Title: Coastal capital : Belize, the economic contribution of Belize's coral reefs and mangroves
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00095906/00002
 Material Information
Title: Coastal capital : Belize, the economic contribution of Belize's coral reefs and mangroves
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Burke, Lauretta
Cooper, Emily
Bood, Nadia
Publisher: World Resources Institute
Place of Publication: Washington, D.C.
Publication Date: 2009
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095906
Volume ID: VID00002
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


This item has the following downloads:

PDF ( 1 MBs ) ( PDF )

Full Text

coastal and marine ecosystems provide vitally
important goods and services to countries in the
Caribbean. This study looks at only three out of
the many culturally and economically valuable services
provided by these ecosystems in Belize. Even within this
narrowed scope, this study finds that the country's coastal
resources are extremely valuable. Belize's coral reefs and
mangrove-lined coasts provide critical protection against
erosion and wave-induced damages from tropical storms;
they have supported artisanal fishing communities for
generations; and they stand at the center of vibrant tour-
ism industry, drawing snorkelers, divers and sport fisher-
men from all over the world.
Despite their importance, these benefits are frequently
overlooked or underappreciated in coastal investment
and policy decisions. Unchecked coastal development,
overfishing, and pressures from tourism threaten the
country's reefs, with the additional threats of warming
seas, fiercer storms, and other climate-related changes

looming on the horizon. Fish populations, including
commercially valuable sport-fishing species and colorful
reef fish, will diminish if they lose the mangrove forests
they rely upon as critical nursery habitats. Coastal proper-
ties will become increasingly vulnerable to storms and
erosion, and reef-related tourism will suffer as reefs and
mangroves decline.
Belize's government, NGOs, and private sector have
begun to recognize the importance of coastal ecosystems
to the economy. Nevertheless, the amount currently
invested in protecting Belize's coral reefs and mangroves
is very small when compared to the contribution of these
resources to the national economy. The World Resources
Institute (WRI), in collaboration with WWF Central
America, assessed the economic contribution of these ser-
vices at the national level and within individual Marine
Protected Areas in Belize. For the full report and method-
ology, please visit www.wri. ort projc t/valuation-caribbean-

Key Findings

This study evaluated the average annual contribu-
tion of reef- and mangrove-associated tourism,
fisheries, and shoreline protection services to the
economy of Belize.


High estimate
* Low estimate


Coral reef- and mangrove-associated tourism contribut-
ed an estimated US$150 million to $196 million to the
national economy in 2007 (12 percent to 15 percent of
GDP). Fishing is an important cultural tradition, as well
as a safety net and livelihood for many coastal Belizeans.
Annual economic benefits from reef and mangrove-
dependent fisheries is estimated at between US$14-16
million. Reefs and mangroves also protect coastal proper-
ties from erosion and wave-induced damage, providing
an estimated US$231 to US$347 million in avoided
damages per year. By comparison, Belize's GDP in 2007
was US$1.3 billion. These estimates capture only three of
the many services provided by coral reefs and mangroves,
and should not be considered the "total" value of these
resources. These numbers should be regarded as a lower
bound estimate.


Tourism and Fisheries

Coral reefs and mangroves are highly interconnected habi-
tats, physically supporting each other and providing habi-
tat for many species. For example, mangroves filter sedi-
ment and pollutants from coastal runoff, supporting the
clean water favored by corals. Many species important to
fisheries and tourism rely upon mangrove habitat for part
of their life-cycle.

This study did not directly evaluate the independent con-
tributions of mangroves and coral reefs to fisheries and
tourism services, but assessed their collective value. We
examined the proximity of mangroves and coral reefs
across Belize to break out these values into portions
which a) rely exclusively on coral reefs, b) rely exclusively
on mangroves, and c) depend upon both. We estimate
that approximately US$60-78 million of Belize's tourism
revenue per year stems from the presence of healthy man-
groves. Several of Belize's major commercial species rely
on mangroves during some portion of their life. We esti-
mate that mangroves contribute approximately US$3 to $4
million in fisheries value per year.

WRI's shoreline protection y
analysis does differentiate
between the protection
provided by mangroves
and reefs. Mangroves play
an especially important role
in buffering against storm
surge and reducing erosion. We
estimate that Belize's mangroves con-
tribute US$111-167 million in avoided damages per year.


