mega pig stables in the water where the chance of massive disease and death of the animals is considerable. We also point out that the entire sea around our island is a ‘national marine park’ and that the owner of Bolivia does not automatically own the adjacent piece of sea.

Looking at the plans, only one assessment is appropriate; they are absurd and megalomaniac. Their main characteristic is that they are going to fail, that is if they ever get developed at all. There are no permits, and the zone of Bolivia is still ‘open landscape’, but still Breemhaar has started the first development on the Arawak side. Permits had to be applied for, but that did not happen. A strong example is the assertion by the Directorate of Supervision and Enforcement (Toezicht en Handhaving) that the legally established distance to the sea of ​​fifty meters has been respected. You don’t need a measuring tape to determine that this is not the case. Moreover, the work increases the risk of erosion, which is also not permitted by law. So officially nothing is allowed yet, but the work has started. And no one does anything about it. This finding is in line with the findings of the Council for Law Enforcement (Raad voor Rechtshandhaving). The Council states in its report of May 2020 that the enforcement of nature legislation on Bonaire “produces a disappointing picture. There is hardly any enforcement of nature and environmental legislation.” The Council also notes that the special police officers made available especially for the enforcement of nature legislation are hardly used for that purpose. Finally, the Council states “there is only limited cooperation” between the Public Entity (OLB), the nature conservation organizations, the police and the public prosecutor’s office. Could the accusation be phrased even more clearly?

Breemhaar concluded the interview at the beginning of January with the words: “In the worst case, it can always be sold again.”They have already had an offer for double what they paid for the area.The truth comes out.The Breemharen are not concerned with environmental development at all, but with American dollars or European euros.Nothing more and nothing less.Just like all those predecessors on Bonaire with their plans for all those failed hotels, holiday parks, tennis courts, golf courses, shrimp farms, etc., and so on. We e still see the scars in the landscape in many places.Bonaire does not interest them at all.They are concerned with American dollars and preferably European euros!And who will be left with the mess they leave behind?Exactly: the residents of Bonaire.

More than 50 years ago, Abraham warned against a development on the southeast side of the island, we now warn against the northeast side. For a development plan that is more than five times as extensive, in which an entire city, hotels, conference centers, swimming pools, tennis courts and golf courses will be developed, if Breemhaar gets his way. All these things that no one has asked for. Not the executive council, not the island council and not the residents. Only two people think this is necessary. Not to help Bonaire move forward and to develop nature, but only and exclusively to fill their own wallet. They are concerned with hard American dollars and European euros.

The question is, just like 50 years ago, to what extent Bonaire has a responsible administrative apparatus. How great will the damage be if the Bonairean government agrees to these absurd plans and is prepared to drop the ‘open landscape’ destination? Certainly, in this case, it is important that Bonaire has a reliable, solid and capable executive council and island council. With members who are not sensitive to American dollars or European euros but do what they are chosen and called to do: serve and promote the interests of Bonaire in a correct and fair manner and make personal interests subordinate to this.

Abraham ended his letter fifty years ago as follows. “Our generation and the future generation will no doubt curse for their entire lives those who sold their island in such a cheap and insulting way.” Fortunately, the intervention of the Governor at the time prevented his words from becoming reality.

Let the population, the Island Council, the Executive Council and the nature conservation organizations ensure that Abraham’s prediction of that time again does not come true, that the megalomaniac couple returns to the Dutch polder without success and that we can continue to enjoy the “neglected” nature of Bolivia.

Astrid Duyff

The Bonaire Reporter, January 27, 2021

The Bonaire Reporter page 5

Breemharen: Golden Boy? Loradó di man!

There are people on Bonaire, including commissioners and island council members who think they have won a Golden Boy with the Breemharen. After all, The Breemharen are going to revive the former plantation Bolivia. In doing so, they give new life to ten percent of the island’s land area. A Golden Boy can be found. Right?

I’m afraid that anyone who believes this will conclude in a few years that they have bought a pig in a poke. The Breemharen are loradó di man, or hustlers. A loradó di man is someone who gets something done in a easy, not necessarily legal way. The Breemharen have elevated that to an art.

How I came to that conclusion? I will give you a number of examples.

Shortly after acquiring their new property, De Breemharen published a brochure in which they announced their intentions to the public with promotional texts and beautiful photos. It was immediately noticeable that they planned to equip a large area around the lighthouse of Spelonk with solar panels. Few people know that the ground around that lighthouse belongs to the Public Body Bonaire (so it belongs to you and me) and that the Breemharen have to stay away from it with their sticky fingers. The Breemharen probably hoped to get away with it. Or is it just a mistake?

