Bermuda reefs worth $722 million

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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.

http://www.bermudasun.bm/main.asp?SectionID=24&SubSectionID=270&ArticleID=44552