Nathaniel Maynard 馬耐德

Nathaniel Maynard 馬耐德

Nathaniel Maynard is a Fulbright Fellow working with the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium. He is researching biological coral surveys and economic modelling in order to determine the total economic value of the Kenting National Park. He received his Master’s degree in International Environmental Policy the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

 

    Natural resource economics remains a powerful tool in both effective marine policy design and public advocacy. While total economic valuations now have a strong legal, policy, and cultural history in the United States, globally much work remains in understanding benefit allocation (NOAA 2013; Edgar et al. 2014). Where do the benefits of nature go? Generally, economists explain that this value goes to the public equally (Martín-López, Montes, and Benayas 2008). However, given certain inherent social inequalities, in reality, certain benefits go to certain groups or institutions first and only reach other sectors later.

    In my previous article, I shared initial results of the total economic value (TEV) of the Kenting National Park marine area. For an explanation of those methods, please refer to that article. This time, I propose an experimental methodology to map out the potential benefits of an ecosystem so we can better design marine resource policies to benefit the entire community.

 

Scope

    Covering most of the Hengchun peninsula, the Kenting National Park (KNP) represents a logical scope. However, given the importance of KNP for Taiwan, we must take into account the entire island in terms of benefits distributions. The benefits of these corals extend far beyond their physical boundaries through non-market values, international research projects, tourism, and education. Thus, our scope extends to the entire population of Taiwan.

    Within Taiwan, I identify nine broad stakeholder groups: non-human life, surf tourism, snorkel/dive tourism, hotels/restaurants, government, local residents, tourists, fishermen, and academic institutions. Individuals can of course exist within multiple groups or between groups.

    The KNP’s ecosystem services breakdown as follows: provisioning services including raw materials, fisheries, and medical resources; regulating services including storm buffering, erosion prevention, and climate regulation; cultural services including tourism, cultural benefits, and science/education; and supporting services including primary production and species/ ecosystem protection.

 

Distribution

    In order to roughly estimate the distribution of values, we need to make some assumptions. The benefits do not cascade or synergize into other areas. For simplicity, we will assume the first stakeholder group receives the majority of these benefits and does not immediately pass it on. Next, the benefits are equally allocated within a given service. For example, if five stakeholder groups benefit from primary production each group receives the same benefit divided five ways from the initial value. Thus, this distribution exercise looks at the relative differences between groups rather than within services.

    In order to calculate the distribution, we will take the TEV and divide it by the relevant service contribution and the number of services it provides.

    Table 1This table shows the broad vale level allocations of primary resources from Kenting coral reefs. Despite providing the largest diversity of benefits, ecosystem services provide the lowest level of relative value. This is to be expected given the size of the tourism industry and the cultural importance of KNP.

 

Value Type

Initial Value

# of Categories

Value per category (NT$)

Ecosystem Services

$427,840,590

7

$61,120,084

Tourism

$3,107,885,880

2

$ 1,553,942,940

Non-market

$11,877,878,000

2

$5,938,939,000

 

 

    Next, we will look at the primary areas of service values. To be clear, only the primary recipient of that value counts as a category. For example, improved fisheries benefit all categories except for surf tourism. While surfers probably enjoy eating seafood occasionally and enjoy viewing a greater diversity of fish species during dives, they do not directly benefit economically from increased fisheries. This same logic applies to all categories and services.

 

Provisioning Services

    Often called direct services, provisioning services provide market benefits to human populations. This table uses √ to indicate if a stakeholder group receives primary benefits from this service.

Stakeholder Category

Raw materials

Fisheries

Medicinal resources

Non-human life

 

Surf Tourism

 

 

 

Snorkel/Dive Tourism

 

Hotel/ Restaurants

 

 

Government

 

Local Residents

 

Tourists

 

Fishermen

 

Academic Institutes

 

Regulating Services

    Often called in-direct services, regulating services provide market and non-market benefits to human populations, they often require economic surveys to reveal the value from other sources of data. This table uses √ to indicate if a stakeholder group receives primary benefits from this service.

