Project 10.2 Socioeconomic systems and reef resilience

clown fish in soft coral

The aim of this project is to get a better understanding of the Great Barrier Reef’s non-market values, such as recreation, resources and amenity. Focusing on GBR residents, Natalie and her colleagues from JCU are investigating the relative value of different goods and services (e.g. recreation, resources and amenity) provided by the reef. They will also investigate residents’ reaction to environmental degradation and their willingness to pay for environmental improvement. They have developed a questionnaire which will be pre-tested with a randomised sample of residents in late August/early September ready for a distribution of the final questionnaire before the end of the year.

The second part of the project is focusing on visitors to the GBR and the relative importance to them of different attributes of reef health, as well as expenditure patterns, reaction to environmental degradation (such as changes in water quality) and willingness to pay for improvements in the environment. A sample questionnaire was tested on tourists at Cairns Airport and after minor revisions a final version has been distributed to tourism operators, caravan parks, airports and ferry terminals between Cairns and Yeppoon. About 400 responses have been received so far. The researchers are now translating the questionnaires into Chinese and Japanese.

In the third part of the project, which focuses on socio-economic factors influencing sediment loads in the Burdekin, the researchers are initially testing models that explain the relationship between sediment and rainfall. They have found that econometric models can explain the relationship between stream flow as a function of rainfall. The next step will be to include price data to determine how a change in rainfall (and/or prices) can lead to a change in sediment loads.

Image: How much are visitors willing to pay for improvements in the environment? Photo by Tourism Queensland

Find out more about the project here

Related Projects: 
Project 10.2 'Socio-economic systems and reef resilience'