Coral Reefs Mangroves Contribution
Tourism $135-176 m $60-78 m $150-196 m
Fisheries $13-14 m $3-4 m $14-16 m
Shoreline Protection $120-180 m $111-167 m $231-347 m
*Mangrove & reef fisheries and tourism values are not additive, as
they include revenues that rely on both habitats.

c 200U
E 200



Preserving Value: Shoreline Protection

Valuable tourist centers and residential properties,
as well as most of Belize's major cities and towns,
lie along its coast. Coral reefs and mangroves play
a vital role protecting this shoreline from both routine
waves and the more severe impacts of tropical storms.
Nearly 700 km2 of land in Belize was identified as vulner-
able to erosion and damage from waves, which comprises
about 3% of all land in Belize and over 85% of land
within 1 km of the coast.
Coral Reefs: The Belize Barrier Reef, the longest in the
Western Hemisphere, shelters most of the windward coast
of Belize. About two-thirds of the mainland coast is pro-
tected by coral reefs, as well as the windward coast of
most cayes. The degree of protection provided by a reef
varies with reef type, depth, and distance from shore, as
well as with coastal context-the elevation and slope of
the shore, the geologic origin of the area, and the wave
energy along the coast. Emergent reefs, such as the barrier
reef, can mitigate over 3/4 of wave energy. This project
developed and applied a new, innovative method for
evaluating the role of reefs and mangroves in shoreline
protection. Reefs close to shore provide the most protec-
tion, as waves have less chance to regenerate. The barrier
reef off of Ambergris Caye, for example, contributes
about 40% of the stability of the coast, due to its close
proximity to the shore. The atolls and barrier reef, though
further offshore, also contribute to protection of the cayes
and mainland coast.
The annual value of avoided damages through shore-
line protection services provided by coral reefs is esti-
mated at US$120-180 million for Belize. The impor-
tance of coral reefs in protecting the shoreline will
increase with the rising sea level and increased storm
intensity associated with climate change and warming
Mangroves: Unlike coral reefs, which can protect wide
swaths of the coast, mangroves protect the immediately
adjacent shoreline. Mangroves, which can mitigate the
force of both waves and storm surge, shelter about half of
the mainland coastline and about 75% of the shoreline
of cayes. We estimate that there are between 400 and 420
sq. km of mangrove within 1km of the coastline of Belize



Coral Reef
S Contribution
to Shoreline
/ Protection (%)
Not protected
/'I/ 24 26%
26 30%
/ 30 -40%
= Coral Reefs

(including all cayes). Where mangroves are present, they
contribute between 10-35% of the stability of the shore-
line. The value of shoreline protection services provid-
ed by mangroves is estimated at US$111-167 million
per year.

- 2

Earning Power: Coral Reefs and Mangroves

Tourism is a vitally important industry in Belize, contrib-
uting almost a quarter of GDP. Over 250,000 overnight
tourists visited in 2007, coming to see spectacular attrac-
tions both inland and on the coast. We estimate that 64
percent of "tourist days" in Belize are spent in the coastal .
areas and involve reef- or mangrove-related activities
ranging from snorkeling and sport fishing to lounging on
a coralline beach. Decisions on how to manage coastal
development and visitation pressure on reefs have impor-
tant implications for coral reef health, and therefore for
the future attractiveness of Belize as a destination.
In 2007, reef- and mangrove-associated tourists spent
an estimated US$150 to $196 million on accommoda-
tion, reef recreation, and other expenses. Additional indi-
rect economic impacts, including locally manufactured
materials that support the industry, contribute another
US$26-$69 million a year. Combined, these result in a FISHERIES
total economic contribution of US$175-$262 million The size of Belize's fishing industry pales in comparison
from coral reef- and mangrove-associated tourism in to tourism, but it remains one of the country's primary
2007. Tourists spent between US$30-$37 million on export industries, and is an important livelihood and
sport fishing and diving alone (not counting accommo- safety net for coastal communities. This study focuses on
dation, etc.). These are "high value" industries that are commercial revenues from fish that spend at least part of
especially sensitive to reef condition, and thus particular- their life cycle in reefs, mangroves, or reef-protected habi-
ly vulnerable to degradation. Belize's cruise industry, by tat. In Belize, almost all commercial species meet these
comparison, brings a high volume of tourists-620,000 criteria.
in 2007-but has a very small economic impact com-
in 2007-but has a very small economic impact com- Approximately 1.2 million pounds of fish were sold to
pared to the overnight sector. Only 10% of cruise visitors Belize's Fishermen's Co-ops in 2007. Over 80 of that
Belize's Fishermen's Co-ops in 2007. Over 80% of that
engage in reef- or mangrove-related activities (including total was exported, earning US$11.2 million in gross
total was exported, earning US$11.2 million in gross
snorkeling, wildlife viewing, diving, etc.), bringing an
revenue. In addition, Co-ops earned an estimated US$1
estimated US$5.3 to $6.4 million in revenues and taxes m i l s
million in local sales. Fishermen also sell their catch to
to the country. Hence, while the negative impacts of
St ae local markets and restaurants, and distribute it to family
cruise tourism affect coastal
Sri a as and friends, contributing an additional US$1.9 to $3.5
and marine areas dis-
amillion per year to the economy. In total, reef- and
proportionately, mangrove-associated fisheries have an estimated direct
these areas reap economic impact of US$14 to $16 million per year.
very little eco- Belize's fisheries are threatened by overfishing, especially
nomic benefit of desirable finfish such as grouper and snapper, and will
from the also decline with the loss of healthy coral reef and man-
industry, grove habitat.

