photo: john samson

The book ‘The Canon of Dutch Nature’ that was presented last week skipped part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: nature on the Caribbean islands. A number of filmmakers think that is a shame.

Ignas van Schaick is one of the filmmakers who is disappointed that the special municipalities of Saba, St. Eustatius, and Bonaire have been ‘forgotten’ in the book that highlights fifty species of plants and animals.

The fact that this is happening again seems to confirm that there is little interest from the Netherlands in our islands and that the Caribbean municipalities are part of the Netherlands, say critics.

For example, according to the filmmakers, the Caribbean flamingo (Bonaire), the Antillean iguana (St. Eustatius), the rainforest (Saba), and the elkhorn coral (from the protected marine area Saba Bank) are missing. Moreover, says Van Schaick, nowhere is the diversity of animal species throughout the kingdom as great as in the Caribbean parts.

Why were the islands not included in the book? According to Dick de Vos, author of the book, it is complicated to have to make a choice from so many species, even per island. According to him, the most important thing is that he has never been to the islands himself. “So how can I write about that in an inspiring way?” he responds in the NOS Radio 1 Journaal.

Due to the criticism of the project, the writer is considering traveling to the islands as a ‘separate project’.

For filmmaker Van Schaick and the other critics, the point is that the book should have given a ‘representative’ image of the whole of the Netherlands. And then the three special municipalities in the Caribbean are simply part of it, he says in the radio program. “That is why we present four iconic varieties that should certainly not be missing from the next edition.”

A film about nature on the islands

The criticism comes from a number of filmmakers who will produce a nature film about the Caribbean islands in 2024: Wow! – Dutch Caribbean Uncovered. With the film, the makers want to show the diversity, beauty, vulnerability, and resilience of nature on the islands. Also what climate change means in this, for example.

It should be released in cinemas on the islands and in the Netherlands in 2025. The film team consists of Bianca Peters and Elton Arends from 360º of Innovation from Aruba, and Jeffrey de Graaff and Ignas van Schaick from M&N Media Group from the Netherlands.