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How local communities value natural resources

Today’s society is gearing towards a more global concern about the environment. Although the concerns are at the global level actions are often focused at the local level. Local actions, repeated across communities, are thought to have regional and global impacts. Slogans such as “Act local, think global” reinforce this idea. Understand how local communities perceive and value their surrounding environment and its resources can ensure more synergistic outputs for global programmes. This research aims to understand how local communities in the Maldives value their reef resources. Conducted in seven communities in the Maldives, this research uses a qualitative approach to infer the reef values. In this respect, interactions with sand and coral, reef fish and scads from the reef environment were investigated. This exploration of reef values show that multiple reef values exist and they are constantly changing. How communities interact with the resources and how the communities itself had changed over time contribute to this change in resource value. A most notable change impacting reef values is the migration of families to the capital. Thus, reducing their interactions both with the reef environment and other community members. Another important change is the development of a predominantly globalised worldview among the present generations caused by the current globalised education. Local worldviews are being negated at the expense of concern for the global environment. In this new worldview, the sacred is separated from the secular. These findings regarding local values towards reefs can be useful to guide better environmental management and policy planning.

Part 1: How can we value coral reefs?

Part 2: Reef resource use at island scale

Part 3: Values are changing

Part 4: Factors influencing resource use

Part 5: Looking beyond changing values

Part 6: Questions & Answers

Further Reading

  • Allison, W. R. (1996). “Snorkeler damage to reef corals in the Maldive Islands.” Coral Reef, 15, 215-218.
  • Allison, W. R. (2005). “Baa Atoll, Maldives: Some Observations by William Allison.” Unpublished report, 2.
  • Anderson, R. C., and Hafiz, A. (1995). “Status of tuna research and data collection in the Maldives.” In: 6th Expert Consultation on Indian Ocean Tunas, Indian Ocean Tuna Commission., Colombo.
  • Anderson, R. C., and Waheed, Z. (1999). “Management of shark fisheries in the Maldives.” In: Case studies of the management of elasmobranch fisheries, R. Shotton, ed., Food and Agriculture Organisation, Rome.
  • Bers, A. V. (2005). “Biodiversity Assessment for Maldives’ Baa Atoll: Baseline Information for UNDP’s Atoll Ecosystem-Based Conservation Programme.” Ministry of Environment, Energy and Water, Mal., Maldives, 47.
  • Domroes, M., (2001). “Conceptualising state-controlled resort islands for an environment-friendly development of tourism: The Maldivian experience.” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 22(2), 122-137.
  • Freeman, A. (2003). “Economic Valuation: What and Why?” In: A Primer on Jon market Valuation, P. A. Champ, K. J. Boyle, and T. C. Brown, eds., Kluwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands, 1-26.
  • Ghina, F. (2003). “Sustainable Development in Small Island Developing States: The Case of the Maldives.” Environment, Development and Sustainability, 5(1-2), 139-165.
  • Greenley, D. A., Walsh, R. G., and Young, R. A. (1981). “Option Value – Empirical-Evidence from a Case-Study of Recreation and Water-Quality.” Quarterly Journal of Economics, 96(4), 657-673.
  • Gunette, S., Chuenpagdee, R., and Jones, R. (2000). “Marine Protected Areas with an Emphasis on Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples: a Review.” Fisheries Centre Research Reports 8(1), University of British Columbia Canada.
  • Kahneman, D., and Knetsch, J. (1992). “Valuing public goods: the purchase of moral satisfaction.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 22, 57-70.
  • Ministry of Environment and Construction. (2005). State of the Environment: Maldives, 2004, Ministry of Environment and Construction, Maldives.
  • Ministry of Home Affairs, Housing and Environment. (2001). First National Communication to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UJFCCC), Ministry of Home Affairs, Housing and Environment Mal.’, Maldives.
  • Mitchell, R. M., and Carson, R. T. (1989). Using Surveys to Value Public Goods: the Contingent Valuation Method, Resources for the Future, Washington D.C.
  • Moberg, F., and Folke, C. (1999). “Ecological goods and services of coral reef ecosystems.” Ecological Economics, 29, 215-233.
  • Mosqueira, I., C.t., I. M., Jennings, S., and Reynolds, J. D. (2000). “Conservation benefits of marine reserves for fish populations.” Animal Conservation, 4, 321–332.
  • Ministry of Tourism. (2003). “Review and Recommendations: Maldives Tourism Master Plan 1996-2005.” Ministry of Tourism, Maldives.
  • Ministry of Tourism. (2005). “Tourist Opinion Survey Report 2004.” Ministry of Tourism, Maldives, 73.
  • Marine Protected Areas System. (2001). “National Listing of Potential Sites for Protected Area Establishment.” Maldives Protected Areas.
  • Riopelle, J. M. (1995). “The Economic Valuation of Coral Reefs: A Case Study of West Lombok, Indonesia,” Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
  • Roberts, C. M., and Polunin, V. C. (1993). “Marine Reserves: Simple Solutions to Managing Complex Fisheries.” Ambio, 22(6), 363-368.
  • Salih, A. (2000). “Divers’ Perceptions Maldives,” University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
  • Sattar, S. A., and Adam, M. S. (2005). “Review of Grouper Fishery of the Maldives with additional notes on the Faafu Atoll Fishery.” Marine Research Centre, Mal., Maldives.
  • United Nations Development Programme. (2004). “Project Document: Atoll Ecosystem-Based Conservation of Globally Significant Biological Diversity in the Maldives’ Baa Atoll.” United Nations Development Programme and Government of Maldives, 179.

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