's ..;. ':


Belize's MPAs: A Valuable but Under-funded System

The Marine Protected Area (MPA) system of Belize is
well known and widely hailed as an example of
forward thinking in marine conservation. The sys-
tem consists of 18 protected areas managed primarily by
the Fisheries and Forestry Departments in collaboration
with local NGOs. Belize's MPAs are an important draw
for divers, snorkelers and sport fishermen, and contain
no-fishing areas that, when well-protected, help to main-
tain stocks of key commercial species.
Belize's MPAs provide an extremely good "value for
money" they generate economic benefits well beyond
the amount invested in their protection. MPA managers
reported approximately 115,000 visitors in 2007.
Although some were likely repeat visitors, this is still a
remarkable share of Belize's total 250,000 overnight visi-
tors that year (very few MPA visitors come from the cruise
lines). The average reef-related visitor spends approxi-
mately US$150 a day. If we associate one day with each
recorded visitor, over US$17 million in direct spending
can be associated with MPA tourism in 2007. Indirect
economic impacts contributed an additional $3.5 to 6.9
million to the economy. By relying solely on recorded
visitation, these figures significantly underestimate total
impact almost all of the MPA managers note that a
significant chunk (sometimes as much as 30%) of visita-
tion goes unrecorded.

Unfortunately, the current situation is not sustainable. At
most MPAs, management levels fall well below what is
needed to keep their reefs healthy and attractive to visitors
over the long-term. Visitation, investment, and manage-
ment levels vary widely across the system. Many MPAs rely
heavily on grant funding that may not be reliable from year
to year. Staff, fuel, and equipment limitations make it diffi-
cult to curb illegal fishing and monitor visitation in most
of the reserves. If the condition of the reefs and mangroves
protected by the system continues to decline, visitors may
decide MPAs are no longer worth the trip. This is especially
true for some of the most fragile sites, such as the rare
mangrove and reef habitats in the Pelican Cayes in South
Water Caye Marine Reserve, and Glover's Reef, below.
Belize's MPAs provide benefits well beyond what can be
measured in economic terms alone. Even with an
increase in government support, they will continue to be
an extraordinarily "good deal" and remain so much
further into the future. In recognition of both uncaptured
potential at some MPAs and the threat of losses from eco-
system decline at others, we recommend:
o Committing additional resources to a permanent fund
for MPA management
o Improving collection of basic indicators of human use
(e.g. visitation, recreation, and fisheries data)
o Capturing missing revenue improve fee collection
across the board.

Glover's Reef Marine Reserve. an atoll system enclosing
over 800 patch reefs, is especially popular with divers and
hosts a world-renowned research facility. It was designat-
ed a World Heritage Site in 1996. Guests visit from the
mainland or come for a week at a time to kayak. snor-
kel, and dive from one of the five resorts inside the
reserve. We estimate that between on-site resorts and
day-trip visitors, reef-related tourism in Glover's con-
tributes US$3.8-5.6 million a year to the economy.
Glover's also support critical habitat for key commercial
species, including lobster, conch, and grouper. Fisheries
revenues from inside the reserve-not counting potential
spillover if spawning sites are well managed-are estimated
at US$0.7 to 1.1 million for 2007. By comparison, the typi-
cal management budget allocated to the Fisheries
Department per MPA is $US100,000 a year, plus occasional
supplements for fuel.

.; i~i~i~ I,

Actions Needed

Coastal and marine ecosystems provide vitally
important goods and services to Belize's economy.
As these resources become increasingly threat-
ened, it is critical to recognize the value they provide, and
to incorporate them into decision-making. It is in the
long-term economic interest of Belize to:
1) Invest in management, monitoring, and compliance:
o Reinvigorate the Coastal Zone Management
Authority and Institute and build capacity for moni-
toring the state and use of coastal resources.
o Tighten fishing regulations and invest greater
resources in enforcement.
o Increase overall investment in MPAs. Improve fee
collection and monitoring of visitors.
o Build resilience to coral bleaching into the manage-
ment and expansion of the MPA network.

