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Investing in nature: Restoring coastal habitat blue infrastructure and green job creation


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This study examines the economic impact of the expenditures from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) administered for coastal habitat restoration projects around the United States. Estimates of the total jobs created as well as the average number of jobs created per million dollars spent are provided. The study shows that the 50 ARRA projects administered by NOAA in the first year and half generated a total of 1409 jobs. These habitat restoration projects created, on average, 17 jobs per million dollars spent which is similar to other conservation industries such as parks and land conservation, and much higher than other traditional industries including coal, gas, and nuclear energy generation. This suggests that habitat restoration is indeed an effective way to stimulate job creation. In addition, habitat restoration has longer-term economic benefits, including future job creation in rebuilt fisheries and coastal tourism, and benefits to coastal economies including higher property values and better water quality. Therefore, investing in blue infrastructure habitat restoration is a green opportunity benefiting coastal economies and societies in both the short and the long term.
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Investing in nature: Restoring coastal habitat blue infrastructure and green
job creation
P.E.T. Edwards
, A.E. Sutton-Grier
, G.E. Coyle
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Habitat Conservation, SSMC3 Room 14000, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA
IM Systems Group, Inc., Rockville, MD 20852, USA
Earth Resources Technology, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA
Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT 06459, USA
article info
Article history:
Received 13 March 2012
Received in revised form
14 May 2012
Accepted 15 May 2012
Available online 2 June 2012
Economic impact
Coastal and marine habitat restoration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA)
Green jobs
Blue infrastructure
This study examines the economic impact of the expenditures from the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
administered for coastal habitat restoration projects around the United States. Estimates of the total
jobs created as well as the average number of jobs created per milli on dollars spent are provided. The
study shows that the 50 ARRA projects administered by NOAA in the first year and half generated a
total of 1409 jobs. These habitat restoration projects created, on average, 17 jobs per million dollars
spent which is similar to other conservation industries such as parks and land conservation, and much
higher than other traditional industries including coal, gas, and nuclear energy generation. This
suggests that habitat restoration is indeed an effective way to stimulate job creation. In addition,
habitat restoration has longer-term economic benefits, including future job creation in rebuilt fisheries
and coastal tourism, and benefits to coastal economies including higher property values and better
water quality. Therefore, investing in blue infrastructure habitat restoration is a green opportunity
benefiting coastal economies and societies in both the short and the long term.
& 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Coastal, marine, and riverine habitats are among some of the
most biologically rich and economically valuable areas on Earth
[13]. In 2010, they supplied 58% of the Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) and 66 million jobs in U.S. coastal counties [4]. Much of this
economic activity (such as commercial fishing which accounts for
$4 billion in landed value annually) [5], is dependent on healthy,
productive coastal ecosystems. However, a report by the Environ-
mental Protection Agency (EPA) [6] found that U.S. coasts are only
in ‘‘fair’’ condition and are threatened by pollution, sediments,
and habitat destruction. Fortunately, coastal habitat restoration
can help improve water quality and key species’ habitats [7,8] and
therefore can improve the health and productivity of these
important coastal ecosystems upon which our economy depends.
Habitat is the physical substrate in which organisms live or,
alternatively phrased, is the ‘‘infrastructure’’ that is required for
the organisms and ecosystems to function. For example, the
physical substrate that modern day human beings require to
function includes infrastructure such as roads, railways, bridges,
etc. The term ‘‘blue infrastructure’’ refers to the coastal and near
shore habitats that provide the physical matrix for ecological
functions, which in-turn provide important services and ecologi-
cal benefits to society. Besides key ecological benefits, coastal
restoration also provides critical economic benefits by rehabili-
tating important habitats and ecosystems that contribute to the
economic prosperity and well-being of coastal communities and
the nation as a whole [9]. Habitat restoration rehabilitates the
nation’s ‘‘blue infrastructure’’ and has the potential to create a
significant number of jobs as well as provide long-term economic
benefits to the United States.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
is responsible for conserving and managing coastal and marine
ecosystems and resources. NOAA relies on scientific approaches
that are in turn used to better understand and predict changes in
climate, weather, oceans, and coasts. NOAA’s overall mission is
described with three words, ‘‘Science, Service, and Stewardship’’.
This implies that if the agency succeeds with its mission, this
would ultimately lead to healthy ecosystems, communities, and
economies that are resilient in the face of change. Specific
responsibility for coastal habitat restoration lies with NOAA’s
Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect
journal homepage:
Marine Policy
0308-597X/$ - see front matter & 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Corresponding author at: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
Office of Habitat Conservation, SSMC3 Room 14000, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA.