In an even more colorful brochure that followed the first, in which the plans were once again presented to the public but looked very different, a photo of a large pond stood out. People who know the area like the back of their hand immediately saw that the pond does not belong to the Breemharen at all and that that place also did not belong to the former plantation. When asked how that photo ended up in the brochure, one of the Breemharen replied: “Well, a mistake.”

Recently, neighbors of the Breemharen had suddenly lost their pile of diabase. That pile had been there for a while and there were also some agaves on it. What turned out? The Breemharen had taken care of that pile of diabase and partly blocked the entrance to their site on the Lagun side with it. When one of the Breemharen was approached by a neighbor, it led to an aggressive reaction, while apologies and the shoving back of the diabase would have been more appropriate. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a pious hope. Again a mistake.

On the other side of Bolivia, behind Arawak, the Breemharen have put young people from the Bonaire School Community on “restoring the slave wall”. According to De Breemharen and the SGB, this is an internship where youngsters can gain learning and working experience. What exactly are those young people doing there? They place heavy stones by hand (!) on the old remains of the slave wall. These are young people from the Special Teaching Places (SLP) department who receive a special education. What do those young people learn from that internship? Nothing, except how to place a heavy stone on top of another stone by hand (!). De Breemharen call this learning. I call this child labor. Or is that a mistake?

For the restoration of that slave wall, the Breemharen thought that they could use the stones they found on the coast. What they overlooked is that the stones on the first fifty meters from the coast were not theirs but from the OLB. So from you and me. When they were pointed out that these were not their stones, they shrugged. Another mistake.

It is also noticeable that the Breemharen hate to apply for permits for their activities. Of course it is also possible that they do not know they need permits for the work they do. You can decide for yourself what is worse. Two examples.

Houses are currently being built on the cliff above Arawak. The plots were put up for sale over 25 years ago. The road that runs there has been extended by almost 700 meters by the Breemharen without having applied for a permit. That road is therefore illegal.

A permit is also required for the rebuild of the slave wall behind Arawak. De Breemharen also forgot to apply for that permit. Mistakes?

How can this happen? The Breemharen are loradó di man, hustlers. Just do what you think you should and could do, and shrug when you are told that it is not allowed or possible. In some cases they just continue, in other cases they say sorry. And they just continue.

The Bolivia project is a development project, but the Breemharen are not developers. They are loradó di man who do as they see fit and finagle things in the hope that it will turn out well and nobody will notice. I regret to say in this context that the Supervision and Enforcement Service (‘Toezicht en Handhaving’) of the OLB is far too busy to supervise and enforce. That doesn’t bode well for us, residents of Bonaire.

At the moment it is still about preparatory work. I am curious what the nature and extent of the rustle will be when the real work on Bolivia starts and whether they will get away with it on our beautiful Bonaire.

I hold my breath. I hope the commissioners and island councilors too.

René Roders

 

Delfins, January 4, 2021

A great start of the New Year!

Early this morning I had a short meeting with State Secretary for Kingdom Relations, Raymond Knops, about Saving Plantation Bolivia, we will stay in close contact to protect the nature!

Amigoe, June 6, 2020

Landowner of Plantage Bolivia:

‘I should receive a gold medal for this project’

KRALENDIJK – The development of former Plantation Bolivia on Bonaire made headlines this week after State Secretary Knops (CDA) of Kingdom Relations spoke about the much-discussed project after parliamentary questions. The outspoken landowner Meine Breemhaar was unable to make as much progress as had been intended due to the corona virus. He hopes to return to Bonaire soon to continue working on his “paradise on paradise”.

Robert Pastoor, Amigoe June 6, 2020

At the end of December, the entrepreneur from Flevoland bought a piece of land of about 3000 hectares. It was not planned; he came into contact with the seller by accident. “Let me buy it just to have it” was his first thought when he “ran into” the land. With the purchase, he acquired 10% of Bonaire. The previous owner already had plans to develop the land. Breemhaar has adopted those plans. “I roughly adopted the plan. If that plan had not existed, I would still have bought the land”.

That adopted plan includes building 750 to 1,500 rental properties that will receive rents of $ 500 to $ 1,000 a month. These houses are intended for the local population. There is also room for cliff houses and nature is receiving also a lot of attention. “The piece of land has been there for sixty years, as is it is. In all those years nobody talked about it and when I publish a folder with my plan everyone is in an uproar,” says Breemhaar.

