New Web Tool Helps Communities Learn the Economic ‘Value’ of Their Environment

By Nikki Buskey | Published: September 29, 2020

New Web Tool Helps Communities Learn the Economic ‘Value’ of Their Environment

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is pleased to announce the launch of BlueValue.org, a new searchable database that will connect users with legitimate scientific data and research about the economic and personal value of the coastal and marine ecosystems in which they live and work in one simple web tool.

BlueValue was officially rolled out during the Gulf of Mexico Alliance’s 2020 Virtual Tools Café on Tuesday, September 29. For more information about BlueValue, including a how-to guide, visit the BlueValue Blog.

“It so important to have access to data and information that can help in decision-making, research, and just plain curiosity about the value people place on the natural things that are important to us,” said Dr. David Yoskowitz, HRI Senior Executive Director, who developed the web tool with his HRI Socio-Economics Group. “BlueValue is that place and we wanted to make it accessible and easily understood by everyone.”

Our coastal communities are facing new challenges, including population growth, climate change, and natural disasters that put unprecedented pressure on our natural ecosystems. Better understanding the benefits and uses that we humans gain from our natural environment – what we call ecosystem services – can help us to understand their role in our human communities and help us to make better decisions about how to manage our resources.

Ecosystem services can include everything from recreational activities like fishing and surfing to the pure personal enjoyment derived from living on the coast. BlueValue helps to illuminate the importance that we place on these ecosystems – their value – by sharing the latest science and information.

There have been many ecosystem valuation studies conducted by scientists, economists, practitioners and others around the world but it can be difficult and time-consuming for decision-makers to find and access that information when conducting their resource work. The goal of BlueValue is to offer quick and easy access to ecosystem values in numbers, and it houses literature from around the world that users can download, cite, bring to meetings and share with others.

BlueValue was developed by HRI’s Socio-Economics Group, including Yoskowitz and Research Associate Kara Coffey. Originally launched as an online tool as GecoServ (Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Services Valuation Database) in 2011, the project was revamped and relaunched as BlueValue this summer. The web tool was redesigned to better allow for the redistribution and sharing of information about ecosystem services valuation studies relevant to the Gulf of Mexico region, and to help identify current gaps in ecosystem services literature. The hope is that with a more user-friendly design and updated look, the web tool will be easier to use and more accessible to a new audience of coastal stakeholders.

The redesign was supported by the Harte Research Institute with the assistance of A&M-Corpus Christi Honors Program students Michael Young, Yasmine Carcamo, Emma Morrow, and Grace Rush.