Posted by: Bob Payne | October 28, 2011

The Economic Impact of Bahamian Protected Areas

In January 2009, the container ship Westerhaven ran aground and destroyed about an acre of Belize’s 180-mile barrier reef – the world’s second largest. Fifteen months later the Belizean Supreme Court ruled that the ship’s owners had to pay the government $6 million in damages.

Their ruling was based on scientific studies showing that coral reef- and mangrove-associated tourism contribute 15 per cent of Belize’s gross domestic product. And when shoreline protection is considered, these ecosystems provide an extra $347 million in avoided damage every year.

With a similar population to the Bahamas, Belize has protected more than a third of its total land area of just under 9,000 square miles in one way or another, as well as about 13 per cent of its marine area.

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