He is referring to the specially established interest group that wants to stop his plans. The people who have grouped together even want to wipe the entire project off the table because they believe that it is at the expense of nature. Breemhaar is not impressed at all, he even laughs at it.

“Nothing sensible has been done there for sixty years. Caves have been neglected and it is barren, grubby land. We will realize a paradise there. Bonaire is the paradise, so it becomes a paradise on a paradise. As a resident of Bonaire, you can be happy that someone is going to do this. I think a lot of people will be happy. And well, if a few people are not, then so be it.” He emphasizes that only a small part of the total area will be used for residential construction. “The vast majority of the plans focus on the development of nature, but there are also going to be agricultural developments.” He emphasizes that the project is much more than a real estate project.” It is not a building plan, but a landscape development.

In any case, the multi-millionaire has the support of Nature Deputy James Kroon (UPB); he is behind the plans. In his own words, he has the support of the entire OLB to get started. However, a zoning plan change must be approved. At the moment, according to the local government, Breemhaar is unable to build a stone on his piece of land. “We are a serious party and we keep our promises. We have proven this in the past. We will collaborate with local entrepreneurs and we will also involve consultancies on the island. So, there is a good chance that we will bring a lot of money to the island. If you have good plans and you work them out in good consultation, then that should be fine. We are discussing the plans with serious parties on the island and we take great account of nature and ecology. I therefore think that the plans will simply be realized. The people who shout all kinds of things don’t know exactly what’s going to happen.”

In his own words, he will improve the land compared to now. “We are going to restore nature, realize water supply and develop agriculture.” Breemhaar is firmly convinced that he should receive a gold medal when the plan is finally completed. That’s just going to happen,” he says confidently. “I’m not concerned about the protests that are going on right now. My employees are more bothered by that, by the way. I am a man of strategy and long-term. It is not a plan for two years, but for the next fifteen years. If I still live.”

Interest group: Breemhaar could earn a gold medal
“Our goal is the greatest possible protection and conservation of Bolivia in historical, cultural and ecological aspect. Including the adjacent sea area, says spokesman Bart Snelder on behalf of the interest group Fundashon Preservashon Herensia di Boneiru in response to the words of Meine Breemhaar. “We look forward to a discussion with him. We have not yet spoken to him or his people. There is also no point in responding substantively to the various balloons released. But we agree with Mr. Breemhaar that he could earn a gold medal if he succeeds in realizing the goals of our foundation for Bolivia and identifying them with his own. For the record: it doesn’t have to conflict”

The Daily Herald, June 3, 2020

Worries about plan to develop former plantation in Bonaire

THE HAGUE–The reported plans to develop the former Bolivia Plantation in Bonaire, an important nature area that covers ten per cent of the island, have the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament worried. Through the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations, a series of questions were submitted to Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops on Thursday.

In particular the Democratic D66 Party and the Socialist Party (SP) are very worried about this potential project. D66 asked Knops if he was aware that the former Bolivia Plantation had been bought by a Dutch investor, and whether he knew about the fact that recent scientific publications have rated the extensive property of some 3,000 hectares an area with a great ecological value for flora and fauna. “Are you aware that the public entity Bonaire in the past years had trees replanted on 30 hectares in Bonaire through a Dutch government subsidy and that the possible developing of the Bolivia Plantation will bring the destruction of 3,000 hectares of unique and precious dry tropical forest?” 

D66 wanted to know whether Knops knew about the new owner’s plans to develop the plantation and to construct 1,500 homes and/or to parcel out the property, possibly to be developed by third parties. “Can you indicate these plans against the backdrop of the nature value of this area?” 
D66 further asked Knops to take into account whether the local nature organisations had sufficient authority and influence to exercise their critical role in this project. The party asked him what his possible role would be if the process to adapt Bonaire’s zoning plan to accommodate this project were to start and whether he would see to it that the correct procedure was followed. 

The SP was especially concerned about the project in relation to the growing socioeconomic differences with the influx of rich foreigners, in particular from the Netherlands, and the fact that the homes on the Bolivia Plantation would not be for the poorer section of the Bonaire people. “We are worried that the Bonaire population grows so fast and that this growth is very unbalanced whereby the socio-economic differences are increasing and the local population increasingly feel like strangers on their own island. What is the responsibility of the local government in this project and what is the responsibility of the Dutch government?” 
The SP remarked that the new homes that would be built at the Bolivia Plantation would not be accessible for the poorer section of the population, but only for rich people from outside. The party wondered whether a referendum among the Bonaire people would be possible on this real estate project, also considering that it concerns almost one-tenth of the island’s span. 