Tel.: þ 1 301 427 8608; fax: þ1 301 713 0184.
E-mail addresses: (P.E.T. Edwards), ariana.sutton- (A.E. Sutton-Grier), (G.E. Coyle).
Tel.: þ 1 301 427 8626.
Marine Policy 38 (2013) 65–71
Author's personal copy
Restoration Center. The Restoration Center is a division of the
Office of Habitat Conservation (part of the National Marine Fish-
eries Service). The NOAA Restoration Center undertakes a variety
of habitat conservation activities that among other things con-
tribute to the return of degraded or altered marine, estuarine,
coastal, and freshwater (diadromous fish) habitats to a close
approximation of their function prior to disturbance. In addition
habitat restoration activities also include those that produce
significant ecological habitat features that create buffers or ‘‘blue
infrastructure’’ which serve to protect coastal communities from
sea level rise, coastal storms and flooding, or provide adaptation
to climate change [10].
There are four main focal areas of NOAA’s Restoration Center
activities based on specific restoration goals: (1) hydrological
reconnection, (2) restoring or protecting shellfish reefs or (3) coral
reefs, and (4) restoring fish passage opportunities by removing
dams. NOAA typically provides grants to partner organizations to
support these habitat restoration projects [11].
NOAA delivers funding and technical expertise to restore
coastal and marine habitats. These habitats support valuable
fisheries and protected resources, improve the quality of our
water, provide recreational opportunities for the public’s use
and enjoyment and buffer our coastal communities from the
impacts of storms and sea level rise. Projects funded through
NOAA have strong on-the-ground habitat restoration components
that provide social and economic benefits for people and their
communities in addition to long-term ecological habitat
Background: Blue infrastructure ARRA projects
In February 2009, NOAA received $167 million from the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to
restore coastal habitat and help jump-start the nation’s economy
by supporting thousands of jobs. The funds were administered by
the NOAA Restoration Center (RC), a division of NOAA Fisheries’,
Office of Habitat Conservation and the only office within NOAA
solely devoted to protecting and restoring the nation’s coastal,
marine, and migratory fish habitats. NOAA RC received 800
project proposals for ARRA funding, worth approximately $3
billion in costs for a range of restoration project types. The
proposals were received from state and local resource manage-
ment agencies, NGOs and other entities involved in coastal
habitat restoration.
The principal objective of the NOAA Coastal and Marine
Habitat Restoration Project (ARRA) Grants was to provide Federal
financial and technical assistance to ‘‘ready-to-go’’ (shovel-ready)
projects that met NOAA’s mission to restore marine and coastal
habitats and that would result in near-immediate stimulation of
local United States economies through the creation or retention of
restoration-related jobs for work in U.S. jurisdictions. Shovel-
ready projects were those where (1) feasibility studies and/or
other baseline information required for a design were already
available, (2) where required consultations and permits, if not in-
hand, were either in progress or had reasonable assurance
provided that would be attained quickly, and (3) where National
Environment and Policy Act (NEPA) analysis and other environ-
mental permits and authorizations were completed, so that the
project could be implemented shortly after funding was made
High priority was given to project applications that:
Had the greatest potential to achieve ecological benefits and
maximize jobs creation/preservation;
Were able to begin within the first 90 day of the award start
Could be completed within 12–18 months;
Had the greatest potential to be sustainable and provide
lasting benefits of regional or national significance;
Identified specific goals and outcomes, with appropriate eco-
logical and economic performance metrics;
Proposed sufficient, cost-effective monitoring appropriate to
the scope and scale of the project to evaluate a project’s
Were consistent with NOAA species recovery planning efforts
if located in areas where recovery planning efforts for Endan-
gered Species Act listed species were underway;
Funds were requested primarily to implement physical, on-
the-ground coastal habitat restoration (as opposed to funds for
general program support, overhead and travel).
After a rigorous selection process, the agency funded 50 high
quality, high priority coastal restoration projects. The start date
for successful project awards was May 1, 2009 and projects were
encouraged to aim for completion in 18–24 months. Successful
applicants were able to negotiate for lengthened award periods
based on specific activities or unforeseen project delays,
permitting etc.
This study reports the findings from the analysis of the data
collected from 44 of the ARRA projects that are completed or
nearly completed. The study examines the economic impact of
restoration expenditures by analyzing the number and range of
jobs that were created across different restoration project types.
