Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bermuda's Coral Reefs provide $722 million in value per year


BREAM contributed our coral reef and fish data to aid in the Assessment of the Total Economic Value of Bermuda's Coral Reef (click for executive summary), described in the Bermuda Sun article (link) out Feb 4th ; and Royal Gazette article out Feb 5th (link)


Bermuda Sun
Feb. 4th 2010


Coral reefs worth an average of $722 million per year
Economic benefits include tourism, fisheries and storm protection

THURSDAY, FEB. 4: The Department of Conservation Services within the Ministry of the Environment and Sports today released a study on the Total Economic Value (TEV) of Bermuda's Coral Reefs which shows that the annual value of the coral reef ecosystem averages $722 million, potentially amounting to $1.1 billion per year.

Bermuda's coral reefs provide substantial economic benefits through coastal protection from storms and hurricanes as well as supporting both the tourism industry and commercial and recreational fisheries. In short they are a fundamental contributor to a quality of life envied worldwide.

The Total Economic Value for Bermuda's coral reefs represents on average 12% of Bermuda's Gross Domestic Product (GDP in 2007 was of US$5.85 billion).

In summing up the aims of this economic valuation, Dr. Samia Sarkis of the Department of Conservation Services commented: "This first environmental economic valuation for Bermuda is paving the way for an alternative approach to conservation of natural resources.

"The recognition of the value of a natural resource or ecosystem is a fundamental step in considering the impact we have on the environment, the loss of ecological functions and the economic losses that ensue. This study has demonstrated the importance that coral reefs hold in the eye of the community and the tourists - reflected in their willingness to trade off monies (up to $50 million per year) for conservation and management of the reef system.

"The increased awareness will continue to generate support among the community and policy and decision-makers for ensuring sustainable development. For policy makers, and local businesses, the study also provides a tool enabling the integration of environmental concerns in the decision-making process and places it on a comparable (monetary) basis with economic and social impacts.

"It is hoped that these results on the TEV of Bermuda's coral reefs will assist in identifying and implementing more sustainable policies and activities, balancing environmental, social and economic goals for the long term sustainability of our most prominent marine asset, the northernmost coral reef system in the world."

This project was initiated and coordinated by the Department of Conservation Services (Government of Bermuda) in collaboration with environmental economists from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (U.K.) and implemented by the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) of the Vrije University (Netherlands) and a Bermuda-based scientific team.

It was funded by the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme (OTEP, U.K.), XL Foundation in Bermuda, and contributed to by the Bermuda Government for initial framework development.

The study's progress was overseen by a Steering Committee composed of Bermuda Government representatives (Department of Marine & Ports, Tourism, Finance, Environmental Protection, Forward Planning, Conservation Services, and Sustainable Development Unit), and well-respected members of the community.

Results of the study are published in a 200 page report "Total Economic Value of Bermuda's Coral Reefs: Valuation of Ecosystem Services" written by Pieter J.H. van Beukering, Samia Sarkis, Emily McKenzie, Sebastiaan Hess, Luke Brander, Mark Roelfsema, Loes Looijenstijn-van der Putten and Tadzio Bervoets.

The Executive Summary of the report will be available at www.gov.bm under The Ministry of Environment and Sports.
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Royal Gazette Feb 5th 2010

Report puts $700m 'value' on our reefs


By Amanda Dale

Photo by Mark Tatem Salt spray: Waves crash over a boiler reef on South Shore as winds picked up on February 19, 2009. Boiler reefs serve to break up high seas and protect Bermuda's beaches from erosion.

For centuries myths have abounded about lost treasure beneath the Island's waters, but today a survey shines a light on riches of a different kind.

We are not talking doubloons, gold or precious gems, but a treasure chest bursting with colourful marine life.

A team of environmental economists has now placed a value on Bermuda's coral reefs, estimated at more than $700 million a year.

An in-depth survey estimates the Total Economic Value (TEV) of the ecosystem to be $722 million, rising to a potential annual $1.1 billion. Based on 2007 figures, this equates to 12 percent of the Island's gross domestic product (GDP) of $5.85 billion.

Teaming up with Bermuda-based scientists, environmental economists conducted in-depth research into all aspects of the Island's coral reefs.

This included their importance in shielding homes from storm surge and their role in tourism and fisheries.

The survey results could result in legislation inflicting fines on those damaging coral reefs and greater environmental protection and enforcement.


Initiated by Government in partnership with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (UK) and the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije University (Netherlands), the research was funded by the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme and XL Foundation in Bermuda.

The 'Total Economic Value of Bermuda's Coral Reefs: Valuation of Ecosystem Services' states its purpose is "to address the lack of environmental consideration in current policy and decision-making for the marine environment, by providing a means of recognising the value of the range of ecosystem services provided by Bermuda's coral reefs".

Recognising that the Island is one of the most densely-populated countries in the world, the report says establishing a monetary value on the reefs will ensure greater inclusion in future planning and development decisions.

As the northernmost coral reef system in the world, it adds "Bermuda's reefs are of global importance". Their northerly latitude has offered protection from climate change events such as coral bleaching and the system is considered one of the healthiest in the region.

It is hoped the survey will also bring improvements in coral reef management, and it is noted that residents and tourists would be willing to contribute $50 million a year to conservation.

Among the report's recommendations are an environmental tourist tax and the creation of marine protected areas.

Samia Sarkis, of the Department of Conservation Services, said yesterday: "This first environmental economic valuation for Bermuda is paving the way for an alternative approach to conservation of natural resources.

"For policymakers, and local businesses, the study also provides a tool enabling the integration of environmental concerns in the decision-making process, and places it on a comparable (monetary) basis with economic and social impacts.

"It is hoped that these results on the TEV of Bermuda's coral reefs will assist in identifying and implementing more sustainable policies and activities, balancing environmental, social and economic goals for the long-term sustainability of our most prominent marine asset, the northernmost coral reef system in the world."

Triangle Diving owner Graham Maddocks was one of the survey participants.

"There is no such other coral reef system in the world which can sustain such a temperature transfer," he said.

"Around the world coral reefs are dying because they're not used to temperature change. But while reefs in the Caribbean only experience changes of a couple of degrees, in Bermuda our reefs go from 63 to 83 degrees. They are therefore of global importance."

Ina-Bianca Kuesters, manager of Blue Water Divers' Elbow Beach branch, said: "The coral reefs are not only important to tourism but to everyone in Bermuda. That's why it's important not to overfish or litter the ocean and our beaches.

"I hope this study will make people more aware."

Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce chairman Stuart Hayward said: "Bermudians know that the reefs are essential to our survival. We know that without them, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the Bermuda seamount to have survived the onslaught of ocean waves and swells.

"This understanding has grown over the years, making us more aware of the need to protect and preserve our ring of coral reef protection, and to be wary of schemes that might adversely affect their integrity.

"The study's emphasis in its recommendations on sustainable management of the reef ecosystem and in exercising extreme care when pursuing activities that impinge on the reefs is highly welcomed.

"We trust it will lead the way to further studies and a more research-based foundation for marine and terrestrial policies."

Acting Environment Minister Zane DeSilva was unavailable for comment.


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