The former owner of the majority of the shares of the Bolivia Plantation has stated in the local media that no official plans were submitted to the Bonaire government. He assured that if the plans went ahead, only a small portion of the 3,000 hectares would be developed. Funds from the sale of the land would also be used to conserve the natural habitat on the property

Trouw, May 12, 2020

BONAIRE NEEDS MORE CABINET SUPPORT TO SAVE THE CORAL

 

Tribute for the new cabinet plans to save nature on Bonaire. But we can’t handle this without extra help from the Netherlands, write James Kroon and
Elvis Tjin Asjoe, administrators on the island.

James Kroon and Elvis Tjin Asjoe in TROUW (NL) May 12th, 2020, 1:05pm

You do not have to convince Bonaireans how valuable nature is. Our prosperity and well-being depend to a great extent on the special flora and fauna, including the unprecedented wealth of coral. Bonaire already opted for sustainable development in 1960. Fifty years ago, the former Washington plantation was granted national park status, followed ten years later by the Marine Park.

Last month, the cabinet presented the Nature and Environmental Policy Plan for the Caribbean Netherlands (Natuur- en Milieubeleidsplan Caribisch Nederland). The aim is to preserve and restore nature on Bonaire and our sister islands of St. Eustatius and Saba. Nature is under pressure on all three islands, as Trouw reported earlier. The quality of our unique coral and thus the entire underwater life has deteriorated sharply. The threat largely comes from the outside: pollution of the oceans, including the discharge of waste water, litter and plastic. Climate change makes it worse. On land, thousands of stray goats and donkeys are attacking biodiversity.

We therefore wholeheartedly agree with the solid measures proposed by the cabinet. Whether the amount that the ministries want to allocate to it will be enough is doubted, also by the World Wildlife Fund. Certain is that the effort required by the government of Bonaire is not realistic. The annual payment from the BES fund (comparable to the municipal fund) has been too low for regular island tasks for years. That forces us as the government of Bonaire to make impossible choices from an abundance of priorities.

Population has exploded
Poverty has risen sharply since Bonaire became a special municipality in the Netherlands in 2010. Even before the corona crisis paralyzed our economy, four out of ten households had an income below the subsistence level. They have other concerns than nature. In addition, the population has increased from 13,000 to more than 21,000 in ten years, mainly due to immigration. Without a specific settlement policy, Bonaire will have 30,000 inhabitants in ten years’ time. Further growth, as Statistics Netherlands predicts, means more houses, more infrastructure, more energy consumption and more waste. This underlines the need for a sustainable settlement policy, also for the authenticity of our island. And debate about a limit to growth.

Tourism
We stand for responsible growth and therefore want to shift the emphasis to quality tourism: visitors who come for nature, culture and tranquility. That change does not happen overnight. We cannot write off the income from cruise tourism and its contribution to employment in one go.

Example: Ministry of Education
Another reality is the executive power of our government apparatus. The department that deals with nature and the environment is insufficiently equipped to implement the measures announced by the government.
If the government actually considers the ecosystems of Bonaire as valuable as it has written down, it is good if the ministers involved take an example from the Ministry of Education that has succeeded in improving the quality of education in the Caribbean Netherlands from substandard to more than sufficiently.
Now our attention and energy are focused on public health and alleviating the social and economic impact of the corona crisis. That does not alter the fact that we as a governement of Bonaire are prepared to do everything in our power to save one of the most special ecosystems in the country. We expect the same from the cabinet.

You can download the Environmental plan Caribbean Netherlands 2020-2030 (original text in Dutch): Beleidsplan Natuur en Milieu Caribisch Nederland 2020-2030 here.

Trouw, April 24, 2020

Sixteen million for nature restoration Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius.

[Dead coral on Bonaire. Picture TR BEELD]

The Netherlands invests in preserving the species diversity in the Caribbean Netherlands. Minister Carola Schouten (agriculture and nature) sends a nature restoration plan to the House of Representatives. Joop Bouma April 24th, 2020.

The cabinet is allocating 16 million for nature restoration on Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius. More than seven million of that goes to coral restoration. The House of Representatives had asked Minister Schouten for a rescue plan for the reef, because the quality is falling sharply.

The coral of the three islands, which together form the Caribbean Netherlands, is still considered the most valuable in the region. Thousands of tourists flock to Bonaire every year to dive. But without intervention, the reef will continue to deteriorate.