Economic impact analysis: IMPLAN
Economic impact analyses seek to portray economic activity at
single point in time [12] or in other words, a ‘‘snapshot’’ of the
economy, detailing the sales and purchases of goods and services
between all sectors of the economy for a given period of time within
a conceptual framework derived from economic theory. This
involves the use of statistical models that quantify relationships
among industr ies. The models are based on the pattern of purchases
by industries and the associated distribution of jobs and wages by
industry. Input–out put (I–O) models measure output, or impacts, in
two different ways‘‘indirect’’ impacts and ‘‘induced’’ impacts.
‘‘Indirect’’ impacts are the changes in inter-industry purchases as
they respond to new demands of directly affected industries.
The estimation of multipliers relies on input–output models, a
technique for quantifying interactions between firms, industries,
and social institutions within a local economy. We used the widely
accepted economic input/output software called IMPLAN (which is
an acronym for Impact Analyses and Planning) to estimate overall
jobs and economic impacts. IMPLAN is currently used by a broad
range of users including several federal and state government
agencies, colleges and universities, non-profit organizations, cor-
porations, and business development and community planning
organizations [13]. For example the Bureau of Economic Analysis
utilized IMPLAN to generate data that is, in part, used to produce
economic accounts statistics that enable government and business
decision-makers, researchers, and the public to follow and under-
stand the performance of the U.S. economy [13].
Below is a brief overview of how the IMPLAN model works.
The IMPLAN model organizes the economy into 505 separate
industries and has comprehensive data on every area of the
United States. IMPLAN is a computer software package that
consists of procedures for estimating local input–output models
and associated databases. IMPLAN was originally developed by
the U.S. Forest Service in cooperation with the Federal Emergency
P.E.T. Edwards et al. / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 65–7166
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Management Agency and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s
Bureau of Land Management to assist in land and resource
management planning. Since 1993, the IMPLAN system has been
developed under exclusive rights by the Minnesota Implan Group,
Inc. (Stillwater, Minnesota) which licenses and distributes the
software to users.
The economic data for IMPLAN comes from the system of
national accounts for the United States based on data collected by
the U. S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics, and other federal and state government agencies. Data
are collected for 528 distinct producing industry sectors of the
national economy corresponding to the Standard Industrial Cate-
gories. Industry sectors are classified on the basis of the primary
commodity or service produced. Corresponding data sets are also
produced for each county in the United States, allowing analyses at
the county level and for geographic aggregations such as clusters of
contiguous counties, individual states, or groups of states.
Data provided for each industry sector include outputs and
inputs from other sectors, value added, employment, wages and
business taxes paid, imports and exports, final demand by house-
holds and government, capital investment, business inventories,
marketing margins, and inflations factors (deflators). These data
are provided both for the 528 producing sectors at the national
level and for the corresponding sectors at the county level. Data
on the technological mix of inputs and levels of transactions
between producing sectors are taken from detailed input–output
tables of the national economy. National and county level data are
the basis for IMPLAN calculations of input–output tables and
multipliers for local areas.
The IMPLAN software package allows the estimation of the
multiplier effects of changes in final demand for one industry on
all other industries within a local economic area. The modeling of
these effects are based on Social Accounting Matrices (SAM) that
represent flows of all economic transactions that take place
within an economy (regional or national). Multipliers may be
estimated for a single county, for groups of contiguous counties,
or for an entire state; they measure total changes in output,
income, employment, or value added. Definitions are provided
below. More detail on the derivations of multipliers is available in
the IMPLAN User’s Guide [14].
For a particular producing industry, multipliers estimate three
components of total change within the local area:
Direct effects represent the initial change in the industry in
Indirect effects are changes in inter-industry transactions as
supplying industries respond to increased demands from the
directly affected industries.
Induced effects reflect changes in local spending that result
from income changes in the directly and indirectly affected
industry sectors.
IMPLAN allows the analyst to choose from multipliers that
capture only direct and indirect effects (Type I), multipliers that
capture all three effects noted above (Type II), and multipliers
that capture the three effects noted above and further account for
commuting, social security and income taxes, and savings by
households (Type SAM). Total effects multipliers usually range in
size from 1.5 to 2.5 and are interpreted as indicated below:
Output multipliers relate the changes in sales to final demand
by one industry to total changes in output (gross sales) by all
industries within the local area. An industry output multiplier
of 1.65 would indicate that a change in sales to final demand of
$1.00 by the industry in question would result in a total
change in local output of $1.65.
