by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #CebuBloggingCommunity
CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES (April 25, 2015) — Of all habitats, coral reefs offer the most valuable ecosystem services posting total economic value of 352,249 international dollars per hectare annually.
According to nationalist scientist, Dr. Edgardo Gomez, in his presentation on corals in line with the West Philippine Sea Bloggers Forum here, citing “Global estimates of the value of economic and other services in monetary units of habitats” by de Groot et.al. in 2012, coral reefs are the most valuable of all habitats – open oceans, woodlands, grasslands, temperate forests, rivers and lakes, tropical forests, inland wetlands, coastal system and wetlands.
But then an estimated 100,000,000 international dollars are lost to massive dredging of channels and obliteration of corals in the creation of artificial islands in disputed Spratlys on the West Philippine Sea.
Coral reefs, home to maritime life, offer provisioning services amounting to $55,724 per hectare per year. Regulating services amount to $171,478; habitat services – $16,210; and cultural services – $108,837 or a total of $352, 249. Provisioning covers food, raw materials, genetic resources and ornamental resources. Regulating services has something to do with climate regulation, disturbance moderation, waste treatment, and erosion protection.
Habitat services is about genetic diversity, while cultural services involve esthetic information, recreation, and cognitive information.
“Why do you think we have beautiful sandy beaches?” Dr. Gomez asked. “We owe it to the corals. They produce calcium carbonate, they allow for growth of calcareous algae.”
But China’s aggressive reclamation activities in Spratly Islands have already destroyed around 300 hectares of corals. “Sediment piping, high-scale reclamation, extant structures (in the last two decades) lead us to an estimated $100 million annual loss,” the professor emeritus of the UP Marine Science Institute accentuated.
Images based on IHS Jane’s Satellite Imagery Analysis showed the following data on land area reclaimed: 14 hectares on Gaven Reef (Burgos Reef), 7.2 has. on Union Reef North; 12.5 has. on Union Reef South; 12 hectares on Cuateron Reef; and 265 has. on Fiery Cross Reef (Kagitingan Reef).
“The point of this presentation is to let China know that it’s a large figure and that they are destroying healthy coral reefs in the West Philippine Sea that are so important for the productivity of neighboring marginal seas,” Dr. Gomez further stated.
“The message is China is harming the spot!”###