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What is the importance of coral reefs?

• Coral reefs are one of the most important marine habitats in shallow tropical
seas. Coral reefs are extremely productive ecosystems and provide humans with
many services.

Services of Coral Reef Ecosystem

Provisioning Services Cultural services:

Regulating Services Supporting Services


Provisioning Services: Products obtained from ecosystems
➢Coral reefs support human life and livelihoods and are important economically. Nearly 500
million people depend - directly and indirectly – on coral reefs for their livelihoods
➢FOOD:
• A km2 of well-managed coral reef can yield an average of 15 tonnes of fish and other seafood every year. Coral reefs
worldwide yield a total value of over US$100 billion per year from food alone.
• Primary source of protein for over 1 billion people
• it is estimated that nearly 30 million of the poorest human populations in the world depend entirely on coral reefs for
their food
➢Medicinal values in both traditional as well as allopathic medicine.
• Some hard coral species are used in bone grafts.
• natural sunscreen products
• The Caribbean sea squirt (Ecteinascidia turbinata) has a chemical that is being used to treat difficult
cancers. 50% of current cancer medication research focuses on marine organisms found on coral reefs.
• non-addictive pain killers
➢Ornamental Resources for jewellery, and aquariums.
➢Mining for Building Materials.
Regulating Services: services that ecosystems provide by acting as regulator

• coral reefs protect the shoreline, providing a physical barrier, a wall,


against tidal surges, extreme weather events, ocean currents, tides,
winds and waves hitting coasts.
• In doing so, they prevent coastal erosion, flooding and loss of
infrastructure. Because of this, they serve to reduce huge costs
involved with destruction and displacement due to extreme weather
events.
• The value of this protective service of coral reefs is estimated at 314
million USD in Indonesia.
Supporting Services: Supporting services are those that are necessary for the
production of all other ecosystem services.

• Coral reefs are an essential part of land development or growth


The natural action of waves breaks pieces of calcified coral and these are
washed up onto beaches. Through the process of natural physical
breakdown, these larger pieces are broken into smaller and smaller pieces
and eventually become part of the rubble, building these beaches.
• Coral reefs have very high diversity:
Covering less than one percent of the ocean floor, reefs support an
estimated twenty-five percent of all marine life, with over 4,000 species of
fish alone. Reefs provide spawning, nursery, refuge and feeding areas for a
large variety of organisms, including sponges, cnidarians, worms, crustaceans
(including shrimp, spiny lobsters and crabs), molluscs (including
cephalopods), echinoderms (including starfish, sea urchins and sea
cucumbers), sea squirts, sea turtles and sea snakes.
In fact they are dubbed the rain forests of the oceans because of this
immense diversity.
• Coral reefs have high primary
productivity.
Zooxanthellae photosynthesise and
produce their own food (like green plants
do on land) and corals benefit from this
association. Because of the immense
diversity of coral reefs, there is a great
deal of exchange of nutrients and primary
productivity (food production) is very high.
Thus reefs are important for sustaining
Marine food chain as they are the base
level of food chain. Destroying of corals
disrupts marine food chain and food web.
Cultural services: These are the nonmaterial benefits people obtain
from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, recreation
etc
• Tourism: Coral reefs are important recreational sites for snorkelers,
scuba divers, recreational fishermen and beach lovers.
In Seychelles, tourism was estimated to have generated one fifth of
GDP and over 60% of foreign exchange earnings
In the Maldives, tourism contributes more than 60% of foreign
exchange receipts, over 90% of government tax revenue comes from
import duties and tourism-related taxes, and almost 40% of the
workforce is employed in the industry.
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef generates well over US$1 billion per year.
Sustainably manged coral reef-based tourism can also provide
significant alternative or additional sources of income to poorer coastal
communities in developing countries.
Economic Value:
• Coral reefs provide an estimated $352,000/ha/yr based on their values (e.g.,
recreation, fish habitat, coastal protection from storms) (Costanza et al. 2014).
• The value of coral reefs globally is $9.9 trillion USD.
• At least 94 countries and territories benefit from reef tourism. In 23 of these, reef
tourism accounts for more than 15 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
• In one estimate, the total net benefit per year of the world’s coral reefs is $29.8
billion. Tourism and recreation account for $9.6 billion of this amount, coastal
protection for $9.0 billion, fisheries for $5.7 billion, and biodiversity for $5.5
billion.
• The global costs of coral bleaching are calculated to range from $20.0 billion (a
moderate bleaching scenario) to over $84.0 billion (a severe bleaching scenario).
• The contribution to employment of a healthy Great Barrier Reef to Australia’s
economy is estimated at 53,800 full time jobs.