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Identify and describe the major social benefits and costs associated with the conservation and careful protection of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). (Use the Total Economic Value (TEV) approach to describe these benefits and costs.)socitety and comunity.

1. Use an ecological economic perspective to help describe how the Reef might be sustainably managed.
2. Suggest how the social benefits and costs of conserving the Reef might be valued in economic terms (which valuation techniques would apply?)
3. What framework(s) would you recommend to decision-makers to help make decisions about the use and conservation of the GBR? (e.g. benefit cost analysis (BCA), MCA or other assessment frameworks).
4. Based on your research, discuss the case(what is benfit, the overall community seem to like) for conserving the GBR and limiting or modifying the main activities or driving forces that are putting pressure of the Reef’s vitality. 

Biodiversity and Threats to the Great Barrier Reef

The continent of Australia, which is positioned in between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, is a mega-diverse landmass with numerous biodiversity hotspots, such as rainforests, deserts, mountainous terrain, and plains.Adding to its biodiversity, it also consists of The Great Barrier Reef, which is the world’s largest coral reef system situated in the Coral Sea (Wolanski, 2018).The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) comprises of nine hundred islands and 2900 coral reefs, which constitute a giant underwater ecosystem. Ironically, the ecosystem which was formed due to global warming in the last glacial period is threatened by the same phenomenon of today.Coral reefs are of a great benefit to its adjoining landmass, serving as a protection to the coast. Indigenous Australians have since long taken refuge in the islands of the Reef.

The presence of the GBR is greatly advantageous to the country, and has many benefits such as prevention of coastal erosion,  protection from natural disasters, and being an economical powerhouse of Australia. However, the Reef’s stability is rendered vulnerable by many factors such as climate change, seawater pollution, and overfishing. Human exploitation of nature is one of the main factors, where we can see that the coral reef is losing its stability over the time due to incessant human activities (De’ath, Fabricus, Sweatman, & Puotinen, 2012). Thus, conserving the GBR would be largely beneficial to the economy of Australia.

This essay deals with the need of conserving the GBR, the advantages and the ecological economy of conservation of the Reef. The social costs and benefits of conserving the GBR are discussed and tabulated. A Total Economic Value framework is made on the GBR, and its components are analysed. The Sustainable Development Appraisal and the trans-disciplinary approach is discussed, in relation to the ecological economics of the conservation of the GBR. Various environmental valuation techniques are discussed, and the most efficient of them is analysed. The best suited framework wherin the environmental valuation results could be presented to support decision making regarding the conservation of the GBR is suggested. This essay provides a theoretical perspective to analyzing the ecological economics of the GBR, which can be used to calculate the actual monetary value of the costs and benefits of its conservation.

The Costs-Benefit analysis is a systematic approach which is used to calcualte, compare, and analyze the costs and benefits of a given action or a situation (Ding, 2008).It is highly beneficial in determining the suitable option which provides equitable benefits to the costs incurred, thus is highly effective in calculating opportunity costs. While assessing the the costs and benefits in the conservation of the GBR, there are a lot of factors that must be considered, which are detailed in Table 1 and 2.

Costs

Cost Type

Economic Value

Source

Fisheries

Private

Direct Use/Bequest

By controlling the rampant overfishing that is damaging the Reef, the fishing industry would definitely incur a loss (Kennedy, et al., 2013). This can be calculated by production factor, where the loss of profit due to excessive fishing (capital) and the loss of labour (labour) must be calculated, at the benefit of the Reef (land).

Resourse utilization

External

Direct Use/Bequest

By limiting excessve tourism by putting a cap on the torist numbers and/or increasing the prices, one can minimize the amount of resourses utilized, such as energy, water, and can minimize pollution (Goodwin, 2017). The Travel Cost method can be used to calcualte the projected losses of the tourism industry, as opposed to the gains on the natural reesources.

Agriculture

External

Direct Use/Icon

As aricultural products such as pesticides and fertilizers cause damage to the Reef by runoffs, providing natural agricultural products or compenstions to the farmers would be a cost incurred (Austin, Tunny, Prickett, Fitzgibbons, & Binney, 2013).

