Coral reefs are increasingly threatened despite being essential to coastal and island economies, particularly in the Pacific. The diving industry relies on healthy reefs and can be positively and/or negatively impacted by ecological change. Quantifying divers' ecological preferences that influence economic outcomes can help inform managers and justify conservation. Utilizing non-market valuation, we assess SCUBA divers' preferences for ecological attributes of coral reef ecosystems in Guam, estimate WTP for coastal and watershed management, and investigate drivers influencing preferences. A discrete choice experiment grounded in ecosystem modeling reveals divers prefer reefs with greater ecological health (higher fish biomass, diversity, and charismatic species). Individuals with stronger environmental values expressed stronger ecological preferences. Fish biomass improvement from low (< 25 g/m2) to high (> 60 g/m2) was worth >$2 million/year. The presence of sharks and turtles together was the preeminent attribute, worth $15–20 million/year. Divers are willing to voluntarily contribute ($900thousand) towards watershed sediment-reduction projects that could benefit divers by improving reef conditions. Few policies are in place worldwide collecting fees from divers for coral reef management, and none in Guam. Our results suggest that understanding divers' preferences and the drivers behind them may assist managers in designing policies that capture divers WTP and create partners in conservation. by Kirsten L.L. Oleson, PhD
Assistant Professor - Ecological Economics
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management
story Berna Gorong, Partnership and Communications Director, TNC
This year’s Palau International Coral Reef Center’s (PICRC) annual anniversary event was a bit different than previous events. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Palau Conservation Society (PCS) joined PICRC on their 15th Anniversary celebration for a sold out gala event in Palau on January 21st2016 under the theme, Transforming Conservation Together.
Mr. Noah Idechong, Chairman of PICRC Board of Directors, gives opening remarks at the joint gala event
In previous years, PICRC’s anniversary events were held on the facilities’ grounds; however this year due to ongoing construction at the PICRC facilities, a clear sign of growth, the Gala event was held at the Palau Royal Resort. The event was intended to kick-start PICRC’s 2016 fundraising campaign and kick it did. During the evening’s event, PICRC’s CEO Yimnang Golbuu announced that the fundraising target goal of $150,000 was surpassed.
The Palau Conservation Society recognized Francis Toribiong with a Conservation Award at the gala event, as well. His great enthusiasm for Palau’s natural wonders had helped put the island on world maps as a top tourist dive destination and it has contributed to the value of conserving and managing Palau’s natural resources.
The theme of the gala, Transforming Conservation Together, showcased the partnership factor honoring the collaborative approach to advancing conservation in all of Micronesia through partnerships with governments, NGOs, local partners and communities.
The Palau International Coral Reef Center is a globally recognized leader in marine research and conservation with a mission to guide efforts supporting coral reef stewardship through research and its applications for the people of Palau, Micronesia, and the world. Visit www.picrc.org.
The Palau Conservation Society (PCS) was incorporated in 1994 with the vision: Healthy Ecosystems for a Healthy Palau. With the clear mission: to work with the community to preserve the nation’s unique natural environment and perpetuate its conservation ethics for the economic and social benefit of present and future generations of Palauans and for the enjoyment and education of all. Visit www.palauconservation.org.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working in 35 countries to conserve lands and waters upon which all life depends. The Nature Conservancy and its more than one million members have conserved nearly120 million acres worldwide. Visit www.nature.org.
After a very competitive search andinterview process, Steven Victor has been selected as the new TNC Micronesia Program Director.
In the past 2 months, Steven has stepped up to serve as the Interim Director, and now as he assumes the role permanently, he will continue to help refine and implement TNC’s Pacific Division Strategy and focal projects in Micronesia.
A native of Palau, Steven has been working in marine science and conservation for over 15 years in the region. He received his BA in Biology in 1998 and his MSc in Biology in 2002, both from the University of Guam Marine Laboratory. Steven worked with the Palau International Coral Reef Center from 2002 to 2009, first as a Researcher, and then as the Head of the Research Department. While at the Palau International Coral Reef Center, Steven focused his research on the impacts of sediment on coastal marine habitats, particularly on the role of mangroves in mitigating sedimentation. In addition, he was instrumental in helping to establish capacity building efforts for coral reef monitoring in Palau and the Micronesia region.
Trained as a coach in TNC’s Conservation Action Planning (CAP) process in 2006,Steven used CAP as a very effective way to help bridge science to support communities’ management decisions. In October 2009, Steven joined TNC as the Micronesia Conservation Planner, became the Deputy Director for Conservation in 2013, and the Deputy Director for the Micronesia Program in early 2015. With his strong interest, knowledge, and experience in using science to improve management, he has been taking the lead on fisheries reform, marine protected areas network design, and marine protected areas management effectiveness evaluation for Micronesia, and will continue to provide leadership in these areas, as well as taking on additional management tasks
The Micronesia Program Director
provides vision, leadership, strategic direction and resources to the work of
TNC and its partners in the Federated States of Micronesia, Republics of Palau
and the Marshal Islands, Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern
Mariana Islands. S/he is accountable for the Micronesia Program’s success in
implementing TNC’s conservation approach, producing measurable conservation
results and maintaining organizational values.S/he ensures outcomes are achieved in priority areas that fall within
the operating unit’s responsibilities, and contributes intellectual, financial,
and/or human resources to the formulation and execution of priority