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Risks of global warming: the case of coral reef ecosystems in developing countries

Final Report Summary - BIOCORE (Risks of global warming: the case of coral reef ecosystems in developing countries)

The BIOCORE project was assessing the impact of the coral reef values obtained from various threats, particularly global warming, the results of which being aimed at influencing policy programmes regarding the management of them. The project had several key objectives covering understanding of the use values attached to recreational services, how climate change as linked to coral bleaching, affect the user’s support for coral reef ecosystem recovery and resilience.
Three major achievements were obtained from this work, namely:
• A comprehensive global database of coral reef literature related to recreational benefits was compiled
• An estimated value transfer was developed to evaluate various income levels of countries where methodological biases have been found in the coral reef valuation literature
• A methodological approach to estimating and evaluating a distinct vulnerability index of nations was devised
• A global survey related to recreational services, i.e. diving, was completed to assess the impact of coral bleaching under various management programmes, including coral reef restoration as well as marine protected areas (MPAs).
The main results include:
1. Stated preference biases/effects inflate willingness to pay (WTP) for both high and low income economies, was the outcomes were more pronounced for low income economies where the inflated bias rate was found to be 110% as compared with 48% for rich income economies.
2. Vulnerability indices (VIs) levels differ between developed and developing countries, with Australia having low ones when compared with Thailand or Indonesia and China had the highest of all. The declining trend in VI scores among countries indicates that there has been a learning curve across the relevant, i.e. countries have been intervening better after social or economic shocks.
3. The economic benefit relating to scuba-diving in the MPAs was estimated at US$13 per dive, although these values depend on the support from users as well as the total number of visitors to the, with both factors being important in relation to covering the administration and implementation costs of MPAs.
4. The benefit outcomes of coral reef restoration programmes after coral bleaching events at the global level reveal that for high coral coverage the value stands at US$40/ha, whereas for low coral coverage areas this was estimated at US$95/ha. Therefore, it is important that greater efforts are made to maintain the corals, in particular, the ecological state of low coverage areas before it becomes it too expensive to do so when the system is on the verge of collapse.
The BIOCORE project is relevant at the policy level in three distinct ways:
Firstly, analysis of the extant literature on coral reef systems that has used valuation approaches has revealed that benefit transfer estimations are biased. Indeed, if such biases are not accounted for when transferring values from study to policy sites, then these will be over or under-estimated depending on type of biases. Secondly, given the construction of vulnerability indices involved using three different calculation methods that were compared to identify their particular strengths and weaknesses, this can assist planners or researchers in the future to select the essential given components when estimating vulnerability related to human well-being. Thirdly, by estimating the benefit values associated with coral reef restoration as well as MPAs after coral bleaching events, this provides policy makers with reference values to improve the ecological functions of the coral reef ecosystem by establishing feasible pricing strategies for users. Moreover, such values can help planners as well as researchers in ecological and recreational modeling when calculating the cost of policy inaction when faced with threats, such as climate change.