 

Stakeholder Group

Storm buffering

Erosion prevention

Climate regulation

Non-human life

Surf Tourism

 

Snorkel/Dive Tourism

 

Hotel/ Restaurants

 

Government

Local Residents

 

Tourists

 

Fishermen

 

 

 

Academic Institutes

 

 

 

Supporting Services

    Often called in-direct services, regulating services provide market and non-market benefits to human populations, they often require economic surveys to reveal the value from other sources of data. This table uses √ to indicate if a stakeholder group receives primary benefits from this service.

 

Stakeholder Groups

Primary production

Species/ecosystem protection

Non-human life

Surf Tourism

 

 

Snorkel/Dive Tourism

Hotel/ Restaurants

 

 

Government

 

Local Residents

 

 

Tourists

 

 

Fishermen

 

Academic Institutes

 

 

Cultural Services

    Often called existence value, cultural services provide non-market benefits to human populations, they require direct interviews, surveys, and economic analysis to reveal the values. These have some of the strongest basis in litigation. This table uses √ to indicate if a stakeholder group receives primary benefits from this service.

 

Stakeholder Group

Tourism/recreation

Cultural benefits

Science/education

Non-human life

 

 

Surf Tourism

 

 

Snorkel/Dive Tourism

 

Hotel/ Restaurants

 

Government

Local Residents

 

Tourists

Fishermen

 

 

Academic Institutes

 

 

 

Results and Discussion

Sector

NT$ Value/ Year

Surf Tourism

              $284,457,192

Snorkel/Dive Tourism

$1,865,824,067

Hotel/ Restaurants

$1,269,187,018

Local Residents

$1,284,467,039

Fishermen

$1,015,289,868

Tourists

$1,647,486,072

Government

$2,906,580,637

Academic Institutes

$2,647,590,147

Direct Community

$5,719,225,185

Outside Community

$7,201,656,857

Non-human life

$1,243,814,544

 

    Quickly glancing at the breakdown, we can immediately see that those living outside the scope community of the Hengchun Peninsula receive most of the benefits. The potential underestimation of the ecosystem services as well as the larger number of recipients shrinks the initial value. The highest value categories go to people who live outside the park in the form of existence and tourism value.

    While surf tourism seems small at first, recognizing the small number of surf sites and age of the industry, it is actually rather large. Furthermore, many do not recognize the role coral play in storm buffering, erosion prevention, and wave formation.

    Two areas of concern arise when looking at this initial distribution estimate:  fishermen receive one of the smallest benefit shares and have to bear almost the entirety of the conservation costs. A marine protected area requires fishermen to give up fishing temporarily and sometimes permanently for ecosystem health. In return, they do not receive nearly the same benefits as other sectors.

    Also of concern is the tourism industry. If we had used market benefits, they would receive much greater value. However, this analysis focuses on natural resource values, and as such, many of the hotels and restaurants, while benefiting from the region, do not necessarily require coral to operate. There is still debate over whether or not coral health directly correlates to increased tourism (Craig 2008). The tourism sector does not pay back their revenues into conservation outside of standard taxes. As tourists come, they demand fish, increase demands on wastewater infrastructure, and trample coral. Without properly redirecting benefits from tourism back into the local community, the KNP region is unconsciously punishing local residents and rewarding outside visitors.

 

Recommendations

    First, regarding methodology, the author recommends combining this information with ecological and social monitoring. Much work has been done in estimating the flow of market benefits as well as the spread of ecosystems. Combining this natural resource value with these other models could lead to fully-integrated simulation and monitoring. Improved simulations would help local government make improved management decisions.

    In terms of policy recommendations, the KNP needs more financial support to ensure that it can accomplish its conservation management directives. Supporting conservation is an investment into the future and into local communities, but maintenance costs do exist. Marine reserves need to be monitored, the public educated, and much needed monitoring conducted. If further supported, the KNP will continue to spread benefits into the local community.