Industrial Development

External

Direct Use

By limiting or regulating the industrial developmnet in the area near the Reef, the increased carbon-di-oxide levels in the air can be reduced (Omer, 2008). The resultant loss of profits, and the relocation costs can be calculated by hedonic pricing.

Shipping

Private

Direct Use/Altruistic

Overshipping is one of the main areas that damages the Reef,  causing pollution and resultant coral bleaching (Carse & Lewis, 2017). If limited, the costs must be calcualted by the production factor method, where the the loss of profit due to overshipping (capital) and the loss of labour (labour) must be calculated, at the benefit of the Reef (land).

Benefits

Benefits Type

Economic Value

Source

Increased employment

Private

Direct Use

Conservation of the GBR would result in more job creation, thus providing employment opportunities to more people. However, the loss of jobs of the people displaced from their previous employments due to the conservation program must also be accounted for, and balanced (Bennett & Dearden, 2011).

Environmental Benefits

External

Direct Use/Bequest

Lower levels of carbon-di-oxide in the air would result in reduced coral bleaching, and better water quality would result in reduced oceanic acidification (Austin, Tunny, Prickett, Fitzgibbons, & Binney, 2013). This would enable a longer life to the corals.

Tourism

Private

Direct Use/Icon

A stable Reef would attract more tourists, for a longer period of time. Even though the losses from curbing excessive tourism must be counted for, the benefits of utilizing lesser resources and lesser waste management would likely balance the costs (Austin, Tunny, Prickett, Fitzgibbons, & Binney, 2013).

Ecosystem Benefits

External

Direct Use/ Bequest

According to market-research, even a slight increase in the quality of the ecosystem would benefit the organisms greatly (Austin, Tunny, Prickett, Fitzgibbons, & Binney, 2013). As the Reef is home to diverse species of sea-life, there are great benefits of conserving the ecosystem of the Reef.

Cultural Value

Private

Direct Use/Altruistic

The Great Barrier Reef is the natural home to many indeginous tribs of Australia, and conserving it would greatly benefit conserve the haboitat of the tribes, thus ensuring their unhindered existance and continuity (Austin, Tunny, Prickett, Fitzgibbons, & Binney, 2013).

Social Costs and Benefits of Conserving the Great Barrier Reef

The TEV is a cost-benefit analysis concept, which is the value derived by its people from a natural or a manmade resource as opposed to not having it (Admiraal, Wossink, de Groot, & de Snoo, 2013). TEV is a major part of environmental economics, which studies the economical aspect of environmental structures and issues globally. There are two parts to the TEV – use value, and non-use value. Applying the components of TEV, we can find out the environmental economics of the conservation of the GBR.The use value of GBR can be defined as the value obtained from a product found within the GBR. These include fisheries, water, natural landscapes, tourism sightseeing, etc. The non-use values can be defined as the value obtained from the existence of the GBR, such as the potential for future research, willingness to preserve it for its bequest, and the satisfaction of having preserved an iconic heritage site (Deloitte, 2017).A detailed analysis of the components of TEV in relation to the conservation of the GBR is  shown in Figure 1.

                                         

The GBR is a priceless resource of the Australian coast, however when we come to discussing the economics, it is essential to put a monetary value on the Reef, so that its conservation and sustainability measures can be analysed and implemented (Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, 2012). It is essental to perform a costs-benefit analysis, in order to value both the private and external costs with the benefits of conservation of the GBR.

The GBR is one of the most valuable heritage sites in the world, whose total value is immeasurable. In the conservation of natural resources, the sustainability principle ideally implies “using natural resources in a way which does not eliminate or degrade them or otherwise decrease their usefulness to future generations”. To analyse how ecological economics help inform the sustainable management of the GBR, the use of two approaches – the Sustainable Development Appraisal (SDA) and the trans-disciplinary approach are to be analysed.

The Sustainable Development Appraisal is a continuous process throughout the life cycle of the resource, in this case the GBR (Lee, Ting, Chang, Lee, & Liu, 2016). Here, four elements are envisaging a long-term vision that reflects the bio-diversity, usage and value of the Reef, creating an outcome framework for the conservation, taking managerial actions that can be adapted to the threats and needs of the GBR, and integrated monitoring and constant re-appraisal of the plans.Incidentally, these are the steps involved in Great Barrier Reef Intergovernmental Agreement of 2009. However, as this plan focuses on long term plans, there is seen to be a lack of potential investors and research agencies, which is to be focused by the planning committee.

