Economic valuation of coral reef ecosystem service of coastal protection: A pragmatic approach
The identification and economic valuation of ecosystem services (ES) are becoming important components of coral reef management. In many contexts, protection of human assets against coastal floods is one of the most important ES provided by coral reefs. The methods utilized to characterize this ES should be able to accommodate situations with low data availability, without sacrificing robustness. In this paper, we suggest such an approach that utilizes expert opinion and does not require copious amounts of data. Our primary objective is to find a balance between simple and complex models that can be used in a data scarce environment, to produce an economic valuation of the coral reef ES of protection against coastal floods. The approach has three steps: (i) identify geographic zones and assets at risk, (ii) identify the contributing role of coral reefs in the protection of coasts and, (iii) value the annual repair costs of assets through the avoided damage cost approach. The proposed method seems appropriate for advocacy with policy makers, but appears to be less effective for small scale approaches, such as those required for Payment for ES negotiations or marine spatial planning.