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Coastal Economies—Impacts of Habitat Conservation

What is the relationship between habitat conservation and our economy? We can directly associate economic impacts—a measure of the effects of actual expenditures—with protecting and restoring habitats. These impacts are primarily due to expenditures associated with conservation and are expressed as jobs, salaries, and taxes, which benefit local communities.

Statistical analysis of this data can provide estimates of sales and employment effects and the impact of those factors on local businesses and the community. Unlike ecosystem service valuation, economic impacts do not measure benefits to resource users such as kayakers or birdwatchers. Instead, it tracks the impacts on local suppliers, merchants, and residents.

Consider this example. Commercial and recreational fishing activities generate $163 billion in sales in the United States and nearly 1.9 million jobs. Healthy habitat is essential for fish to reproduce and grow. Thus, restoring habitats has a positive impact on the economy. For example, improved fish catch can result in increased sales, or an increase in recreational fishing activity can result in increased sales of bait and tackle.

Our Method

We used a widely accepted economic input/output software called IMPLAN to estimate overall jobs and economic impacts. The software uses the amount of expenditures in different labor categories and, based on the estimates, the number of jobs created and the economic impact. The jobs are broken down into direct jobs, indirect jobs, and induced jobs. Based on the analysis of cumulative habitat restoration expenditures (year ending December 31 2010):

  • 951 direct jobs were created, while 1,409 total jobs were created 
  • An additional 60 cents is generated in the local economy for every NOAA dollar invested
Learn more about habitat conservation jobs.