Total Economic Value Framework and Environmental Valuation Techniques

The trans-disciplinary approach is a holistic approach, which focuses on all aspects of conservation of the GBR, namely the global, local, ecological and social aspects of conservation. This involves analysis of the human activity, governmental and political regulations, implementation of the ideas formulated, global biosphere, biodiversity, interaction of species within the GBR, the issues faced by the GBR due to the interaction, etc. The trans-disciplinary approach can be considered a one-stop analysis approach to the conservation of the GBR, however it is time and resource consuming, and a lot of research is needed to encompass all disciplines.

In addition to the TEV, there are many ways of environmental valuation such as hedonic pricing, travel cost method, contingent valuation method, production factor method, and averting behaviour method. For the environmental valuation of the GBR, the travel cost analysis method is used, as it is the most relevant method in analyzing the cost to benefit ratio.

                                                                         

The GBR is a highly rated tourist spot in Australia, and its economic valuation can be effectively done by using the Travel-Cost Analysis method. This method is widely preferred in this context because of the revealed preference of the tourists, as it is the actual human behavior, which defines the value of the site. The basic factors needed to be considered in this method are the time and travel costs incurred to the tourist, as they showcase the actual access price of the GBR. Ideally, it is measuring the “willingness to pay” factor of the people.In order to implement the economic valuation system, we must choose a relevant decision support framework in order to assess the conservation of the GBR.

Decision support frameworks are information systems that support critical decision making. In order to qualitatively analyze the components in the conservation of the GBR, a multi-criteria approach (MCA) can be implemented (Lesslie & Hill, 2008).Incidentally, this was the tool of choice to address the GBR’s catchment issue (Hammill, et al., 2015). The components that were assessed by this tool were system adoption, ground cover, catchment pollutant loads, and marine indicators. A five point scoring system was used, with a colour code for each score, and the data fed into the system was presented in a map. The MCA system is advantageous, as it is holistic, and covers all aspects involved in the conservation of the GBR

Sustainable Management of the Great Barrier Reef: An Ecological Economics Perspective

Analyzing the environmental economics of the GBR using the TEV, the pricing using the TCA, and decision support framework using the MCA, we can work towards modifying the factors that hinder the conservation of the Reef. A few of the activities that tend to put immense pressure on the vitality of the GBR are human exploitation of the Reef, such as surface run-off’s from farmlands causing the entry of hazardous pesticides and fertilizers into the sea, thereby altering the composition of the sea waters (Lewis, et al., 2009), eutrophication, or the release of harmful chemicals into the Reef ecosystem limited oxygen supply to the sea creatures (Cinner, et al., 2012), pollution from mining, oil leaks, and shipping, and overfishing. These activities have to be stopped, for the conservation of the Reef.

Applying the MCA framework here, we can assess the level of impact each activity has on the stability of the Reef. The report card of the GBR submitted by the Australian government list out the five criteria used, that are the methodology, the validation, the representativeness, the directness, and the measured error (Government of Australia, 2015). By this method, the critical areas that need to be addressed are identified. Once the assessment is made, it is imperative that a solution is found, and the preventive steps for such activities not to recur in the future must be taken. Next, sustainable alternative methods to the harmful existing methods must be made, such as encouraging the use of bio-fertilizers in the place of chemicals, building catchments to prevent run-off’s, etc (Grech, et al., 2013).

Conclusion

The GBR serves as Australia’s fortress, and is a great storehouse of marine ecosystem, including many endangered and vulnerable species (Munday, Jones, Pratchett, & Williams, 2008). Conserving the GBR has been taken up as a primary task by the Australian government. As an initiative to conserve the Reef, the government has formed the “Reef 2050 Plan”, which looks to conserving and protecting the Reef, and enabling it to sustain. The GBR is an economic powerhouse to Australia, and proper steps must be taken to sustain the economy by not skimping on theresources that are spent for the conservation. This can be made easier by spreading awareness of the vulnerable state of the GBR to the public, thus increasing the level of environmental education amongst the public. Stricter laws, rules and regulations must be made, so that activities that harm the Reef are limited (Day & Dobbs, 2013). Implementing a proper framework would go a long way in the environmental economy of the GBR.

