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    A Drain On The Economy? Ecological Restoration Is A $9.5 Billion Industry

    Thank those spotted owls. Rather than hurt jobs, cleaning up the environment actually employs more workers than industries such as logging or mining.


    Thank those spotted owls. Rather than hurt jobs, cleaning up the environment actually employs more workers than industries such as logging or mining.

    Think about about all the contaminated sites around the country—the old factories, polluted waterways, disfigured wildernesses. Now think about all the money that must go into fixing these places—what public agencies, foundations and corporations must pay every year in clean-up costs. It adds up to a lot.

    In fact, the "restoration economy" is worth as much as $9.5 billion a year, according to a new estimate by Todd BenDor, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina, and four co-researchers.  "The public debate over restoration usually focuses on how many jobs are killed when environmental regulation requires restoration," says BenDor in an email.

    "We wanted to know how much economic impact restoration is having. Restoration is an essential part of the green economy, but it's really hard to measure since it's hard to even tell who is doing the work."

    Using a series of public databases, the researchers identified companies and organizations doing conservation work, then they surveyed a representative sample. About half the work is done by either companies in "Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services ($3.5 billion) or "Support Activities for Crop Production" ($2.2 billion). In total, these groups employ 126,100 people—more than those working in steel mills, mining, or logging.

    The paper is published in the science journal PLoS One.

    It follows another from May, where the authors estimated restoration produces 33 jobs for every $1 million directly invested, not to mention numerous related jobs. That estimate is based on an analysis of federal and state programs.  The larger point is that we shouldn't think of restoration as something unproductive. Yes, roping off an area to development reduces its value. But, at the same time, restoration also creates some value.

    "This is an emerging sector of our economy and involves everything from plant nurseries to earth moving to lawyers to architects," BenDor says. "Restoration could be considered the greenest part of our economy, and should be accounted for [as economic activity]."


    Original article link:

    Written by Ben Schiller
    Ben Schiller is a New York-based staff writer for Co.Exist, and also contributes to the FT and Yale e360.
    [Photo: USFS Region 5 on Flickr]


    Estimating the Size and Impact of the Ecological Restoration Economy

      Todd BenDor, T. William Lester, Avery Livengood, Adam Davis, Logan Yonavja

      Domestic public debate continues over the economic impacts of environmental regulations that require environmental restoration. This debate has occurred in the absence of broad-scale empirical research on economic output and employment resulting from environmental restoration, restoration-related conservation, and mitigation actions — the activities that are part of what we term the “restoration economy.”

      In this article, we provide a high-level accounting of the size and scope of the restoration economy in terms of employment, value added, and overall economic output on a national scale. We conducted a national survey of businesses that participate in restoration work in order to estimate the total sales and number of jobs directly associated with the restoration economy, and to provide a profile of this nascent sector in terms of type of restoration work, industrial classification, workforce needs, and growth potential. We use survey results as inputs into a national input-output model (IMPLAN 3.1) in order to estimate the indirect and induced economic impacts of restoration activities. Based on this analysis we conclude that the domestic ecological restoration sector directly employs ~ 126,000 workers and generates ~ $9.5 billion in economic output (sales) annually. This activity supports an additional 95,000 jobs and $15 billion in economic output through indirect (business-to-business) linkages and increased household spending.



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