$194million per year is the estimated value of the Territory’s environment, a study conducted by Esther Wolfs, MBA, MSc (WKICS) of WolfsKater International Consultancy Services revealed.
The announcement of the finding was made at the J.R. O’Neal Botanic Gardens on Tuesday, 13 May. In her presentation Wolfs told the gathering the figure takes both the marine and terrestrial ecosystems into consideration: “So the tourism value of the ecosystem services in total is $194M per year, which is a huge amount and that consists of the producers surplus, so those are amounts of spending, consumer surplus, etc.”
The results stem from a study that was authorized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour and carried out by the University of Amsterdam. In her break down of the two ecosystem components Wolfs explained that that environmental producer surplus stands at $173M per annum, while the environmental consumer surplus is at $22M.
“How do we value nature? We have an ecosystem in coral reefs, the coral reefs provide a service that is vital, divers will come…it is healthy, produces fish which we buy and eat, then there is the beach…All these services have a value…with the University we have techniques to value this, although it looks difficult to put a price tag on…,” she explained.
Wolfs pointed out that the research shows that visitors are drawn to the Territory because of its natural beauty: “What speaks out in this research is that the marine ecosystem service of the BVI is crucial to the tourism industry. So tourism here on your island really depends on nature.”
“In the BVI they just enjoy being here, just being at those beautiful islands and spending time…They do not do a lot of diving, but they do like to snorkel and visit your beaches…And the visitors…consider themselves environmentally aware…yachties also consider themselves very much environmentally aware,” she added.
Deputy Premier, and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr. the Hon. Kedrick Pickering explained that the research was carried out as a point of reference in the consideration and understanding of how the environment affects lives in the BVI. He further added that the study gives creed to what he always says—‘there is absolutely no tourism without the environment’.”
“Today we will learn in a real way, in a scientific way, the basis for that statement…understand that the environment plays such a critical role in our lives. I say that the first task God ever gave to man was to look after his creation. So each and every person should appreciate the environment.”