In a government report, the state of the ecosystems and the species of plants and animals on the islands was rated as “moderate to very unfavorable” last year. The Caribbean Netherlands does not meet the goals of the UN Convention for the Conservation of Biodiversity, signed by the Netherlands ten years ago.

Biodiversity Treaty
A new international biodiversity treaty will be negotiated next year. That UN conference was to be held in the Chinese city of Kunming this fall, but was postponed by the corona crisis. There is no new date yet.

The Caribbean Netherlands is a hotspot for biodiversity. The three islands are rich in important species of animals and plants. But on Bonaire alone, 35,000 goats and hundreds of donkeys roam free, which eat up the nature on the island. This creates erosion. Rinse sand and nutrients in the sea, which seriously affects the water quality in the coral. The pollution must be resolved by 2030, according to an environmental plan drawn up in consultation with the island governments. Also on Saba and St. Eustatius there are considerable problems due to stray goats.

The plan states that within ten years “all wild grazers” (goats, donkeys, pigs) on the islands must be slaughtered or locked behind fences by farmers. Livestock farmers should have fenced their area by 2024, the plan said.

Sewage system
There is hardly any sewage on the islands and waste water is often discharged untreated. Sewage from homes is often collected in underground tanks, but these are often leaky, so that pollution ends up in the sea via the limestone bottom. The government wants large discharges on Bonaire to be connected to a sewer system within four years. Nowadays there is only sewage in parts of the capital Kralendijk. Waste water management systems must also be installed on Saba and St. Eustatius.

The cabinet wants plans to protect all endangered animal and plant species by 2030 to protect them. If necessary, breeding and breeding programs should be established for native species. Invasive species – animals that do not belong in the island environment (such as lionfish, rats, feral cats and dogs) – should also be better controlled.

You can download the Environmental plan Caribbean Netherlands 2020-2030 (original text in Dutch): Beleidsplan Natuur en Milieu Caribisch Nederland 2020-2030 here.

Trouw, February 14, 2020

Edison Rijna, Bonaire Island Governor:
“WE ARE PROSTITUTING OUR ISLAND”
Interview Edison Rijna, Joop Bouma February 14th, 2020, 11:11

Edison Rijna is the governor of Bonaire, mayor. He is annoyed by the “monsters” of cruise ships that dock almost daily at the Kralendijk quay. Bonaire must focus on sustainable tourists, he believes. And he also has a solution for the 35,000 goats: eat them.

The lieutenant governor puts a cozy mill with Bonairean salt on the table in the lobby of his hotel at Schiphol. A gift. Salt has been an export product of the island for centuries. Edison Rijna, as a lieutenant governor of Bonaire, is in the Netherlands for a few days for a meeting with forty mayors. The salt mills were for his Dutch colleagues. But a few mayors were not there, so he was left with some mills. “I don’t want to take it back to Bonaire.” Hence. Salt from the island. “And you know,” he says with a smile, “if it’s empty, you can have it refilled for free on Bonaire. Good reason to go again, right? “
In January Trouw posted several stories about the ecological threats of Bonaire. Plants and animals and the coral on and around the island are not doing well. 2020 is the year of biodiversity. A United Nations conference on global measures to combat species loss is being held in China in October. The Netherlands scores poorly on biodiversity, both in Europe and in the Caribbean.

Also Bonaire is not doing well 
Rijna’s island is still considered the greenest and nature-friendly in the former colony, certainly compared to Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. But Bonaire is also not doing well. The coral is deteriorating, nature is becoming scarce as more than 30,000 goats graze freely on the island, developers make plans to cultivate open areas. In short, the balance between economy and nature is under pressure.
These are developments that worry Rijna, born and raised on Bonaire. That is why he wants to give his vision of the future of his island. Earlier this week he spoke with ministries in The Hague, among other things about nature conservation and restoration.
Rijna believes in a tourism plan that originated within the economic sector of Bonaire, but has since been embraced by the Executive Council. It is called “Blue Destination”. Bonaire must become an island for the sustainable, financially decisive tourist, who does not come for casinos and diamond shops, but is looking for quality, peace and sustainability and unspoilt nature. The latter is less and less on Bonaire.

