Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2023

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Business Administration

First Advisor

Sharon Hayes

Second Advisor

Rachna Prakash

Third Advisor

Marc Slattery

Relational Format



This paper investigates both the economic benefits and costs of protecting Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR). The benefits associated with the Reef come from a 2016 Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited report and quantifies direct economic contributions, nonuse values, and a social, economic, and icon value. The costs of protecting the Reef come from a collection of sources, including the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, “The Cost and Feasibility of Marine Coastal Restoration”, and a number of annual reports from governmental and non-governmental organizations. By analyzing these documents, the net benefits were calculated. The Great Barrier Reef contributes $6.4 billion to the Australian economy annually, supports 64,000 jobs, and has a total social, economic, and icon value of $56 billion. While there are large monetary benefits associated with the Reef, average costs associated with ensuring the Reef’s survival add up to $264 million annually, and restoration costs of $45,621 for each hectare of reef restored. Of the direct contribution benefits and direct costs, there are net benefits of approximately $6.1 billion each year. However, when looking at the net benefits of restoring the Reef, only 7% of the Reef could be restored while remaining economically efficient. Although the true benefits provided by the Reef are underestimated, and the costs are likely overestimated, the finding of this paper is that the Great Barrier Reef can and should be protected from further damage.

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