If we want a healthy economy, we need a healthy ecosystem.
That’s probably the most important takeaway of a new report from the Center for American Progress and Oxfam America that analyzed the benefits of conserving, repairing and restoring our coastal ecosystems.
As Think Progress reports, the authors of the report studied three separate coastal restoration projects that were funded by stimulus grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2009. They found that for every dollar invested, there was more than $15 in net economic benefits.
How so? Coastal restoration gave way to more money for local economies, from boosts in tourism and commerce to protection against natural disasters such as storm surges. It also improved fish stocks and benefited oyster reefs, which play a big part in keeping waters clean.
Significantly, these coastal restoration projects also created a lot of jobs. According to the report, every $1 million investment in coastal restoration created 17 jobs on average. In comparison, that same investment in offshore oil and gas development only brings 8.9 jobs.
The argument for coastal restoration comes down to simple math, really. “We learned in a nutshell that there’s a win-win, if not a win-win-win, opportunity that presents itself when you invest in conservation,” said Mark Schaefer, the assistant secretary of commerce for conservation and management at NOAA. “We gain big when we conserve and restore coastal habitats — this is a no-brainer.”
Looks like the business of saving the environment is good business for us all.