We undertook an economic valuation of mangrove forests in Balochistan province of Pakistan drawing on primary data from a survey of 80 households depending on mangrove forests. It was found that the direct value of mangroves was USD 1,287 per hectare, while the total value for the village was calculated to be USD 4,419,935. We found that rich households made more absolute use of the mangrove products and services and the poor made more relative use. Any decrease in the quality of this ecosystem would expose the poor to the worst effects of poverty. We argue that investments in mangrove conservation under comanagement regime in this region of Pakistan make ecological and economic sense.
In the last decade or so the world’s coastal areas have received a lot of attention – attention that has been spurred on specifically by the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. Subsequently, the undeniable linkages between coastal resources and economic and human wellbeing have become more apparent. This is evident nowhere more so than in the Maldives – a nation of small islands dependent entirely on its coastal and marine resources, which contribute extensively to its economy and its people’s livelihoods. There are few examples in the world where an entire nation’s wellbeing is so strongly linked to its natural resource base. For such a country, any threat to its biodiversity means adverse impacts on its future development. Clearly then, there is a strong imperative to recognise and demonstrate that there is an economic – in addition to a biological and ecological – rationale to biodiversity conservation.
Investment in ecosystem conservation tends to be biased as investment decisions are based on costs and benefits; and more often than not benefits of ecosystem conservation remain undervalued. Recently however, investment in the conservation and management of mangrove ecosystems is increasingly being seen as a key element of sustainable livelihoods and economies, vulnerability reduction and disaster management. For the coastal poor in developing countries as well as the managers of mangrove ecosystems, the value in maintaining them is perhaps not surprising. Local users have long recognized the ecological functions and socio-economic values of mangroves to their lives and livelihoods. Mangrove ecosystems are highly productive areas contributing to the food chains of many species. Mangrove forests are therefore critical components of the ecosystem in that they provide complex habitat structure for numerous juvenile fish species. Overall the awareness about the ecological functions and values of mangrove ecosystems remain low among decision-makers. There is therefore, clearly a need to assess, calculate and share information on the economic values associated with mangroves – and the economic benefits of managing them wisely in the future.