"Linking the Economy and Environment of the Florida Keys 2007-08" is a 12-year replication of the study "Linking the Economy and Environment of the Florida Keys/Florida Bay 1995-96", which was designed to estimate the market and nonmarket economic values of recreation/tourism uses of the marine resources of the Florida Keys/Florida Bay ecosystem, provide a practical demonstration of how market and nonmarket economic values of an ecosystem can be considered an integral component of the economy of a region when formulating sustainable development objectives and policies, and foster cooperative management processes. The updated study builds on successes of previous efforts and adds new information.
As with the 1995-96 study, this project was conducted through a unique partnership between federal and local public agencies and a private nonprofit organization. Two offices within NOAA’s National Ocean Service – the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science -- together with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Florida Keys Program, and The Monroe County Tourist Development Council (TDC), originally entered into the cooperative agreement. Local businesses have also contributed greatly with in-kind contributions through a lottery/sweepstakes that provided an opportunity for visitors to win a free vacation to the Florida Keys if they returned the mailback portion of their survey.
The overall project objectives are to (1) estimate the market and nonmarket economic values of recreation/tourism uses of the marine resources of the Florida Keys/Florida Bay ecosystem; (2) provide a practical demonstration of how both market and nonmarket economic values of an ecosystem can be considered integral components of the economy of a region when formulating sustainable development objectives and policies; and (3) foster the goal of improving cooperative management processes.
The project replicates two of the largest and most comprehensive survey efforts ever conducted for any U.S. county. Both residents and nonresidents (visitors) of Monroe County, Florida (the Florida Keys/Key West) were surveyed. The visitor survey was conducted through contracts with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Human Dimensions of Marine and Coastal Ecosystems Program. The Bicentennial Volunteers, Inc. did the actual interviewing for the winter survey of visitors. Local people were hired for the visitor summer season surveys. Residents of the Florida Keys were surveyed through a mail survey conducted by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
- Visitation estimates. Estimates of the number of visitors by season (winter and summer) and by access (e.g., auto, air, cruise ship and ferry). In 2007-08, the ferry was added since it didn’t exist as a way of accessing the Florida Keys in 1995-96. Also, the Marathon Airport did not provide commercial flights in 2007-08.
- Use Estimates. Estimates of number of residents and visitors that did each recreation activity by region/district of the Florida Keys. In 1995-96, the estimates were provided for four regions, while in 2007-08 estimates will be produced for five districts/regions. In 2007-08, breakdowns will be done for the 1995-96 Middle Keys into estimates for Islamorada and Marathon. The 1995-96 Upper Keys have been renamed the Key Largo District. Person-days of selected activities are also estimated.
- Importance-Satisfaction Ratings. The 2007-08 study actually represents the third time the importance-satisfaction ratings will have been done. Estimates were also made in 1995-96 and 2000-01. Importance-satisfaction ratings are obtained for 25 natural resource attributes, facilities and services in the Florida Keys for both residents and visitors. These measurements serve as indicators of people's perceptions of resource conditions and have been linked with ecological monitoring measurements. They also serve as indicators for the economic value of recreation-tourism and are interpreted through connection to a conceptual model linking the economy and environment.
- Economic Contribution. The surveys provide information to develop spending profiles by both residents and visitors. These spending profiles provide the basis for developing estimates of total spending and the associated economic contribution as measured by total output/sales, income and employment generated in the local Monroe County/Florida Keys economy.
- Nonmarket Economic Values. These are the net economic use value received by residents and visitors that use the natural resources and environment of the Florida Keys while undertaking recreation-tourist activities. These are the economic values used in estimating the benefits of investments in protecting or restoring the natural resources/environment and when suing for damages from a responsible party.
- Socioeconomic/Demographic Profiles. The surveys are used to obtain detailed information on the age, gender, race/ethnicity, education level, household income, and place of permanent residency of visitors and residents. In addition, for visitors, number of annual visits and length of visits (measured in number of days and number of nights) is obtained.
- Environmental Concern/Behavior Index. This is a based on a series of 16 questions used to estimate the Environmental Concern or Behavior Index from the Weigel and Weigel. This index has been used by many researchers to predict environmental behaviors. Some have also used it to predict participation in different recreation activities.
Several new survey modules were designed to address new information needs by members of the community, FKNMS managers, and other project partners.
- Knowledge, Attitudes and Perceptions of FKNMS Management Strategies and Regulations. A recent study was just completed on a 10-year replication of a study done for commercial fishers, dive operators and environmental group members. Here the same issues are addressed for all residents and visitors of Monroe County/Florida Keys.
- Specialization. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Human Dimensions of Marine and Coastal Ecosystems Program are at the forefront on research in Specialization Theory. Specialization theory allows for the categorization of different recreation-tourist users into different groups that specialize in certain activities. This grouping in turn allows for better predicting how people will respond to various management strategies and regulations.
- Management Alternatives. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Human Dimensions of Marine and Coastal Ecosystems program and Clemson University in South Carolina have designed a module of survey questions to address people’s preferences for various management strategies and regulations in the FKNMS. This research is also part of the five-year study funded by NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal and Ocean Science on coral reef ecosystems: societal preferences and policy/management. This latter research effort is designed to address the question of whether policy/management is delivering what people want from coral reef ecosystems.
- Climate Change/Coral Bleaching. In 2004, Ove and Hans Hoegh-Guldberg presented a study done on the "Biological, Economic, and Social Impacts of Climate Change on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia" at the 10th Annual Coral Reef Symposium in Okinawa, Japan. Ove is a leading coral ecologist and Hans is an economist. The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force recommended that the study be done in the Florida Keys. In FY 2005, NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) funded a scoping effort by Hans to see if the study could be extended to the Florida Keys. In FY 2007 & 2008, CRCP funded the study in the Florida Keys. The study was included in the Socioeconomic Research & Monitoring Program for the FKNMS and portions of the study were integrated into the 12-year replication of the study on recreation-tourism, however sample sizes achieved did not support estimation of economic values but did provide a good pre-test of the methods to support future efforts