The shipping companies had lead left in their pencil 
Rijna would rather not see those cruise ships, the colossi of seven floors, which pour out 4,000 tourists on the island in a 24-hour period. The governor recalls how he had to sign a decision six years ago to make it possible to land on cruises on Bonaire. Bonaire wanted to grow and benefit from the wealthy tourist. The shipping companies had a lot lead left in their pencil.
“We had to give a discount; the casinos had to close. Those kinds of things. Then I already thought why are we doing this, we are prostituting our island, sorry I formulate it that way. We must not want this. But at that time, Bonaire was not that interesting for cruise lines. They mainly went to Aruba and Curacao, Isla Margarita and Trinidad, literally around Bonaire. We were still happy with every cruise ship that came to our seaport. “
Until Venezuela started to become dangerous, Rijna continues. “Then all of a sudden they came to Bonaire and in 2016 we were named the best cruise destination in the Caribbean. That was because our island was still authentic. The water was still clean here and no coastal strips that are crammed with huge hotels. Our waterfront is open and accessible. Bonaire was not like the other Caribbean islands, which all look alike. “

There is a “tsunami of cruise ships”
They have known it on Bonaire. Van Rijna now speaks of “a tsunami of cruise ships”. “While we are sitting here there is already the first voyage of a cruise ship that wants to visit Bonaire. It must be pushed back. Of course, those cruise ships raise money. But we no longer have to focus on those mass ships, but rather on smaller, specialized ships with a different audience, the sailing cruises.
“I once spoke to an American from such a mass cruise on the quay in Kralendijk. He had paid $ 279 for a week. Unbelievable right? Yes, he said, for that money I have a week vacation, here and there I buy a souvenir, I walk through the city and I eat and drink myself full on board for seven days. What are the benefits for us? We don’t want people like that on Bonaire. ”

Princess Beatrix called them “ugly monsters”
Princess Beatrix visited Bonaire in November 2018. Rijna remembers that he was going to pick up the former queen at Flamingo Airport. She said: “Governor, when I landed, I saw two ugly monsters lying on the pier.” She was referring to two huge cruise ships on the Kralendijk quay.
“You don’t want them,” she said. She came up with the example of quality tourism in Uganda where the emphasis is much more on the protection of nature. I agree with her. We must strive for that. “
The much lauded authenticity of Bonaire is under pressure, Rijna also notices that from the original population of the island, who are now a minority of 40 percent. “People more and more say that the authenticity disappears. I want to stop that process. I want to search for solutions.
“In the beginning, we asked the shipowners of those cruise ships a fee of 75 cents per cruise tourist. That was absurdly little. Later that became two dollars. Still too little. Bermuda said: we no longer want cruises. They have greatly increased the rate there. There are cruise companies that still pay for it, because they necessarily want to go to Bermuda. That two dollars from Bonaire will be 3.50 next season and so we are going to raise it to 8 dollars. ” Rijna would prefer to have his island completely out of the market for large cruise ships.

Stall at the market for turtles 
Rijna probably immediately gets the agreement of most organizations that strive for nature conservation on the island if he keeps those ships offshore. Kaj Schut of Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, the organization that protects sea turtles on Bonaire, is worried just like him.
“The tourist pressure has a major impact on the coral. We are certainly not in favor of even more cruise ships. ” Schuts organization consciously keeps its distance from cruise tourism. “We were able to get a stall on the market in the shopping street of Kralendijk when cruise ships dock. But we stay away from it. “
And then there are the goats. At least 30,000 roam freely on Bonaire. Even in the Washington Slagbaai National Park (together with the coral) the pride of green Bonaire, the animals eat everything bare. Just like the hundreds of donkeys and wild pigs roaming the island freely. The problem has been on the agenda for years. Their gluttony leads to a monoculture, only plants and shrubs that they do not eat can survive. All that rooting causes erosion, the washing away soil damages the delicate coral around the island.

Come to Washington Slagbaai to steal goats!
“Goats are sacred on Bonaire, you have to stay away from that,” Rijna knows better than anyone. But he thinks that short work needs to be done. “We must slaughter them. The donkeys too, you can make delicious sausage from it. There is a lot of goat-theft on Bonaire. They are stolen a lot. I say: let them go to Washington Slagbaai to steal goats! Take them with you. I support it, they can come and steal for free there. “
Rijna thinks and hopes that the goat problem can be solved in the long term. “There was no political decisiveness on Bonaire for a long time. I have been a governor for more than five years and during that time I have experienced six different executive councils. You can’t make a policy with that. Now I notice that the current college wants to take steps. “

Trouw, January 3, 2020

On a plantation on Bonaire, the kadushi’s make way for expensive villas

Conservationists on Bonaire are concerned about a plan for 1500 homes on a former plantation. The area is overgrown with fragile tropical forest. The project developer does not understand the fuss.

