World Resources Institute highlights Marine Park: Coral reefs valued at close to $58 million

POSTED: 01/8/13 11:56 AM

St. Maarten – The establishment of the Man of War Shoal Marine Park through the combination of economic and scientific research has been highlighted as one of the few examples of success in the Caribbean Region, according to a report from the World Resources Institute (WRI) released in December.

The St. Maarten Nature Foundation conducted an economic valuation study on local coral reef ecosystems some two years ago, which was used as one of the driving factors behind the establishment of the Man of War Shoal Marine Park. The study sought to place a monetary estimate on the coral reefs surrounding the island. Based on the research conducted by the Nature Foundation, with the assistance of the United Nations’ Environment Program Unep and the World Resources Institute (WRI), the coral reefs were estimated to be worth $57.7 million in contributions to the local economy and placed the emphasis on the need to protect them.

According to the WRI Report, governments, corporations, and development agencies are increasingly interested in putting a dollar value on ecosystems in order to balance conservation and development needs, a concept known as economic valuation. “St. Maarten’s government recently established the country’s first national park after a local organization, the Nature Foundation, found that the area’s coastal ecosystems contribute $58 million per year through tourism and fisheries,” stated a release from the WRI. Other studies also listed as having positive outcomes were from Belize, which enacted a host of new fishing regulations based on a WRI valuation, which found that coral reef- and mangrove-associated tourism contributes $150 million-$196 million per year to the country’s economy.

And from Bonaire, where park managers used economic valuation to justify the Bonaire Marine Park’s establishment of user fees—making it one of the few self-financed marine parks in the Caribbean. “These stories show that economic valuation can indeed lead to better coastal policy, conserving these ecosystems and securing their important economic contributions. However, according to new WRI research, these cases tend to be the exception in the Caribbean,” read a statement from the WRI.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) is an environmental think tank founded in 1982 and is based in Washington, D.C. in the United States. WRI is an independent, non-partisan and nonprofit organization with a staff of more than 100 scientists, economists, policy experts, business analysts, statistical analysts, mapmakers, and communicators developing and promoting policies with the intention of protecting the Earth and improving people’s lives.

The Man of War Shoal Marine Park includes globally threatened coral reef as well as sea-grass ecosystems. The marine Park is a home and migratory stop over or breeding site for more than one hundred endangered species.

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