    Importantly, payment for ecosystem services (PES) has been successfully implemented across the globe to transfer high revenues from tourism into local communities. Taiwan’s fishing industry is aging and will need support for career transitions and life adjustments. Is it fair that fishermen currently bear the greatest cost of this transition and receive the smallest benefits? Lastly, how can the outside community of tourists, academics, and the greater Taiwan public contribute? Eco-tourism, or tourism with an ecological and sustainability focus, represents a win-win for the public: higher quality recreational experiences combined with guaranteed protection. Academic initiatives that specifically support local communities can help redistribute the brunt of primary benefits. The greater Taiwan public can support new marine legislation, especially integrated coastal management.

 

References

Craig, Kundis. 2008. “Coral Reefs, Fishing, and Tourism : Tensions in U.S. Ocean Law and Policy Reform.” Stanford Environmental Law Journal 27 (3): 1–41.

Edgar, Graham J., Rick D. Stuart-Smith, Trevor J. Willis, Stuart Kininmonth, Susan C. Baker, Stuart Banks, Neville S. Barrett, et al. 2014. “Global Conservation Outcomes Depend on Marine Protected Areas with Five Key Features.” Nature (February 5). doi:10.1038/nature13022. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature13022.html#access.

Martín-López, Berta, Carlos Montes, and Javier Benayas. 2008. “Economic Valuation of Biodiversity Conservation: The Meaning of Numbers.” Conservation Biology : The Journal of the Society for Conservation Biology 22 (3) (June): 624–35. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.00921.x. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18410400.

NOAA, Coral Reef Conservation Program. 2013. “The Total Economic Value of U.S. Coral Reefs A Review of the Literature.” Silver Spring, MD.

 

Seeing the Coral for the Reef

Saturday, 28 February 2015 12:06

 

     According to research by the Kenting National Park (KNP), more than 80% of Taiwanese people will visit the park at some point in their life, and of those, 70% will go to one of the park’s coral areas. Over 400,000 international and domestic tourists visit the area each month. These tourists bring critical revenue to the Hengchun Peninsula supporting livelihoods and infrastructure. At the same time, rising tourism increases overfishing, water pollution, and coastal development, all of which damage marine biodiversity. Humans need both economic development and natural integrity, but how do we balance these sometimes-competing goals?

 

     In the past, policy makers tended to focus on either growth or conservation to the detriment of both. Natural resource economics helps us understand ecosystems in monetary terms using social science--bringing our relationship with nature into the realm of financial planning. Once we know an ecosystem’s value, we can find appropriate legal settlements, reprioritize development goals, and help raise public awareness for better conservation. No ecosystem needs more protection right now than coral reefs, the beating heart of Kenting.

 

     Coral, the ocean’s calcium rainforests, supports 25% of the world’s marine biodiversity while covering less than 1% of its spatial area. Providing food for 300 million people globally, they support entire economies and cultures. They provide medicine, protection from storms, and all-important spiritual fulfillment.  We call these beneficial attributes ecosystem services.

 

Provisioning

Regulating

Cultural

Supporting

Food

Storm buffering

Tourism/recreation

Primary production

Raw materials

Erosion prevention

Cultural benefits

Nutrient cycling

Medicinal/ Genetic resources

Climate regulation

Science/education

Species/ecosystem protection

Table 1: Coral Ecosystem Services

 

 

     But what exactly is coral? Made up of millions of small polyps, coral is split into two categories: hard and soft. Hard corals form a solid calcium skeleton (See Picture 1). Overtime, these grow into reefs: some small and some very large such as Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Soft corals do not have this skeleton (See Picture 2). Similar to plants, both types use photosynthesis to generate energy, and they also collect nutrients from the water. The coral polyps do not photosynthesize themselves (See Picture 3). Instead, zooxanthellae, a symbiotic bacterium residing in their tissue, do this solar conversion. When the corals become stressed, the zooxanthellae leave, which deprives the coral of energy. This causes bleaching; the coral loses its color and eventually dies. High temperatures, excessive pollution, invasive species, and acidic waters all cause coral bleaching. These factors also synergize with other threats accelerating coral loss.