Decision Support Framework for Assessing the Conservation of the Great Barrier Reef

References

Admiraal, J., Wossink, A., de Groot, W., & de Snoo, G. (2013). More than total economic value: How to combine economic valuation of biodiversity with ecological resilience. Ecological Economics , 115-122.

Austin, A., Tunny, G., Prickett, K., Fitzgibbons, A., & Binney, J. (2013). Draft report on the economic and social impacts of protecting environmental values in Great Barrier Reef catchment waterways and the reef lagoon. Queensland: Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

Authority, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. (2014). Great barrier reef outlook report 2014. Australia: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Bennett, N., & Dearden, P. (2011). Why local people do not support conservation: Community perceptions of marine protected area livelihood impacts, governance and management in Thailand. Marine Policy , 107-116.

Carse, A., & Lewis, J. (2017). Toward a political ecology of infrastructure standards: Or, how to think about ships, waterways, sediment, and communities together. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space , 9-28.

Cinner, J., McClanahan, T., Graham, N., Daw, T., Maina, J., Stead, S., et al. (2012). Vulnerability of coastal communities to key impacts of climate change on coral reef fisheries. Global Environmental Change , 12-20.

Day, J., & Dobbs, K. (2013). "Effective governance of a large and complex cross-jurisdictional marine protected area: Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Marine Policy , 14-24.

De’ath, G., Fabricus, K., Sweatman, H., & Puotinen, M. (2012). The 27–year decline of coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef and its causes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (pp. 1-5). PNAS.

Deloitte. (2017). Total economic value of the Great Barrier Reef What you need to know. Deloitte.

Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning. (2012). Great Barrier Reef Coastal Zone - Strategic Assessment. Queensland: The Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning.

Ding, G. (2008). Sustainable construction—The role of environmental assessment tools. Journal of environmental management , 451-464.

Goodwin, H. (2017). The challenge of overtourism. Responsible Tourism Partnership , 4.

Government of Australia. (2015). Great Barrier Reef Report Card. Queensland: Government of Australia.

Grech, A., Bos, M., Brodie, J., Coles, R., Dale, A., Gilbert, R., et al. (2013). Guiding principles for the improved governance of port and shipping impacts in the Great Barrier Reef. Marine pollution bulletin , 8-20.

Hammill, B., Andersen, C., Johnson, C., Henry, N., Bennett, J., Scoullar, R., et al. (2015). The Great Barrier Reef Waterscience Taskforce. Queensland: Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

Hughes, R., Hughes, D., & Smith, I. (2014). Limits to understanding and managing outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster spp.). Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review , 133-200.

Kennedy, E., Perry, C., Halloran, P., Iglesias-Prieto, R., Schönberg, C., Wisshak, M., et al. (2013). Avoiding coral reef functional collapse requires local and global action. Current Biology , 912-918.

Lee, H., Ting, K., Chang, Y., Lee, M., & Liu, W. (2016). Trans-Disciplinary Education for Sustainable Marine and Coastal Management: A Case Study in Taiwan. Sustainability , 1-14.

Lesslie, R., & Hill, M. (2008). The Application of a Simple Spatial Multi-Criteria Analysis Shell to Natural Resource Management Decision Making. Australian Government Bureau.

Lewis, S., Brodie, J., Bainbridge, Z., Rohde, K., Davis, A., Masters, B., et al. (2009). Herbicides: a new threat to the Great Barrier Reef. Environmental Pollution , 2470-2484.

Munday, P., Jones, G., Pratchett, M., & Williams, A. (2008). Climate change and the future for coral reef fishes. Fish and Fisheries , 261-285.

Omer, A. (2008). Energy, environment and sustainable development. Renewable and sustainable energy reviews , 2265-2300.

Wolanski, E. (2018). Physical oceanographic processes of the Great Barrier Reef. In E. Wolanski, Physical oceanographic processes of the Great Barrier Reef (p. 163). Taylor and Francis.

Wooldridge, S. (2009). Water quality and coral bleaching thresholds: Formalising the linkage for the inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine Pollution Bulletin , 745-751.

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