Income and employment multipliers relate the change in direct
income to changes in total income within the local economy.
For example, an income multiplier for a direct industry change
of 1.75 indicates that a $1.00 change in income in the direct
industry will produce a total income change of $1.75 in the
local economy. Similarly, an employment multiplier of 1.75
indicates that the creation of one new direct job will result in a
total of 1.75 jobs in the local economy.
Value added multipliers are interpreted the same as income and
employment multipliers. They relate changes in value added in
the industry experiencing the direct effect to total changes in
value added for the local economy.
For this analysis income and employment multipliers are used
as described above. It should be noted that IMPLAN employment
estimates include all full-time, part time, and temporary positions.
When employment is counted this way, one cannot tell from the
data the number of hours worked or the proportion that is full or
part-time. The estimate provided by IMPLAN is the annual average
employment, and the income and production associated with that
employment and is a one-time effect. Because IMPLAN estimates
full-time jobs, the total number of people employed by these
projects is likely to be higher than the total jobs reported because
many of these projects employed people for part of a year.
Calculation of Jobs created per million dollars spent
Estimated jobs for each project can be standardized to a jobs-per-
million-dollar metric. After estimating the employment per project
this figure is divided by $1 million and multiplied by the actual
expenditure for that period. This calculates a jobs-per-million-dollar
estimate and allows for comparison of this estimate across projects
with varying levels of expenditures. Jobs per million is also a
standard reporting metric that is used when discussing the cost
effectiveness of government spending [see, for example, 15]).
Data used in the analysis
In order to facilitate accountability and proper tracking, ARRA
grant recipients were required to report restoration expenditures
organized by NAICS (North American Industry Classification Sys-
tem) codes [16,17]. The requirement for grant recipients to report
expenditures by NAICS codes allowed NOAA to investigate eco-
nomic impacts of ARRA habitat restoration expenditures by con-
ducting Input–Output (I/O) analysis using analytical software [17].
IMPLAN 2.0 software was used to generate estimates for the
economic multiplier effects of expenditures and employment in
‘‘full-time equivalent’’ (FTE) job-years [18]. Here, IMPLAN was used
to estimate three categories of jobs: direct, indirect, and induced.
In this example, direct employment refers to Americans who
use their skills to restore damaged wetlands, shellfish beds, coral
reefs and reopen fish passages that boost the health and resiliency
of coastal and Great Lakes areas. Indirect jobs are generated by
industries that supply materials or services that support projects
such as suppliers who provide nursery plantings, lumber, or
concrete, as well as miscellaneous professional services including
scientific, engineering, or legal consulting. Induced jobs are the
result of expenditures by restoration employees and businesses.
For example, when workers at the restoration site go out to lunch,
they are supporting induced jobs in local restaurants. By spending
money locally on goods and services, project personnel support a
wider variety of business, which in turn may stimulate demand
for more employees in a wider variety of industries [19].
It should be noted that recipients of funding for each of these
projects were required by the U.S Government to submit quarterly
reports which include their estimates of the total labor hours spent
P.E.T. Edwards et al. / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 65–71 67
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on the restoration activity ( The official guidance
indicated that, a full-time schedule for one employee for a quarter is
520 h (2080 h in a work year divided by 4 quarters in a year). For
ARRA reporting, recipients were required to use 520 h to calculate
FTE. This was calculated by first converting hours worked to number
of FTE employees for the first quarterly report. Following this, all
hours worked in the quarter were totaled and divided by the
number of hours (520 h) in a full-time schedule. For some projects,
recipients converted the labor hours to FTE as described above. In
other instances the actual numbers of individuals employed for the
period was reported (not an FTE calculation).
The data presented in this paper do not include these recipient
reported employment figures. This is for two reasons. First,
IMPLAN estimates are the standard approach of calculating
employment impacts. Thus, the results of this IMPLAN analysis
can be compared to employment estimates from other industries
and sectors because a similar approach was used. Second, reci-
pients of the funds lacked the ability to accurately track all of the
activities related to the restoration expenditures. Recipient
reported numbers only included labor hours for those directly
implementing the project; these numbers did not include the
hours generated via contracted labor or others working on the
project producing or delivering materials or providing other
services because they had no way to estimate these additional
economic impacts. IMPLAN estimated jobs figures include direct,
indirect and induced jobs which are combined to give total jobs
and this figure will always be higher than the recipient reported
direct jobs. Thus, the results presented here are based on the
IMPLAN analysis and not on the recipient reported hours.