 

     Despite their importance, we are looking at a future without coral. Climate change combined with other factors threatens to destroy 50% of the world’s coral by 2050. The Caribbean has already lost 80% of its original coral cover. Remember, these threats happen simultaneously and tend to exaggerate each other. Excess nitrogen waste (usually animal waste or fertilizer) in the water causes algae growth, and fish usually eat those algae. Overfishing collapses fish stocks letting the algae grow over and out-compete the coral. These threats combine with pollutants from runoff (oil, pesticides, etc.) weakening coral communities. Stressed coral can easily succumb to bleaching and disease, and typhoons cause longer lasting damage.

 

     The 1997 El Niño caused unusually high water temperatures throughout the coral world bleaching a tremendous amount. In some areas, coral cover fell by 80%. Shockingly, several groups of coral in Kenting showed no bleaching despite seeing 40% of nearby coral reefs bleached. This led to the discovery of a new type of strong coral that resists climate change. These strong coral evolved near a current upwelling; this frequently raised and lowered the water temperature, giving the coral extra resilience to rapid temperature change.  

 

     Even the strongest coral cannot resist a careless diver stepping on it, a misplaced boat anchor, or tons of sediment raining down. Protected areas help guard coral against destructive fishing practices, and integrated coastal management ensures prosperity does not cost us our marine ecosystems. Integrated community-supported management tools prevent coral from declining in the face of global scale changes. It gives them the chance to thrive.  

 

     The Kenting Coast (See Figure 1) provides its corals with protection that other Pacific corals do not normally receive. Initially slated for industrial development, the area was granted “National Park Status” in 1984 helping to preserve the region. Taiwan has over 300 species of coral with 250 of those found along the Kenting coastline. 
 
     The Hengchun Peninsula also has a huge array of fish biodiversity with over 1,500 reef fish living in or around corals. Unfortunately, a legacy of overfishing and current illegal fishing prevents fish stocks from fully recovering. Combining this with typhoons and tourism development means the future of Kenting corals is uncertain. How do you balance the need to support local communities with the responsibility to protect coral?  
 
 

Measuring Benefits 

     My research analyzes the total economic value (TEV) of the KNP marine area and then incorporates this information into policy recommendations. Economic valuation builds in ecosystem benefits into development choices and creates an avenue for all stakeholders to come together. Tourism, fishing, science, and the wider community need to work together to maximize their value. First, people need to know how much value they have. As an added bonus, by going through a valuation process, we also notice other information or management gaps. 
 
   For example, near the start of my project, we found that nobody had a current map of the coral reef area. To solve this, we took sea floor depth maps and digitized the maximum depth of coral, 30 meters deep, to the shoreline (See Figure 2). The area between these two points gave us the maximum coral area covering 137km2. We ground trothed these measurements against field surveys, some of which are done with live coral monitoring (See Picture 4).  Corals create an area of influence beyond their living flesh, and managers need to understand this area of influence in order to determine successful interventions.
 
     What does conservation success mean? Who do we count the benefits for? One way to do this is to value the coral for the local community. We have many methods to value coral, but primarily divide them into two classes: market and non-market. Market values include fishing, tourism, education, and medicinal research. We can also look at indirect values, such as the benefits coral provides to fisheries, in reducing storm surges, and in generating biodiversity. Non-market value is the personal value you hold for coral. 
 
 

Benefits Transferred 

     Economic studies usually take years and large teams. Since I am only one person, I started out using a “benefits transfer.” This method uses pre-existing values and adapts them to a specific location. Fortunately, most of the existing studies on coral reef economics come from Hawaii or Southeast Asia allowing for minimal “transfer bias.” Although Taiwan is much more biodiverse, it shares many characteristics with Hawaii including similar political system, similar biodiversity, and similar economic structure. Taiwan shares biodiversity, cultural views, and proximity with Southeast Asian countries though levels of income and dependence on fisheries differ.
 
     By analyzing these aggregate “meta-values,” we can soften the bias of individual studies and create estimates for the whole reef. Other studies assess the market value of fish or replacing corals with sea walls, or they try value a world without coral. Since tourism in Kenting is massive, with well over 7 million visitors per year, we needed to use another method besides benefits transfer. I decided to use the willingness to pay (WTP) method. 
 
     Each time you buy something, you would always pay a little more if needed. Economists call this extra amount you didn’t pay “consumer surplus.”  The same thought process applies for visiting a coral reef. Consumer surplus, or simply, additional recreational value, is well studied, and we can use this estimate to gauge the additional value people would be willing to pay to see coral reefs. We multiply the WTP value by the 5.2 million coral area tourists to find NT$ 15.7 billion per year in recreational consumer surplus. Keep in mind this is an initial benefits transfer value and not the market price. 
 
     We can also estimate the personal value Taiwanese people place on corals. At least 80% of Taiwanese people have been to Kenting at some point in their life. As the first national park in the country, it is a piece of Taiwanese identity and source of pride. How do you value a feeling? One way is to ask someone how much he or she would pay to protect an ecosystem. Adapting a similar study from Hawaii, we can estimate the value Taiwanese households place on coral by determining their WTP for increased protection. We simply multiply the WTP by the number of households to find NT$ 24 billion per year. 
 
     Lastly, coral provides a variety of additional benefits both directly and indirectly to the local economy. This ranges from coastal protection from storms to medicine to fisheries. Previous work has found average meta-values for these services from healthy reefs. By subtracting the tourism value from these values, we can apply this method to the 137km2 of reef area to find an initial estimate of remaining ecosystem services. This value is NT$ 401 million per year, relatively small compared to the two previous values. 
 
NT$ 39.87 Billion (Total Economic Value)
 NT$ 24 billion (Non-use) + NT$ 15.7 billion (Tourism) + NT$ 401 million (Ecosystem Services)
 
     
     Keep in mind economic value is not financial value. We cannot liquidate the corals in times of financial crisis or use it to buy things. Economic value includes financial value, but it is not the same thing: it is a relative measure of the importance of a good or service. This means the value is non-exclusive; these benefits do not remain with just a single individual. They cascade out of the reefs throughout Taiwan. A person who comes to Kenting for the coral supports bus drivers, railways, restaurants, dive shops, and even aquariums. Economic value is a relative indicator of importance using a common value: the new Taiwan dollar. 
 
     The TEV of Kenting’s coral reefs based on benefits transfer is nearly NT$ 41 billion with almost half coming from tourism consumer surplus, another large portion from personal WTP, and the remainder from estimated ecosystem services. This does not include the market value of tourism and is most likely an underestimate. In addition, this model uses the most conservative measures when possible.
 
     This initial value helps us decide where to look next when further analyzing TEV. Fisheries and other ecosystem services do not seem to provide significant economic value, but tourism does. The aquarium educates millions of people, which helps increase the value of the experiences in Kenting. One other thing to consider is if this method accurately expresses the value of the ecosystem itself, or if a more refined method is required.  While an important first step, the rest of the valuation journey remains. 
 
     In the following months, I will interview Kenting community members to help verify this data. We need to better estimate the potential economic benefits of medical breakthroughs, sustainable tourism development, and most of all, use this information in economic simulations. Once we have this data, we can really use the values to guide planning decisions in Kenting. 
 
     I am fortunate to research in Kenting, one of the most fascinating places on earth. A national park with a power plant inside and a history of overfishing matched with super corals. Medical breakthroughs occur next to real-time coral monitoring. Ocean economics brings these diverse sectors together and helps people realize the true wealth of their coralline paradise. We can take the biological details of the coral and match it to the region wide benefits of the reef. Using economics, we can finally see the coral and the reef for their true value. 
 
 

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