Economic Impacts of Ecological Restoration

Science Center Objects

Federal investments in ecosystem restoration projects protect Federal trusts, ensure public health and safety, and preserve and enhance essential ecosystem services. These investments also generate business activity and create jobs. However, limited information exists on the costs and associated economic impacts of ecosystem restoration projects due to the complexity of the “restoration economy”.

The restoration economy project has developed methods, tools, and analyses to enable DOI partners to assess the economic impacts of restoration expenditures. Research led by the SEA economists in cooperation with the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Restoration Program, the DOI Office of Policy Analysis (PPA), and the BLM Socioeconomics Program. The project has piloted data collection methods and analysis tools through a series of case studies associated with DOI lands and programs. As an extension of this research, SEA economists are working with NRDA and PPA to design a web-application portal to efficiently streamline tracking of restoration cost information.

Beyond the impacts to jobs and business activities, economics can play an important role in understanding the return on project investments by studying the benefits of project outcomes to society. In a recent study completed by SEA economists, the economic value of targeted ecosystem services anticipated to be affected by restoration activities in the central Everglades were calculated. This study was a partnership between USGS, the Army Corps of Engineers, the South Florida Management District, and the University of Florida. Other ongoing research is the Susquehanna River Basin water quality improvement study. Here, SEA economists are seeking to value the benefits of reducing nutrient and sediment runoff from stormwater treatment projects and riparian restoration improvement projects.

Map of restoration case study locations

Map of Department of the Interior restoration case study locations (Public domain.)