Recognising the value of marine ecosystem services | WWF

Every year, the ocean provides us with a wealth of goods and services conservatively valued at US$2.5 trillion.

But these benefits–food for millions of people, regulating the climate, coastal protection from storms, among others–are under threat, mostly as a result of ecosystem degradation.

Understanding and promoting the value of ecosystems is a cornerstone of our approach to safeguard the ocean.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Queensland, Australia.

© WWF / Jürgen Freund

Most of the time, the true value of ecosystem services is not known or appreciated. In fact, studies show they provide significant value:

The direct value of output from coral reefs, seagrass, mangroves, and marine fisheries is US$6.9 trillion
The great barrier reef generates US$5.7 billion/year and 69,000 jobs
The deforestation rate of mangroves exceeds loss of forests by 3-5 times
The value of ecosystems (from coral reefs to seagrass meadows), and species (from whale sharks to marine turtles) is such that not protecting them is the equivalent of wiping out substantial parts of the economy.

What WWF is doing

To make sure that assessments of the value of ecosystems become a sound basis for sustainable development, WWF works to:
  • Raise awareness of the value of ecosystems, especially to policymakers
  • Demonstrate the contribution of our ocean and coasts to economies and livelihoods around the globe
  • Compel action to combat climate change by showing how climate-driven changes in oceans and coastal areas affect the things people rely on and care about
In many of WWF's Priority Places, areas of critical importance to biodiversity and people's livelihoods, we have calculated the economic value of natural assets and ecosystems.

This is important, because it allows us to understand the impacts and potential tradeoffs of development in places such as the Arctic, the Northern Mozambique Channel and the Mediterranean—and share them with decision-makers, coastal communities and other relevant stakeholders.