Great Barrier Reef A $42 Billion Asset 'Too Big To Fail'

The Deloitte Access Economics report says the world heritage-listed reef underpins 64,000 direct and indirect jobs, and contributes $6.4bn to the national economy each year.

Of the 56 billion Australian dollars, 24 billion (18.18 billion US dollars) was identified as a "non-use value figure" which O'Mahony explained was part of a shift beyond the "traditional economic lens", as it can not be found within the GDP, and used what he called a "willingness to pay" analysis.

The report covers the economic, social, "icon" and brand value of the reef, though does not include estimates of the value Traditional Owners place on the reef due to difficulties in determining monetary value, though says "its significance and qualitative value is demonstrated".

The "indirect or non-use" value - people that have not yet visited the reef but know it exists - was estimated at Aus$24 billion, with recreational users such as boaters making up the rest.

"At $56 billion, the reef is valued at more than 12 Sydney Opera Houses".

"This report makes it clear that the Great Barrier Reef is a treasure that is too big to fail".

"Any failure to protect this indispensable natural resource would have profound impacts not only to Australia but around the world", he added.

The survey was conducted among 1,500 Australian and worldwide respondents from 10 countries with two-thirds of the survey respondents saying they were prepared to pay to protect the reef, based on its importance to the planet.

Aside from reducing the planet's carbon footprint and curb pollution, suggestions included increased monitoring of the site and the development of coral nurseries.

Experts say the reef has already been irreversibly damaged, while a report from UNESCO states that the reef will be dead by the end of the century if global greenhouse gas emissions aren't reduced.

Comment has been sought from the federal environment minister, Josh Frydenberg.

Hopefully, the valuation will be enough to dissuade the Malcolm Turnbull Government from its plan to build Indian mining company Adani's $16 billion Carmichael coal mine.

"Valuing nature in monetary terms can effectively inform policy settings and help industry, government, the scientific community and the wider public understand the contribution of the environment, or in this case the Great Barrier Reef, to the economy and society".

"Australia is taking strong action to address the global threat of climate change having ratified the Paris Agreement which will see Australia reduce its emissions by 26 to 28 percent on 2005".

  • Larry Hoffman