Restoration Economy

For at least half a decade, legislative support for environmental protections at the state level has been shaky. This wavering support, at least partially, is based on the belief that these protections stifle job growth and development.  A study by UNC’s Todd BenDor highlighted in an article in the Ecosystem Marketplace, however, rejects this argument and demonstrates how the restoration industry has been an important part of North Carolina’s and the national economy.

According to Bendor, ecological restoration employed more people than coal mining, logging and the iron and steel industry.   As the article states:

Those jobs are part of a $25 billion “restoration economy” that directly employs 126,000 people and supports 95,000 other jobs – mostly in small businesses.

Source: BenDor et. al. 2015.

These jobs go to engineers, the construction industry, plant suppliers, biologists, and foresters.  These professionals, in turn, identify former wetlands and degraded streams-typically lower productive farmlands, develop restoration plans, implement those plans and monitor their results.  What’s more, North Carolina has one of the leading restoration industries based on market-oriented policies implemented during the 1990’s and 2000’s.

These market approaches, however, are founded on government policies that seem to be falling out of favor. Given that they are an important employer on both the state and national level and one that brings jobs and money to rural areas, the restoration economy is one that should be supported as a contributor to providing balanced growth.

BenDor T, Lester TW, Livengood A, Davis A, Yonavjak L (2015) Estimating the Size and Impact of the Ecological Restoration Economy. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0128339. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0128339

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