WRI and Economic Valuation of Coastal Resources
lht. \\ -,rld R-wl 'urcit._N InIIIiuit. (\\ I )launchit. thi- k ...i.it11
i .1pl.1 l pr11-Int- i .rIll lll- t.. i in _(li li t pi'It.- t n itk-
li h CI .1l p.iii'trit-.l It- pr i' t.t Lt n. I. 11i .l.rld %i -1n.1tit 'rI.1l
.1 %t. n tn t nit ttilt 11-, l 'l I- t 'liln litillh l u ,n 4 ir. rtt .inLr
li.llnl r I I\t'. \\ 1 I .11 1 tn iii'-r..lt. 1 I t-.l l -.1 p.l0. ll t I pt.rt, l1Ii
It C.11 C.11).ICIIN I,- p rt.p ii
't- \y tt.lni \.illi.li .111i n1 r.llt pull t .i .lrt.rt. Id i t t. -
nri .lilt irnd % ', i.ii kt.n it.f i 4' mil.illint rt.- iirtl-t .n1d I t- pi -
\I. d Ill.ir \.ilut- t.-tiii.lit.s tlh.it Ci.n Iht. u .d t, in rim pl.in-
n ,'llI .rI d d.k -i',,i n-l- .1ki, n

For More Information
Visit http://reefsatrisk.wri.org or contact:

Emily Cooper

Lauretta Burke

ec ocper','wri.or-g laurettaO'Wnr.oCirg

Nadia Bood
nt :od'wwf Ca. ora

2) Plan and implement development sensibly:
o Enforce land-use and development regulations in
the coastal zone.
o Minimize the loss of mangroves along the shoreline
they play an especially important role in fisheries
and shoreline protection.
o Conduct and thoroughly evaluate Environmental
Impact Assessments and subsequent compliance
plans for development in sensitive coastal areas,
such as the cayes.
o Incorporate sewage and solid waste disposal in plan-
ning for tourism development. The cost of appropri-
ate facilities can be compared to potential losses in
reef services from further degradation.
o In planning a long-term tourism strategy, the gov-
ernment should weigh revenues from cruise tourism
against potential economic losses from environmen-
tal impacts Tourism carrying capacity studies are

S\.11.1 ( \\ .111 -
o I \.llI .i tt di,, itrl' iutl i I r.rll_'f 't,, | i- n il' .1i d I.k -
r'r, ) ,i- p ,' ip ,,td I, i.i,,t.il dti_\-d ,ipnt.'nt pr ,It_'Ir ',

Project Partners
I lls p- 'Itt t uld il h-t I1.1\1 bt n p %%ilbl pWitil it l t l iht. 111-.1l-
lI.11 u pp lrl 'ft thil Oak Fouindation, ith Netherlands
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sw'edBio iht. C(ipbell
Foundationi .1nid iht. M.cArthltr Foundatioin Ilt pri 'lt
.' imn plt.m t.nit.J iln ,ll.ib ,l.r l WIn \,ith theli 1It.l/t. ffhit. itf
vWWF-Central .\mnerica Mlainvy ithr- p.artn.-r% in I .li/ti a.l%.
pr' \ l i.id d.ll t.l \ it\t t. tlt .1r n -.1 ll1i l l .1 Pl' .1 01.1-ild It.tilltI
.11-n1; l gliid .d i l t.i-l h I lt.- Iir-I lLit
A\l i ll,.\ l h \1tl ( 11ii, I I ht'Iil 'l \ Li i. f i I i t.L <, L -
\//L N 1h /I-- 10 1 0 ;0 1 iihl I tlitl h l 1t 11,,igi iitiF I 0l <,n\l
i l ,ii ni. r, Pi l .i r v rii ). l. ,iii tiit It It s .,

\S .ld. "i' ll. /t'l .''. .'i',f i \, .'t l .i' b.11' I I ..,i ( 1 il r

If l !' I;ch:,." \I ,ttin il\oni i,,. n 11,.1( hfin \l1n,11"' II -k, rc
LIh r. 'iol t hl! :' N .,mii. lt ih'. ct',in' ,tiii.. i ,. t.* l, l,.inl

( ,."'i ni oiiiii n ( hl i, t' l ( Il'n (t .'l f.'i

SORE opr E. Lo. Brk .od N. 2008. .osa ...tal *coomi .otibto f oa Re. f .0d .agoe s tBel-ze.
0ashington DC: World. Reo e itute.
PH.OTOCi J : o B ; C l s 0. n : .ris a *- .f .n : C l P o *
Manroes *. 10/Gld AL00. Fishing boat .0 0 0./Ndi IO D Bec .n bot*ioPz ie tGoe':U eDiha



University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs