Assessing the economic value of coral reefs to Solomon Island communities
Solomon Islands reefs provide valuable goods and services. Photo credit Simon Albert.
Coral reefs under pressure
Coastal communities in Solomon Islands, like many island countries, rely heavily on their coral reef resources for subsistence and income generation. These reefs, similar to others throughout the world are under pressure from human induced impacts and over harvesting. In Solomon Islands, a growing demand for coral for the international aquarium and curio trade, as well as a local demand for betel nut lime (made from live coral) further intensifies stress on the reefs. The collection of coral for these activities can result in the removal of specific coral types, and localised destruction of the reef habitat. This in turn can have major ecological impacts on other reef dependent species like fish and invertebrates. The degradation of the reef can affect the resilience of the whole ecosystem, and its ability to recover from both natural and anthropogenic impacts. A damaged reef system may also lead to negative socio-economic flow-on effects to the communities’ dependant on them.
Looking for Solomon Island solutions
Case study communities provide answers
Research provides economic basis for reef management decisions
Although based only on a few case-study communities, the project will provide the first estimates of the economic value of coral reefs in the Solomon Islands. With the addition of national level statistics, a bigger picture understanding of the economic value of Solomon Islands reefs and the role that extractive activities (such as the wild harvest of corals for the aquarium, curio and local trades) play in this economic picture can be built into national policy. Through partnerships with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources this information and data will contribute to the development of Solomon Island Coral Management Plan and the National Aquaculture Plan which are key activities for 2012 as outlined in the MFMR 2011 – 2012 Corporate Plan. The outcomes from this project will also be incorporated into appropriately targeted communication and awareness materials for communities to increase basic awareness about destructive activities. It is expected that valuable recommendations regarding the potential of sustainable coral farming and broader reef management practices will have application in many other countries within the Coral Triangle.