Results and discussion
Types of habitat restoration and associated categories of jobs created
NOAA’s Recovery Act restoration efforts are spread over 22 states
and two territories. Projects are located all across U.S. coastal systems
including the Great Lakes (Fig.1) and represent a variety of restoration
project types (Table 1). The goal of these projects was to provide
employment for Americans in areas with some of the highest rates of
unemployment in the United States (such as California, Oregon, and
Michigan) [11] while also accomplishing essential ecological objec-
tives. In to tal, these projec ts will have restored more t han 8700 acres
of habitat and removed obsol ete and unsafe dams to open more than
700 stream miles where fish migrate and spawn. The projects also
will have removed more than 850 metric tons of marine debris,
rebuilt oyster and other shellfish habitat and protected 11,750 acres
of upland watershed areas in order to reduce sediment and non-point
source pollution threats to coral reefs.
As demonstrated by the examples in Table 1, the technological
approaches used in coastal habitat restoration require the
employment of persons with diverse sets of skills. For example,
marine debris removal requires, among other job types, boat
operators and heavy equipment managers, while oyster reef
restoration may require divers, barge operators, fishermen and
scientists in addition to the aforementioned.
Based on the analysis of cumulative habitat restoration expen-
ditures for 44 ARRA habitat restoration projects, IMPLAN esti-
mates show that 951 direct jobs were created, while 1409 total
jobs were created. This was based on $89 million in expenditures
(year ending December 31 2010). This study examines and
compares the number of jobs per million by restoration project
type (oyster, fish passage etc.) in the following section.
Number of jobs created per million dollars spent
The jobs figures quoted in this paper are based on the analysis
of cumulative expenditures from February 2009–December 2010.
As shown in Fig. 2 the number of direct, indirect and induced jobs
created can vary greatly by the type of project. This is largely due
to the technological approach for each restoration project type,
but can also be attributed to regional economic differences (not
examined in this paper). The ratio of number of total jobs to
dollars (of restoration expenditure) ranges from 15 to 33 jobs per
one million dollars ($1 M), depending on the type of activity with
most projects averaging approximately 17 jobs/$1 M. There was a
Fig. 1. Number of ARRA habitat restoration projects per state or territory.
P.E.T. Edwards et al. / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 65–7168
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clear difference between one project type with the highest job
creation and the rest (Fig. 2). Notably the highest levels of job
creation were observed for projects that were extremely labor
intensive but tended to require less skilled labor; this was the
case for exotic algal species removal projects in Hawaii. If
compared to hydrologic reconnection projects, which tend to rely
on engineering techniques and can even involve specialty equip-
ment such as helicopters, the jobs per million ratios are under-
standably lower. However, this analysis demonstrates that across
a variety of blue infrastructure rehabilitation (coastal habitat
restoration) projects, the ratio of jobs to dollars spent for the
majority of projects falls within a range from 15 to 19 jobs per
$1 M of expenditure [20,21]. This suggests that similar numbers
of jobs to expenditure ratios are expected for a range of coastal
restoration project types.
In addition to the estimated jobs per million per restoration
project type, this study also compares the type of restoration activity
and the average amount of expenditure. This gives a very rudimen-
tary ‘‘bang for your buck’’ comparison across restoration types. Fig. 2
compares the average amount of cumulative expenditures on these
projects ending December 2010. Oyster reef restoration projects
(4) had the highest average costs over the period while riparian
restoration projects showed the lowest costs for restoration expen-
ditures. These differences in expenditures may be due to a number
of reasons. For example, there could be inherent differences in costs
based on the type of restoration method. For example, manual
removal of algal invasive species would have different costs when
compared to oyster reef restoration that requires the use of barges,
heavy machinery, boats among other equipment and skilled per-
sonnel. Another potential reason is that there may have been
differences in the level of spending up to December 31 (not all
projects were fully completed). The conclusion here is that not all
coastal restoration projects are created equal. There will be differ-
ences in cost as well as employment impacts.
Comparison of blue infrastructure rehabilitation to other industries
Using an income and employment multiplier approach, the
analysis shows that based on the level of expenditure up to
December 31, 2010, the ARRA coastal restoration projects were
shown to have created 951 direct jobs or a total of 1409 (direct
indirect and induced) jobs were created. The impact analysis also
showed that an additional 60 cents is generated in the local
economy (1.60 income multiplier) for every federal (NOAA) dollar
invested in these projects.
