Environmental Economics and Coral Reef Management: Needs and Opportunities for Research in SE Asia

Papua New Guineas and Australias Great Barrier Reef. This paper calls on researchers to pay greater attention to the "blue" dimension of our global environment, commencing with the coral reef ecosystems. Coral reefs in SE Asia represent about 30% of the worlds reefs. They are currently undergoing unprecedented levels of degradation from stresses such as sedimentation, pollution, blast and cyanide fishing, and coral bleaching. Institutional weakness is pervasive and the proliferation of "paper parks" marine protected areas with no effective protection is alarming. Economic valuation of the coral reef asset, and of the damages wrought by institutional failures and various direct stresses, is thus of substantial policy interest. The paper provides a simple "benefit transfer" calculation using conventional methods, calculating a value of US$1.4 trillion for SE Asias coral reefs. The flaws inherent in such an analysis, however, are discussed in some detail; they underline a greater need for original site-specific empirical studies that reflect local system complexities and local policy needs. The paper summarizes conditions in the EEPSEA maritime countries Cambodia, China (including Taiwan), Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam and outlines potential policy priorities in each of these. Environmental economic analysis can assist in addressing some of these priorities through:  (i) increasing awareness of absolute and relative economic values; and, (ii) providing valuation estimates that can assist in coral reef management.




Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia