Invasive plants in Caribbean Netherlands
The islands of Caribbean Netherlands, Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius, have unique tropical floras. These are endangered by invasive non-native (‘alien’) plants.
The islands of Caribbean Netherlands, Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius, are experiencing serious problems with invasive non-native plants. Due to an ever-increasing trade, tourism and new residents dozens of non-native plants arrive on the islands.
Many of these new introductions do not escape into nature and stay restricted to harbour areas and private gardens. But some do and cause serious problems. Due a lack of natural enemies these plants may proliferate massively and cause environmental damage. They overgrow the local vegetation or replace native species and can only be controlled at high costs and considerable damage to the rest of the vegetation. One of the most serious cases is the vine ‘corallita’ or ‘coral vine’ (Antigonon leptopus Hook. et Arn.) on St Eustatius. Introduced as attractive garden plant, it now smothers whole vegetations. And because of its persistence through underground tubers it renders whole areas unusable for agriculture and makes re-establishment of nature very difficult. Similar cases are the ‘rubber vine’ (Cryptostegia grandiflora R.Br.), especially on Bonaire and the Grey Nicker Caesalpinia bonduc (L.) Roxb. also on St Eustatius.
It may be clear that it is better to prevent such species from entering. Lists of species that are potentially hazardous (Black Lists) have to be established. These lists will differ for the various climates (Windward and Leeward islands). Regulations should be developed and enforced. WUR staffs collaborate with local partners and authorities to develop the necessary policy measures. A first step has been made with an inventory of the invasive non-native plants occurring in Caribbean Netherlands