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Emily Shu
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Coastal Capital: Belize As other members of the class addressed, it is clear from the article and from past readings that Belize’s coral reefs and mangroves are an economic and environmental asset that must be protected. I thought the use of economic valuation was important because it shows just how much the reefs and mangroves currently contribute in economic value. Though I agree with Bailey that this amount is only a baseline and that it would be more accurate to measure willingness to pay, I do worry that without proper education on just how serious the situation is, locals, tourists, and consequently policy makers will not consider the tradeoffs and look only at the short-run benefits of the large margin and thus, maintain status quo. Despite my belief that there is a genuine willingness and drive to encourage conservation, I am skeptical about the ability of policy makers to act because as some people have pointed out in the class, they have already been inundated with information - how much research is enough? One item that caught my attention in the article was its discussion on cruise tourism and how the negative impacts of the boats greatly outweigh the economic benefits. It will be interesting to see if the government acts upon this information at all. Venice suffers from over pollution due to these large ships and the Italian government has made efforts to ban the ships from the canals. The Economic Value of the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve, a Coral Reef Marine Protected Area in Belize Like others in the class, I was intrigued to see that this study incorporated use and non-use values for both the community at large and specifically fishermen. The fisher survey responses reflected the confusion and difficult position that the industry is in. While there is a clear understanding of the need to protect the reefs (97% support), there are blatant violations of no-take zones (67%), showing that at least for the fishing industry, short-run concerns overshadow long-run consequences, a path that will undoubtedly lead to disaster. It was interesting that the authors brought up raising current fees as a method to improve the self-financing capacity of the reserve. As some in the class point out, the structure of the governance of MPAs is confusing and perhaps not the most efficient manner of providing the best conservation capabilities. If the reserve could self-finance, they would be able to have full control over its operations, avoid bureaucratic policy standstills, and enforce stricter regulations so that illegal fishing would not occur.
Toggle Commented Apr 26, 2013 on Un Belizeable!!!! at Jolly Green General
I thought the article provided a nice balance to the other piece we read for class since it showed the possibility for national public involvement as a positive influence on government policy making. I really connected with the idea of “community buy-in” because as we discussed in class, it is the only way to successfully implement nation-wide conservation efforts and research. By creating a newsletter and allowing citizens to contribute to its efforts, as Joe and Shannon referenced, it encourages community involvement and a personal stake in the cause. Furthermore, I thought it was extremely significant that MCSS research teams would use boats chartered by local operators or dive centers, providing another source of income that benefitted the community as a whole. This speaks to what we discussed in class yesterday – of finding alternative sources of employment or income for locals. If fishermen could be trained to be a part of conservation efforts, the restrictions on fishing would seem less dire. It is important to address that the locals are not the only ones helping MCSS with their monitoring program. I thought it was extremely smart that paying participants were encouraged to help monitor and document whale shark sightings. We have consistently discussed how educating someone helps them to become more aware and invested in marine ecosystems. I would be curious to see if these participants would have a higher WTP in a conservation fund after their experiences with aiding MCSS’s efforts,
Is the non-market literature adequate to support coastal and marine management? Today, we discussed in class the necessity of “mutual coercion mutually agreed upon” in order to adequately protect the commons and reverse the drastic decline of coastal and marine resources in recent years. However, in order to do so, effective policy must be implemented. As others have noted, the article shows that there is a dearth of current and relevant studies regarding the valuation of coastal and marine assets, ultimately hindering the policy-making process. What interested me was that though there are many studies discussing the value of beaches and fisheries, assets with use value, there are noticeably fewer articles addressing the non-market valuation of what can be considered non-use assets such as reefs. The differences between travel cost, contingent valuation, and hedonic methods also intrigued me since the article states that certain methods are disproportionately referenced with particular assets or uses. Given that beach values have been estimated using every one of these techniques, I think it would be interesting to see how the values differed or if they resulted in a consensus. If values differed, would it be possible to use a certain valuation method to skew the results of a particular study? With a very small group of authors who specialize in particular geographic regions and assets, the limited literature restricts successful policy implementation. What is most concerning to me is that the frequency of publications regarding valuation of coastal and marine resources has declined. Is there an underlying impetus for this, especially now when research is so integral to the conservation policy-making process?
