The Center for American Progress and Oxfam America released a report on the long-term economic benefits of restoring coastal ecosystems.
The report finds that each dollar invested by taxpayers returns more than $15 in net economic benefits for three restoration projects funded in 2009 by stimulus grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.
Healthy coastal ecosystems provide not just environmental benefits but critical social benefits as well.
They filter pollution, buffer coasts against extreme weather, serve as nurseries that sustain fisheries, and support tourism, recreation, and the culture of coastal communities.
“Investing in coastal restoration is good policy. It’s not just the right thing to do for the environment; it’s the right thing to do for coastal communities, vulnerable coastal populations, and the U.S. economy,” said Michael Conathan, Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress. “Our coastline represents the front line in the fight against climate change, and healthy, restored wetlands ecosystems are our best defense against the onslaught.”
The long-term payout of restored coastal ecosystems can help sustain local communities down the road; but there is also direct stimulus to these communities in the form of jobs.
Previous research established that 1 million dollars invested in coastal restoration creates, on average, 17.1 jobs. For comparison, offshore oil and gas creates approximately 8.9 jobs per million dollars of investment.
And in low-income coastal communities, these restoration jobs can be significant pathways out of poverty.
“Investing in coastal restoration projects is a great way to connect the dots in these vital and vulnerable areas of our country,” said Jeffrey Buchanan, Senior Domestic Policy Advisor at Oxfam America. “We can put people to work in jobs that offer decent pay and ladders of opportunity at the same time that we sustain local businesses, restore fisheries, provide protection against storm surges, and protect communities in danger of losing a culture and a way of life. It’s a win all around.”
By analyzing three locations —Seaside Bays of Virginia’s Atlantic coast, Mobile Bay, Alabama, and South San Francisco Bay, California—CAP and Oxfam America found that investing in well-designed coastal restoration can be highly cost effective and generate economic activity for generations to come.
Press Release, April 10, 2014