Given all of this, one might ask the question, What do these
numbers mean in a broader context? It is expected that govern-
ment expenditures will create jobs, so how does spending on
coastal habitat restoration compare to spending in other indus-
tries terms of rates of job creation? It is also important to consider
what kinds of jobs are created and whether there was a need in
the particular sector. Table 2 below is adapted from a previous
study [15] and compares estimates of jobs created per million
dollars of expenditure across various types of industries.
Based on the results in Table 2, reforestation, land and
watershed restoration, and sustainable forest management have
the highest estimates for jobs created per million dollars invested
(39.7) while oil and gas and nuclear industries show the lowest
rates of 5.2 and 4.2 jobs per million dollars spending, respectively.
The conservation industry (parks and land water conservation
fund) is shown to have an estimated rate of 20 jobs per million
dollars. This study shows that the estimated rate of employment
for habitat restoration projects based on the ARRA expenditures is
on average 17 jobs per million invested (Table 1). These results
suggest that coastal habitat restoration projects compare favor-
ably to renewable (or green) industries and far out perform
traditional industries such as coal, oil and gas, nuclear and
financial industries.
It is important to note that habitat restoration projects typically
have specific timelines, much like any infrastructure or construction
project, for example building oil pipelines or bridges and roads, so
many of these habitat restoration jobs are not ‘‘permanent;’’ they do
not last indefinitely. However, investing in habitat restoration
provides more permanent future jobs in rebuilt sustainable fisheries
and coastal tourism and may yield long-lasting benefits to local
economies, such as higher propert y values and better water quality.
This is discussed further in Section 3.1.6 below.
Blue infrastructure jobs are in fact green
Since taking office, the Obama Administration has repeatedly
stated that there is a need for growth in green jobs to secure our
nation’s economic and environmental future as exemplified by
this quote from Vice President Biden in an Op-Ed article in 2009,
Table 1
Habitat restoration green job categories and employment rates per million dollars.
Restoration effort type (number of ARRA projects) Range of restoration job types Average number of
jobs/Million US$
Marine debris removal (3) Cleanup crew (laborers), small boat operators, administrative staff,
marine salvors, welders, heavy equipment managers, lawyers,
Fish Passage/Dam Removal (15) Environmental consultants, engineers, construction workers,
landscapers, lawyers, scientists, administrative positions
Improving access for migratory fish species such as salmon and
reducing hazards
Hydrologic reconnection (15) Geologists, engineers, landscapers, heavy equipment operators,
construction workers, helicopter pilots, biotechnologist, project
Restoring the flow of water to coastal systems and floodplains
Invasive species removal (2) Pilots, construction workers, feral goat hunters, landscapers,
administrative positions
Removal of coral reef smothering invasive algal species
Oyster reef restoration (5) Barge, tug operators and loading crews, fishermen, scientists,
technicians, biologists, divers, mining and quarry workers, truck
drivers, project managers, outreach specialists, administrative
Construction of reef of using shell and rock. Stabilizes the shoreline
and promote oyster colonization
Riparian restoration/living shorelines (4) Construction workers (including site foreman, surveyor, survey
assistants, equipment operators, laborers, and dump truck drivers),
Nursery workers, project manager, environmental consultants,
archeological consultant, Graphic designer, administrative positions
Restoring the habitat function in the areas between land rivers and
All restoration types Average jobs per million$ 17.0
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‘‘When you’re creating green jobs, you’re doing well by doing good ’’
[22]. However the term green jobs is often assumed to only refer
to clean technologies, energy conservation and related to indus-
tries such as solar or wind energy supply, and green building
construction. This interpretation of green jobs is more limiting
than the definition given by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
BLS defines green jobs as (1) ‘‘Jobs in businesses that produce
goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve
natural resources; or (2) Jobs in which workers’ duties involve
making their establishment’s production processes more environ-
mentally friendly or use fewer natural resources’’ [23]. Based on this
broader definition of green jobs, the wide variety of direct, indirect
and induced jobs (Table 1) created from NOAA’s ARRA habitat
restoration projects include jobs that benefitted the environment
and conserved natural resources and therefore should be considered
green jobs. This suggests that the jobs created from blue infrastruc-
ture rehabilitation projects should become part of the national
discourse on green jobs. In particular there is a need to recognize
the fact that in addition to the clean energy sector, there are many
jobs that support environmental conservation and sustainable
development in other sectors or industries.
