The Territory is expected to benefit from a study on the Total Economic Valuation of its natural resources in 2019.
The Government in partnership with the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) will oversee the research by the Wolfs Institute. Funding is being provided through the UK (JNCC) by the UK Conflict, Stability and Security Fund.
The scope of the proposed study was defined at a workshop held on Wednesday, February 1 with representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour. The participants identified key ecosystems, ecosystem services and threats, and determined applications of the natural capital assessment to development planning and the raising of awareness.
Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, Joseph Smith-Abbott said that the JNCC is conducting this work within nine other overseas territories of the UK and the study would be done in two phases: one in April 2017 through March 2018 and the other in April 2018 through March 2019.
Mr. Smith Abbot said, “Finding the value of our environment in numbers helps us to make better decisions in policy, helps us to raise awareness of different environmental impacts, and assists with natural capital accounting.”
Environmental Consultant, Amilcar Guzman stated that the scope of the project is to establish the economic value of key environmental goods and services available in the Territory; map the distribution of these assets through GIS [Geographic Information Systems]; and develop measurable indicators for natural capital that can be used for monitoring and reporting on change.
He added, “The work is intended to set up an operational approach and a set of tools to help in building national capacity to enable the Virgin Islands to supplement and revise the work into the future.”
A research plan will be developed and will detail activities and collaboration with various stakeholders.
Initial work of economic valuation in the Territory was undertaken by the VU University of Amsterdam, IVM Institute for Environmental Studies and Wolfs Institute in 2013 to 2014 to establish the “Tourism Value of Nature in the British Virgin Islands (BVI)”. Research findings indicated the total annual tourism value of ecosystems in the BVI comes at an estimate of $194 million. This amount is attributable to both the marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour endeavours to effectively administer the natural resources of the Territory in a manner that ensures long term sustainability.
Photo 1: Atendees at the Workshop for research study on the Total Economic Valuation of the natural resources of the Virgin Islands (Photo Credit: Tessa Smith-Claxton)