Thursday, January 26, 2006
Reefs Cheaper to Protect...
That's right, which makes perfect sense. But the UN Environment Programme has reported that the costs of protecting the decreasing coral reefs and mangrove habitats is minute compared to the eco friendly tourism money that such environments generate. The report, to be issued at a conference in Paris, estimated that intact coral reefs were worth $100,000-$600,000 per sq km (0.3861 sq mile) a year to humankind and a sq km of mangroves $200,000-$900,000 a year. They say these estimates are from fisheries, tourism and shore protection. The report goes on to state that the estimated cost for protecting that same km would be only $775, and relates places like Egypt which 11% of its GNP is from tourism and over a quarter of that tourism is scuba related. Similar cases lie in the Bahamas.
what's really amazing is that it has taken this long before anyone came out with this information. I know also of Caribbean islands are going the way of eco-tourism and thus protecting their habitats (such as the Dominican Republic). It would be amazing if the United States would actually realize this. I mean think, the tragedy of New Orleans would have never happened if we protected marshes and barrier islands. South Florida is going to take a beating with no mangroves along the east coast (although the reefs are still there). But lets just talk about all different habitats we could protect. Much of the Chesapeake becomes anoxic, the same bay which was so abundant for American fisheries for decades. While I am unsure whether or not the economic figures are accurate, I am quite sure they are close.
Things that are encouraging are places like Pennekamp State Park and Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida and the proposed largest no take zone in the United States, a 132,000-square-mile (337,920-square-kilometer) area along a remote 1,400-mile (2,253-kilometer) long string of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
The mangrove photo is from http://www.floridaoceanographic.org/environ/mangrove1.htm
and the reef photo is from http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/