Governance of ecosystem services on small islands: Three contrasting cases for St. Eustatius in the Dutch Caribbean

Nico Polman, Stijn Reinhard, L.K.J. van Bets, Tom Kuhlman

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Natural ecosystems provide an attractive focus for tourism on small islands. However, at the same time tourism and other human actions can be detrimental to these ecosystems especially because governance of the ecosystem may be difficult due to the limited resilience of small island ecosystems. In this paper, we focus on the conditions under which self-governance will be the appropriate governance mechanism of ecosystem services on small islands. We apply Ostrom’s (2009) framework for common-pool resources in a social-ecological system, and select the relevant indicators for small islands. We scored these indicators for three cases (environmental issues) in St. Eustatius, a Caribbean island under Dutch rule. These cases show that self-organization of ecosystem services is not an outcome easily achieved. The unevenly distributed benefits of potential measures are found to decrease community support of measures that could reinforce these ecosystem services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-284
JournalIsland Studies Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016



  • Caribbean
  • Ecosystem services
  • Environment
  • Governance
  • Self-organization
  • Small island

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