Ecological Importance of Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are highly productive, this allows them to provide many valuable recreational services. They have direct values, as they increase tourism by allowing tourists to dive, snorkel and view coral reefs. They also have indirect values such as coastal protection and providing a nursery ground for fisheries (Brander et al., 2007).

Figure, 7. Image of a scuba diver. Courtesy of Richard Ling, flickr.

Figure, 6. Image of a scuba diver. Courtesy of Richard Ling, flickr.

A study by Constanza supported that coral reefs can provide several functions and services. It was found they contribute greatly to disturbance regulation, food production and recreation. They also have smaller roles in waste treatment, habitat refuge and culture.

More than 100 countries have coastlines with coral reefs and millions of people living in these countries depend on reefs as either their protein source or for their livelihood (Moberg, 1999). It was found that a 1km2 stretch of coral reef could support over 300 people if there were no other sources of protein (Polunin, 1996).

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