Coral Reef: Function, Benefits and Impact of Damage

When we visit a beach, we will be treated to a variety of beautiful scenery. One of them is coral reef. Many coral reefs scattered on the beach and ocean are indeed so beautiful. Not only beautiful, coral reef also seems to have many functions and benefits for life and the earth.

Because of the many functions and benefits of this coral reef, it is mandatory for us to always maintain this coral reef as well as possible. Because, when the coral reef is damaged, the impact can be bad for the balance of the natural ecosystem.

In the following we will discuss what are the functions of coral reefs, the benefits of coral reefs and also the impact of coral reef damage.

Chapter List 

Coral Reef Life

In coastal areas, there are three main ecosystems that are commonly found. The three important ecosystems are mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and coral reefs. The role of mangrove forests and seagrass beds is to protect the beach and also as a spawning ground for a variety of biota inhabitants of coral reefs.

Research has revealed that there are more than 93,000 species that live on coral reefs, and it is estimated there are also more than one million species that inhabit this ecosystem.

The coral reef itself is a group of marine biota that usually looks strong and strong. Even so, these coral reefs are actually very vulnerable to the atmosphere of environmental change, especially when environmental changes occur quite extreme.

The growth and development of coral reefs is much influenced by the condition of the marine environment ecosystem, such as:

  • the degree of fusion, affects the amount of light entering the sea
  • currents, affecting the oxygen that is carried to animals on coral reef animals
  • light, it needs animals to form coral reefs
  • salinity, affecting the condition of coral reefs
  • temperature, affecting the condition of resilience of coral animals. The ideal temperature is 26 – 28 ° C.

Function of Coral Reefs

Vegetation of this coral reef has many functions for human life, also for nature. What are the functions of this coral reef? Next:

  • for humans, coral reefs are a storehouse of food and medicine
  • a source of foreign exchange tourism for the country because of its beauty so that it can be used as a tourist commodity.
  • It is home to thousands of animals and plants, such as fish, invertebrates and marine mammals, including those that have high economic value.
  • Being a food source for various types of animals
  • As a shelter for various types of animals that live in this ecosystem.

The function of coral reefs is indeed very much. The data noted that there are millions of Indonesians who until now have depended entirely on coral reefs, namely as a source of livelihood.

The value of the harvest of fish, corals, and crabs that inhabit coral reef ecosystems throughout the world can even reach 9 million tons, or at least 12% of the total amount of fisheries in the world. Usually, there are still many fisheries resources in this coral reef area that are caught using traditional fishing gear.

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Benefits of Coral Reefs

Just like its many functions, the benefits of coral reefs are also quite a lot for human life, as well as natural ecosystems in general. The benefits of coral reefs in general are as a place of residence for a variety of marine flora and fauna. We can find various types of fish, invertebrates and marine mammals that used to live around coral reefs.

Coral reefs also cover a portion of the seabed, although only less than 1 percent. In addition, another benefit of coral reefs is to support all marine life, which is estimated to be up to 25% of marine life that lives on coral reefs, with the number of fish alone reaching more than 4,000 species.

In addition, coral reefs also become spawning grounds for marine biota, a place to play young marine biota, as well as a place to shelter and find food for various types of marine organisms, including sponges, cnidarians, worms, crustaceans (such as shrimp, lobsters and crabs), molluscs (including cephalopods), echinoderms (such as starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers), snakes, turtles, and sea squirts.

The structure of coral reefs also plays an important role for breaking waves from the ocean. The existence of coral reefs is useful to minimize the impact of storms caused by large waves, such as cyclones, hurricanes or typhoons.

In addition, the beauty of coral reefs also presents a special attraction so that many tourists who want to come enjoy the coral reefs. That is, coral reefs are useful for inviting tourists by providing beautiful views. This tourism industry can bring a lot of foreign exchange, improve the people’s economy, open up employment opportunities and bring progress to other lines related to the tourism industry.

In conclusion, the benefits of coral reefs in general can be grouped in two ways, namely direct benefits or “direct use values”, namely in the form of fisheries and the tourism industry, as well as indirect benefits or “indirect use values” in the form of coastline protection.

Damage to Coral Reefs

Just like other natural vegetation, coral reefs can also be damaged. Damage to coral reefs can have a negative impact on the surrounding natural ecosystems. Indonesia as a country that is rich in coral reefs apparently also feels the adverse effects of damage to these coral reefs.

In fact, damage to coral reefs that occurred in Indonesia can be said to be cause for concern. How not, in the past ten years, the existing coral reefs in Indonesia experienced a drastic decrease in number.

So, what causes this damage to coral reefs? Common causes are human activities, such as the following:

  1. The fishing activities and coral reef biota are carried out continuously with excessive amounts. Due to a decrease in the number and diversity of species that are not ideal, then coral reef resources become depleted quickly and biological imbalances occur.
  2. The use of poisons and explosives in capturing coral reefs and the surrounding marine life. Unfortunately, almost all coral reef locations use destructive catching methods. In fact, this makes the coral reefs destroyed and die, in addition to also can make the fish and other biota that are not the target of the catch also affected badly. As a result, many resources are wasted in vain.
  3. The existence of pollution and puddling due to development in coastal areas whose numbers are out of control. Deforestation and vegetation carried out along riverbanks can result in puddling that occurs in coral reef areas. This is what can kill this ecosystem.
  4. The taking and mining of corals for lime base materials, building materials and traded for decoration, especially those that are done excessively.
  5. Utilization of fish inhabiting coral reefs and other biota as ornamental fish, and carried out excessively. Marine aquarium can be regarded as a very profitable business. However, if this utilization is not carried out carefully and there is no continuous monitoring, it can result in serious damage to coral reefs.
  6. The tourism industry in the coastal areas with its main activities in the form of underwater tourism. Typically, this kind of tourism industry, especially those that occur in dive tourism destinations, use many tourism vessels that often dump anchors in coral reef areas. The presence of anchors, coupled with oil spills from ships and industrial waste dumps can also be a threat to the survival of coral reefs.

Impact of Coral Damage

Given the many functions and benefits of coral reefs, it is only fitting that we take part in maintaining that these coral reefs can be sustainable. Various efforts are needed to protect this coral reef in order to maintain the preservation of the coral reef.

Because after all, with the preservation of the coral reef that is maintained, the natural ecosystem will also be maintained, as well as being able to help the economy of the small people, who are around it. It’s just that, unfortunately, these communities sometimes also contribute to damage to coral reefs. Because, it is the people who use coral reefs to traditionally support the coral reef fishing industry.

Excessive use without the preservation of these activities make coral reef damage worse. The impact of damage to these coral reefs eventually also returns to the economic losses of the community.

In Indonesia alone, the impact of damage to coral reefs in economic terms is said to reach 46 million dollars in just over 4 years. This is based on the results of research conducted by Herman Cesar, a world bank consultant.

This damage is mainly caused by the use of poisons on a large scale by traditional fishermen. In addition, there was a loss of 86,000 dollars per square kilometer due to the use of explosives.

The calculation of the loss of the potential economic value of the coral reef is calculated from the cost of repairs needed to protect the beach after the coral reef has disappeared. Remember, is not it, that one of the functions of coral reefs is to protect coastal areas from the threat of erosion that occurs due to currents and waves.

Without a coral reef, up to 193,000 dollars per square kilometer is needed for the cost of protecting the coastline in Indonesia. Hmm, really high isn’t it? Of course it’s too bad if we have to pay such a high cost, for a protection that can actually be done by nature by itself,

Moreover, the value of this loss is not a small number. Not to mention, if you remember the price of fish sold from the results of this destructive fishing is very minimal. For example, like the selling price of a grouper which is only valued at Rp 5,000 / kg when purchased from local fishermen. While this price can be very high when the fish has been placed as a special dish in the restaurant.

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Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Program

The condition of damage to coral reefs in Indonesia is already at an alarming point. The results of monitoring carried out showed that the condition of coral reefs in 371 locations in the western and eastern parts of Indonesia, only 6.20 percent of the total coral reefs were in very good condition. The 75 percent of them are in moderate condition or can be very bad.

Seeing this alarming condition, various efforts are needed to slow down the damage and avoid the worsening condition of the coral reef. To that end, the Indonesian government has launched a coral reef rehabilitation and management program (CORE-MAP).

This program has the main objective of managing and utilizing coral reef resources in a sustainable manner in order to improve the welfare of the people living in the 10 selected provinces that are COREMAP locations. The 10 locations are: West Nusa Tenggara and East Nusa Tenggara, South Sulawesi, North Sulawesi and Southeast Sulawesi, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Riau, Maluku and Papua.

In the effort to manage and rehabilitate these coral reefs, five main components are determined, as follows.

a # Awareness Raising and Community Participation

This component aims to increase public awareness, especially those around the coral reef area, of the important role of coral reefs. In addition, the community will also be invited to play an active role and be responsible for managing and utilizing coral reefs in their area in a sustainable manner.

b # Community Based Management

Community-based management, for example, is carried out in the following ways:

  1. Fostering the community so that they can carry out alternative activities to improve the economy. Examples include cultivation activities, tour guides, and handicraft businesses. Efforts that will increase the income of the local community can be done by way of coaching accompanied by providing financial assistance that can be channeled through various systems so as not to burden the community.
  2. Apply knowledge and technology of rehabilitation and management of coral reefs so that the community can be used sustainably.

c # Institutional Development

This component includes an effort, in the form of:

  1. Strengthening coordination between agencies that have a role in handling coral reefs, both in terms of area management, security forces, resource users, and environmentalists.
  2. Improving the ability of human resources, by holding various training related to coral reef rehabilitation management and techniques.

d # Research, Monitoring and Evaluation

This component is carried out by monitoring community activities, especially those directly related to coral reefs. This effort was carried out by establishing a monitoring and information network system for coral reefs through the construction of existing nodes in several provinces. Supervision of this activity is directly carried out by LIPI, as a party that already has stations in several places.

e # Law Enforcement

This component is a component that can be said to be very important, namely as one of the key components that must be implemented in an effort to achieve the objectives of the rehabilitation and management program of coral reefs. Because, these efforts will fail if the law is not enforced and there is a deviation from the rules that have been set.

Thus the description of coral reefs, which includes functions, benefits and damage to coral reefs. Coral reefs are very beautiful biota and have very high economic and aesthetic value.

There are various other benefits that can indirectly be obtained from the existence of this coral reef. For example, with the type of coral reef sponge that apparently after research, can be a cure for cancer. Incredible discovery isn’t it? Research has also proven that these coral animals contain a lot of calcium carbonate and have been used for the treatment of brittle bones.

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