Long-term benefits of ‘‘blue infrastructure’’ restoration
It is important to recognize that these created jobs are the
result of a short term economic stimulus effort. However, in
Marine Debris
Fish Passage/Dam
Invasive Species
Oyster Reef
Average Cost of Project US$
Estimated Jobs Per Million US$
Restoration Types
Direct Jobs/$Million Total Jobs/$Million Average Project Cost
Fig. 2. Average jobs generated per million expenditure and average project cost per restoration type.
Table 2
Comparison of job creation per $1 Million investment for various industries.
Source: Heidi Garrett-Peltier and Robert Pollin, University of Massachusetts Political Economy and Research Institute [15].
Industry Direct Indirect Induced Total
Reforestation, land and watershed restoration and sustainable forest management 17.65 12.95 9.2 39.7
Crop agriculture 9.8 6.5 6.5 22.8
Livestock 6.4 9.1 6.2 21.7
Gas (heavy and civil constructions for pipelines50% new and 50% repair) 12.05 3.93 5.912 21.888
Mass transit and freight rail construction 13 3.70 5.038 21.738
Roads and bridges: repair 11.1 3.69 5.527 20.317
Conservation (parks land and water conservation fund) 11.45 4.15 4.7 20.3
Water infrastructure 9.96 4.38 5.427 19.764
Aviation 9.7 4.30 5.264 19.266
School buildings 8.65 5.38 5.233 19.262
Building retrofits 7.7 4.7 4.96 17.36
Roads and bridges: new 8.7 3.94 4.834 14.474
Solar 5.4 4.40 3.92 13.72
Biomass 7.4 5.00 4.96 17.36
Smart grid 4.3 4.6 3.56 12.46
Wind 4.6 4.90 3.8 13.3
Electricity generation, transmission, distribution 5.32 4.50 4.696 14.512
Coal 1.9 3.00 1.96 6.86
Oil and gas 0.8 2.90 1.48 5.18
Nuclear 1.2 1.80 1.2 4.2
Financial industry 3.22 2.34 1.668 7.228
Note: Multipliers derived using IMPLAN 2.0 with 2007 data. Infrastructure multipliers and assumptions are presented in ‘‘How infrastructure Investments Support the US
Economy: Employment, Productivity and Growth’’, Political Economy Research Institute, January 2009.
P.E.T. Edwards et al. / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 65–7170
Author's personal copy
addition to the short term impacts from restoration project
spending, there are expected longer term economic impacts of
blue infrastructure rehabilitation that we cannot address with our
current data. For example, areas that have been restored are likely
to experience increased levels of sales and services in recreational
and commercial fishing as well as coastal tourism sectors, leading
to broader, longer term economic stimulus [12,24].
Given that the expenditure data provided by the recipients is
the basis for this analysis, this means that the impact analysis
does not explore the additional, longer-term benefits of restored
ecosystem services such as storm and erosion protection, carbon
sequestration and greenhouse gas capture as well as other non-
market economic benefits derived from coastal habitat improve-
ments. There are however, a number of studies conducted on the
potential benefits of shoreline restoration in the Great Lakes.
Those studies, based on one of the ARRA funded projects,
demonstrated that restoring Muskegon Lake, on the east shore
of Lake Michigan, will generate more than $66 million in eco-
nomic benefits for its $10 million investment, including: a $12
million increase in property values [25], up to $600,000 in new
tax revenues annually and over $1 million in new recreational
spending annually [26]. Like the Michigan study, there are
similar economic studies underway on other projects that will
also investigate long term ecosystem service and economic
benefits of ARRA habitat restoration which will enable better
quantification of the long-term economic impacts of habitat
Thus, blue infrastructure rehabilitation has the potential to
contribute not only to short-term economic goals such as job
creation, but can also provide long term economic gains while
simultaneously restoring essential ecological functions and ser-
vices. Investing in habitat restoration provides longer-term future
jobs as well. These include jobs that result from rebuilt sustain-
able fisheries and coastal tourism as well as long-lasting benefits
to local economies, such as higher property values and better
water quality.
This study determined that habitat restoration projects gen-
erate, on average, 17 jobs per million dollars spent which is
similar to other conservation industry job impacts and is much
higher than other industries, such as coal and gas. This suggests
that investing in coastal habitat restoration provides needed
short-term economic stimulus via job creation. These rates of
employment creation per million dollars of expenditure compare
favorably with other industries.