Joop Bouma, 3 january 2020

Oh dear, look, that’s how it goes”, Johan de Blerk, tree lover Bonaire is visibly shocked when he is on the cliff high above the Caribbean Sea suddenly sees a huge tree cactus lying flat. Just cut.
A kadushi of about 4 meters high with a thick trunk. At least a hundred years old, he estimates. A perfectly healthy specimen, he points to young shoots on the cut cactus. The sawdust from the chainsaw is still fresh. “I am going to make a declaration”, he says reluctantly. “This is not allowed. This tree is on the red list. This is exactly how things are done here so often. “

We are on the edge of the Bolivia area, on the east coast of Bonaire, between the old village of Rincon and the capital Kralendijk. Bolivia is a former goat plantation and aloe was grown here a long time ago. The 2850 hectare area – 10 percent of the entire island – is covered with dry tropical forest. Due to decades of grazing the species richness is seriously affected by stray goats, donkeys and pigs. Young growth does not get a chance, as in the whole of nature in Bonaire. Dry tropical forest is one of the important Caribbean habitats, but also one with a “very unfavorable future”, according to a recent report by Wageningen scientists commissioned by the Ministries of Agriculture and Economic Affairs in The Hague.
On the very edge of Bolivia, where we are now, a narrow strip of land has recently been sold for housing. It is a beautiful place with a majestic view over the former plantation, with the endless, shimmering Caribbean Sea behind it.
Who doesn’t want to live there?

De Blerk, who is committed to preserving and restoring nature on the island, knows better than anyone that landowners often cut down a lot. Often deliberately in violation of the rules, sometimes simply because of ignorance. That is why he visited the buyers of the four lots in Bolivia. Also the piece of land on which we stand. To explain that so many trees have already disappeared from the free nature of Bonaire and that what is still there, must be cherished. De Blerk thinks that this concern is also due to the enormous cacti, even though many of them grow on the island.
For trees with a trunk diameter of more than 20 centimeters, a felling permit must be applied for on Bonaire. That should have been clear for this sawn-down cactus. According to De Blerk, permission would not have been granted for a tree that could be a century old. Why did this huge cactus on the edge of the cliff have to be felled if necessary? Was it because the tree obstructed the clear view of the Caribbean Sea? Further along the cliff are still some large kadushi’s. “When it comes to the view, I am afraid that they will also dissapear.

Stories about an anonymous Dutch project developer
But on balance the few building plots on the outskirts of Bolivia are not his biggest concern. De Blerk fears that the special character and vegetation of the former plantation will disappear if a much larger and more extensive building plan for the area continues. Because since a while on Bonaire stories have been circulating about an anonymous Dutch project developer who wants to build 1500 homes or more on Bolivia. Expensive houses along the cliff – because there, with that view, everyone wants to live – and cheaper homes elsewhere in the area.
According to a website with roaring texts, the investor wants to restore the nature and cultural history of Bolivia, construct a cycle route and roads. Between 600 and 900 hectares of the area would be developed. The site, set up by Bonaire Investments NV, contains phrases about ‘an area with enormous opportunities’ … ‘extra attention to nature and the preservation of landscape values’ … ‘where there is room for nature, education and heritage’ . The conservationists on Bonaire also find good words, but you can claim everything on a website, who actually says this?
Questions that are asked via the email address on the website will not receive a response even after repeated attempts. Only after some searching does a name appear, that of Frans Vinju, former banker and asset adviser in Breda. Yes, he mediated between the current owners and the interested Dutch buyer, he says by telephone at the end of November. The deal is then still not completely complete, so the project developer wants to stay under the radar for a while.

Bolivia has been designated as an “open landscape” in the Bonaire zoning plan
One of the owners of Bolivia is Richard Hart, former governor of Bonaire. From 1998 to 2003, he was the highest political authority on the island. He reports by e-mail that he inherited Bolivia from his father. The land was already sold in the mid-sixties of the last century to American investors who transferred their assets to Bonaire Properties NV, of which Hart is co-director as a minority shareholder.
Hart does not understand the worries about the future of Bonaire. He says that the investor who wants to develop Bolivia is aware of the natural values of the area. He also points out that Bolivia has been designated as an “open landscape” in the zoning plan of Bonaire. “That means it can be developed. At our request, Frans Vinju has drawn up a global plan and he has been in contact with government organizations and environmental and nature organizations. He has not encountered any objections. ”
He and his co-owners cannot agree that Bolivia’s development is being torpedoed, Hart writes in his email. “Bonaire does not deserve that either.” When selling the plots, Bonaire Properties will impose restrictions on buyers, he reports. “Protection of nature, culture and the environment are central here.

