Importance of Coral Reefs

Coral reef only takes up less than 0.2% of the ocean’s area, but it nurtures 1/4 of all marine life. Places with coral reefs tend to have high numbers in biodiversity. Naturally, people call it “the rainforest of the sea”. Coral is an extremely important character who provide shelter for many lives and a home to many fish. Needless to say more about its impact on the environment; Instead, let’s take a look at coral reef’s impact on economics—specifically, in Taiwan.

Tourism and Job Opportunities

According to a study in 2003, coral reef around the world contains a whooping 3 trillion of total net worth. Another report shows that coral reef provides 37.5 billion. worth of services and/or products. Coral reef not only creates opportunities for tourism, it also provides people jobs. For example, in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is estimated to provide 53,800 full-time jobs in its healthy condition. As a result, coral reef is the key to the economic takeoff in many countries. Worldwide, these are at least 93 countries other than Taiwan that are fortunate enough to enjoy the benefits coral reef brings—tourism. For Taiwan, the profit brought by coral reef can take up to 15% of GDP at times. Of course, the profit reefs bring does not limit to tourism. There are three other main benefits that bring revenue including coastal protection, fisheries, and biodiversity.

Coastal Protection

Coral reef is like a natural breakwater that minimize the risk of floods by lowering the strength of overly powerful waves. It is like a free insurance for natural disaster that saves much economic and healthcare resources.

Figure 2: Fisheries economy in Taiwan


For a place like Taiwan that is surrounded by sea, fisheries is obviously one of the most important industries. Figure 2 shows that the fisheries’ total worth reaches 89,736,599(NTD). These shocking numbers will immediately decline quickly without healthy coral reefs.

Biodiversity and more benefits

In addition, coral reef is also the key to biodiversity. Zhao-lun, Chen, a researcher working at the Biodiversity Research Center estimated that 1500 can be found in one coral ecosystem on average. In Taiwan, the specific number is 600-800. Much value is hidden in biodiversity and the majority of its value haven’t been discovered yet. That being said, madicine such as ara-a, azt, and anti-cancer medicine of ara-c are all made of coral reef. At the end of the day, maintaining biodiversity for potential usages is exceptionally significant.

Coral reef brings countless benefits to all of our lives, but they are bleaching and dying because of pollution. It requires strict condition of the environment including salt stability, calcium saturation, temperature, nutrient level, etc. If one from the list above is not met, coral reefs can easily get a disease and die. In the end, we all need to acknowledge how coral reef not only brings the undersea to life but also bring hope to nations in the form of economics.