Although the long-term economic benefits of habitat restora-
tion were not a focus of this study, other studies suggest
that investing in habitat restoration also leads to future job
creation in rebuilt fisheries and coastal tourism, as well as other
long-term benefits to coastal economies including higher prop-
erty values and better water quality. Therefore, investing in
restoring ‘‘blue infrastructure,’’ the important coastal and marine
habitats that support coastal economies, is not only a way to
generate green jobs and stimulate the economy in the near-term,
but also provides lasting benefits to coastal communities and
We thank the staff of the NOAA Restoration Center for help
with data and M. Onzay for help with Fig. 1. The views expressed
here do not reflect the official position of the National Oceanic
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or the Department of
Commerce (DOC).
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[11] Office of Habitat Conservation National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminis-
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[12] Steinback SR. Regional economic impact assessments of recreational fish-
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[13] Mulkey D, Hodges AW. Using IMPLAN to Assess Local Economic Impacts.
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[25] Great Lakes Commission. Muskegon Lake Habitat Restoration Project.
[26] Isley P, Sterrett-Isely E, Hause C. Muskegon Lake Area of Concern Habitat
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P.E.T. Edwards et al. / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 65–71 71
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Globally, ecological restoration activities are increasing in response to environmental, economic, and cultural trends that value ecological capital for the services provided by healthy functioning ecosystems. To ensure continued investment in ecological restoration, practitioners and researchers need to identify links to the benefits accrued to society from ecological restoration practice and policy. Nonetheless, a recent review of published literature on ecological restoration concludes that the policy and socioeconomic contributions of ecological restoration are often ignored. To help fill this gap, we describe the policy context of a sustained program of forest and watershed restoration in Oregon, U.S.A. and report on three related studies on the market structure and resulting economic impacts of this program of work in Oregon. The first study examines the experiences of watershed councils (n = 52) in mobilizing human resources for ecological restoration. The second focuses on the businesses and firms (n = 190) that participate in Oregon's restoration economy. The third analyzes the employment and economic impacts from a sample of Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board restoration grants (n = 99). We found that the sustained program of restoration work in Oregon has conferred significant benefits to Oregon's economy. These impacts largely accrue to rural areas in need of economic development opportunities due to declines in traditional resource management activities. In addition to approximately 16 jobs supported per million dollars invested in ecological restoration, a sustained investment in restoration has created both new local organizational capacity in watershed councils and other community‐based partners and business opportunities especially in rural Oregon.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations.
Gulf of Mexico (GOM) coastal wetlands contribute to human well-being by providing many ecosystem services. The GOM region continues to experience substantial losses of coastal wetlands, but the magnitude of reduction in ecosystem services resulting from the loss of GOM coastal wetlands is unknown. To gain an appreciation of the impact of GOM coastal wetland loss on ecosystem services, recent literature was reviewed to derive quantitative estimates of ecosystem services provided by GOM coastal wetlands. GOM coastal wetlands provide essential habitat for the production of juvenile shrimp, which supports the GOM’s most valuable commercial fishery; protect coastal communities from storm surge; improve water quality by removing nitrogen from surface waters; and are valuable sinks for greenhouse gases due to high rates of carbon sequestration combined with low rates of methane emission. Using 1998 to 2004 as a baseline, the potential loss of ecosystem services associated with loss of coastal wetlands is presented. Additional research is needed to quantify wetland services at multiple geospatial and socioeconomic scales, to determine the effect of wetland loss on ecosystem services, and to demonstrate the impact of future management decisions on the capacity of GOM coastal wetlands to provide services that affect human well-being. KeywordsCarbon sequestration–Nitrogen removal–Shrimp fishery–Storm surge protection
Ecological restoration is still perceived by many conservationists, and the majority of economists, as a diversion, a delusion, and – far worse – a waste of money. In this paper we point out that restoration is in fact complementary not only to nature conservation but also to sustainable, equitable socio-economic development. This is because restoring and augmenting the natural capital base generates jobs and improves livelihoods and the quality of life of all in the economy.In developing countries, where most biodiversity hotspots occur, both conservation of nature and the restoration of degraded ecosystems will find local support only if they are clearly linked to socio-economic development. Conversely, sound socio-economic development in the environmentally damaged portions of those countries undoubtedly will require ecological restoration of the natural capital base. Nature conservation, ecological restoration, and sustainable economic development policies should therefore be planned, budgeted and executed conjointly.