The entire area is offered for sale
Bonaire Properties NV recently offered the entire area for sale for 12 million US dollars to the association of owners of fifteen properties on the southernmost outskirts of Bolivia. At the end of the 1990s, a few plots were sold there for luxury residential construction. The owners, mostly Dutch, had stipulated at the time that they would be entitled to a first purchase if the area were to be sold.
The offer of 12 million has been declined. “We really don’t have that much money,” says Henk Nijland, board member of the association of owners of the country houses. Nijland, former director of energy company Eneco, has been campaigning against the construction plan for some time. He believes that the area should be left alone. He is a nimby (not in my backyard), someone who lives nicely in a beautiful area, but would rather not see others in his backyard.
“Yes, I am a nimby. I can’t deny that ”, he says honestly on a terrace in Kralendijk. “I want the area to remain calm and nature to be preserved. Nature is declining everywhere on Bonaire, even in the Washington Slagbaai National Park, where the goats are still walking around. That project developer wants to divide Bolivia into lots. What will be built there and for whom? 1500 homes there. That is six thousand people, one third of the current population of Bonaire. It’s a megalomaniac. “According to Nijland, Bonaire must implement a serious nature policy if the island wants to remain livable in the longer term.”  “In Bonaire there is an enormous gap between what is said and what is done”
Serious nature conservation means a major intervention in the economy, Nijland knows. “You then choose a different type of tourism, not the huge cruise ships that sail thousands of passengers to this island for 24 hours. There is no one here who takes responsibility, everyone and everything – including nature organizations – work alongside each other. You can see that in the ca 15,000 goats and 500 donkeys that roam freely here. Everyone knows it is disastrous for nature, but nobody takes the problem seriously.
In the Netherlands, Nijland approached Natuurmonumenten and the World Wide Fund for Nature to ask if they do not want to buy Bolivia. In vain. “We are not active in overseas territories and municipalities,” wrote director Marc van den Tweel of Natuurmonumenten to Nijland.
“We are aware,” says WNF spokesperson Dylan de Gruijl in a response. “This is an important nature reserve and large-scale development violates nature values and the surrounding coral reefs. We believe that this is not desirable here, without taking into account the conservation of the natural values. ”The WWF has close contact with partners on Bonaire, he adds; possibly joint action is taken as soon as the building permits are applied for.

The sale is cancelled, the Bonaire daily wrote
James Kroon, deputy of environment on Bonaire, finds the discussion about Bolivia out of place. “I’m not worried about it,” he says in his office on the top floor of the administrative office at Plasa Reina Wilhelmina in Kralendijk. “We need economic development on Bonaire. We want to continue to grow, but with preservation of nature and culture. “
Only 7 percent of Bonaire is built, says Kroon, and the island government is much more reticent with building plans than, for example, Aruba and Curaçao, where large hotels and apartment complexes dominate the beach and street scene. Kroon stands behind the plan for Bolivia.
But then, last Saturday, an article appears in Amigoe, newspaper on Bonaire. “Controversial sale of Bolivia plantation cancelled” the headline says. The newspaper writes, after contacting Hart, that the sale of the land to the project developer is canceled. According to the newspaper, Hart does not want to say more. Further information will follow in mid-January, he says in Amigoe.

A trick to get ownership of the land.
After questions from Trouw, Hart refers to Meine Breemhaar, entrepreneur from Almere. He is the mysterious investor in Bolivia. Breemhaar is a multi-millionaire and the owner of nearly 40 companies in Overijssel, Gelderland and Flevoland. He is in the Quote 500, the list of richest Dutch people.
The construction plan on Bonaire is not cancelled, it appears. Breemhaar has done a trick to get ownership of the land. When it turned out that Nijland and its neighbors wanted to make use of their first right to buy from Bolivia, not from the whole site, but from the adjacent plots, the investor decided to buy Bonaire Properties NV as a whole. Bremhaar is now the owner of Bolivia and a few smaller, former plantations on Bonaire.
Bremhaar finds the concern exaggerated. “The area is almost 3000 hectares. We want to build a thousand homes on a very small part of Bolivia. This concerns at most 2 percent of the area. Moreover, nature is really unspoilt there. The area has been neglected for the last thirty years, it is now a goat-eaten gang. Our project will only make it more beautiful and better, with more nature too. ”

The Bonaire Reporter, October 28, 2019

Should Bolivia be developed? Photo and story: Julie Morgan. To read the article visit
The Bonaire Reporter website here.