Wednesday, January 25, 2006

In the frontline

In the front line, a new report from UNEP, "brings the economic value and life saving function of reefs into sharp focus", according to a 24 Jan press release.

The report says that the value of coral reefs is between $100,000 and $600,000 per square kilometre per year, while the cost of protecting them is about $775 per square kilometre per year.

The cost of installing artificial breakwaters made of concrete tetrapods, to absorb the wave impact that would otherwise be damped by corals, can be around $10m per kilometre.

Tom Goreau welcomes the report, but says in a letter to Klaus Toepfer's office and colleagues:

"The cost of shore protection mentioned in the report [around Male] in the Maldives is more than an order of magnitude greater than successful coral restoration projects [by the Global Coral Reef Alliance] in [another island in] the Maldives, which had 16-50 times higher survival of corals than surrounding reefs following the lethal high temperatures in 1998, and caused a severely eroding beach to grow 50 feet in a few years. Not only was this far cheaper than concrete breakwaters, it created a reef full of fish and corals that has won many international environmental awards".

He says tidal power can provide the energy needed by developing nations.

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