Restoration economy shoutout in Presidential Memorandum Announcement

Our work on “Estimating the Size and Impact of the Ecological Restoration Economy,” was cited in the announcement for a recent presidential memorandum on “Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment,” aimed at The Secretaries of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, EPA Administrator, and NOAA Administrator.

The memo …”encourage[s] private investment in restoration and public-private partnerships, and help foster opportunities for businesses or non-profit organizations with relevant expertise to successfully achieve restoration and conservation objectives.”

It goes on to say…

“Section 1. Policy. It shall be the policy of the Departments of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture; the Environmental Protection Agency; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and all bureaus or agencies within them (agencies)….

Large-scale plans and analysis should inform the identification of areas where development may be most appropriate, where high natural resource values result in the best locations for protection and restoration, or where natural resource values are irreplaceable. Furthermore, because doing so lowers long-term risks to our environment and reduces timelines of development and other projects, agency policies should seek to encourage advance compensation, including mitigation bank-based approaches, in order to provide resource gains before harmful impacts occur. The design and implementation of those policies should be crafted to result in predictability sufficient to provide incentives for the private and non-governmental investments often needed to produce successful advance compensation. Wherever possible, policies should operate similarly across agencies and be implemented consistently within them.”

Did the Executive Office just require the use of watershed planning for mitigation markets?!  This is something I’ve been encouraging for years.  It was originally talked about in the National Research Council’s 2001 evaluation, and I wrote about how it could work effectively back in 2010. 

Shoulders have been officially brushed off…

Restoration Economy survey paper published in PLoS ONE

Hot off the presses and open access is our paper assessing the size of the “Restoration Economy” – the ecological restoration industry – in the United States.

Estimating the Size and Impact of the Ecological Restoration Economy

 Substantial attention has focused on the seemingly high costs of environmental regulations and public investments in ecological restoration.  Drawing particular scrutiny have been regulations or public programs that require ecosystem restoration, which is often required to offset some of the environmental impacts of certain types of development, agricultural practices, or other human activities.  For example, recent debates over important issues like domestic climate policy and the expansion of the US Clean Water Act have centered on the economic impacts of expanded restoration requirements.  Several industry-sponsored reports have suggested a strong negative impact on our economy and on job production.

However, this public debate has occurred in the absence of empirical research on the positive economic impacts of restoration at the national level.  What are the national-level economic and employment impacts resulting from environmental restoration, restoration-related conservation, and mitigation actions?  Recently, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Yale University, and a private equity firm, conducted a national survey of businesses that participate in restoration work in order to answer this question.

Published in the prestigious academic journal, Public Library of Science – ONE, the researchers determined that the U.S. ecological restoration industry directly employs nearly 126,000 workers and generates $9.5 billion in economic output (sales) annually.  This means that restoration employs more people than all American iron and steel mills, and nearly as many as the motor vehicle manufacturing industry.  They found that these sales support an additional 95,000 jobs and $15 billion in economic output through indirect (business-to-business) linkages and increased household spending.  This means that – even without considering all of the economic benefits of ecological restoration (such as improved water or air quality, aesthetics, or recreation opportunities) – the ecological restoration industry has an annual overall economic impact of $24.8 billion.  The authors also estimated that this economic impact generates nearly $1.02 billion in yearly local and state taxes, and an additional $2.13 billion for federal coffers.

New Op-Ed in Greenville Reflector

Check out my op-ed in the Greenville Reflector on our NSF Coastal SEES project on Salinization in North Carolina’s Coastal Plain!  We discuss our project and explore our upcoming efforts to interface with the public on this important issue!