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2013 on testing at Jolly Green General
Trade-offs between conservation and socio-economic objectives in managing a tropical marine ecosystem The delicate balance between socio-economic and conservation objectives in marine ecosystems is an extremely current concern – especially as we look to Belize and its efforts to protect its natural resources at the expense of the local fishing economy. The article demonstrates clearly what we discussed in class – that conservation status and economic benefits from fisheries have a linear relationship. When conservation efforts are increased, there is a distinct decline in the number of jobs provided by fisheries. On the other hand, when emphasis is placed on maintaining a social objective, maximizing employment opportunities, ecological depletion increases considerably. It is clear that conservation policies are the key to maintaining long term success with both conservation and socio-economic objectives – policies that only focused on maximizing jobs led to over capitalization, over-exploitation, and ultimately, the dissipation of economic benefits. However, I agree with Corinne in that it is also important to establish policies and support for those affected in the short-run. As discussed in class, fishermen who cannot fish in Belize do not have many alternative employment options available to them. With a current unemployment rate of 11.3%, this is a growing concern that has yet to be addressed. I thought it was particularly interesting to note the psychological response of overfishing from fishermen who face limited economic opportunity. Ecosystem services of the tropical seascape: interactions, substitutions and restoration I think the article does a good job of outlining the various human attempts to substitute and restore mangroves and coral reefs and their subsequent limitations. Like the rest of the class, and as seen from the article, I do not believe that it is possible to replace natural phenomena with human technology. In fact, single-service substitution such as aquaculture, is harmful to the natural environment that it is dependent upon. Though I agree that rather than focusing on developing these limited technologies, as a society, we should be working on policy to keep the deterioration from happening in the first place, I also believe that restoration can be beneficial for mangroves that have already been lost. What worries me about this, however, is that the authors relate that, “most mangrove restoration work has focused only on the techniques for growing mangrove trees with little attention paid to long-term community structure or linkages with other systems.” If we try to recreate a natural ecosystem, we must understand it first – thoughtlessly planting mangroves may be ineffectual, or at worse, harmful, and is only a waste of resources. The willingness to pay-willingness to accept gap revisited: The role of emotions and moral satisfaction This article truly fascinated me because I had never thought about WTP in relation to WTA a public or private good. I believe that the fact that there was an emotional connection with those in the WTA group when presented with the opportunity to take back their money from a public cause and an overall greater willingness to accept the loss and go through with the donation has many implications for future conservation efforts. Like others in the class, I thought it was interesting to see how the experiment tied into the omission vs. commission thought process of the trolley scenario. There was greater guilt for those who committed the act of taking money back from WWF, whereas those who only omitted giving money, suffered less emotional stress. It would be interesting to have further experimentation continue to test whether or not investing in a public good promotes positive affect in a statistically significant manner.
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2013 on Three more for Wednesday at Jolly Green General
Are tourists willing to pay additional fees to protect corals in Mexico? Like many in the class, I found the discussion on protest bids most interesting in the context of the article. The study shows that the 84.7% of respondents that said they would be willing to pay an entrance fee into Mexico would only do so if “they could be guaranteed it would go toward coral protection.” Given the conditional response and the common concern of those that were unwilling to pay, it is clear that the ambiguity of who, where, and how of the fund is a major source of trepidation in tourists. Though I agree with Bess that there is a question of how much information is too much information, given the significance of the topic, I feel that the situation may warrant further research to see if there are currently similar and successful programs in other protected areas that the Mexican government can emulate and the survey could realistically introduce to respondents. Given our discussion in class on the perceived cultural differences between areas like Mexico and Belize, I also wonder if the distrust in government would vary with country. Another aspect of the article that stood out to me was the statistic that less than 21% of respondents participated in environmental education activities during their stay. I was interested in this because it made me think about whether the WTP would have a positive or negative correlation with education. Along the same lines, would there be more of a response if the destruction of the reef was quantified in the survey? The economics of marine ecosystem goods and services I thought the introductory sections of this reading were extremely helpful in separating the goods and services available from an ecosystem and distinguishing those from benefits and costs. Though value is a function of what the good or service is worth to the people, like Corinne, I struggle with the idea of trying to quantify the wide spectrum of values as a result of varying opinion, especially as it relates to non-use values. I liked the connection between the knowledge of benefits and value that other members of the class discussed as it was not something that had crossed my mind before – I think this reveals a lot about the importance of environmental education in protected areas. I’d like to learn more about a quantifiable difference in value, if any, between use and non-use values. A Practitioner’s primer on the contingent valuation method Whitehead does a very thorough job of outlining the contingent valuation method and the many facets that are involved in perfecting the process. Like Holley, I found his support of mailing surveys confusing as I personally perceive it to be a poor choice in terms of reply probability especially given the extra effort on the respondents’ parts to mail back the survey. On the other hand, I would be interested in seeing if emailing a survey might garner greater response. If I am not mistaken, I believe that in Belize, we will be implementing convenience intercept sampling like the study we also read – it will be interesting to learn more about this process and the potential benefits and limitations of this method. One thing that especially interested and worried me is that with CV, there is only one chance to extract an unbiased willingness to pay value. Though I understand the logic behind it and the natural tendency to link any future question to the answer to the first, it signifies the importance of the one valuation scenario and question. I thought that having a concrete scenario was a good idea, as it offered the most information to the respondent; however, we will have to be careful in our own survey to not incorporate too much information, as Whitehead points out respondents’ tendency to skip text or less accurately answer questions when presented with more text on the page.
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Apr 23, 2013