Study Finds Estuaries are Increasingly Essential Natural Infrastructure

Restore America’s Estuaries releases updated economic valuation of estuaries, including blue carbon

Rob Shane, Communications Manager                                                                                                                                                           
Restore America’s Estuaries
rshane@estuaries.org| 614.371.3270
For immediate Release:

Arlington, VA: As sea level rise effects more American communities, the role of estuaries to protect property and sequester carbon is more important than ever. As a follow up to the 2008 report, Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) released a timely update to its Economic Value of Estuaries report, assigning a dollar amount to the role coastal wetlands play as natural infrastructure in protecting coastal communities, industries, and infrastructure. Additionally, the report highlights estuaries as blue carbon ecosystems that play a role in sequestering carbon to mitigate climate change. As wetland loss continues due to development and as climate change increasingly threatens coastal communities with more intense and regular storms, this report aims to provide an understanding of the value of estuary regions and the critical need to invest in natural infrastructure.

You can download the full report at http://www.estuaries.org/economics. Additionally, RAE President and CEO, Daniel Hayden, will host a virtual announcement on November 3rd at 1:00 PM ET celebrating the release featuring Carrie Selberg Robinson, Director, NOAA Office of Habitat Conservation – NOAA Fisheries, who provided funding for the report and Tracy Rouleau, President of TBD Economics, who wrote the report on RAE’s behalf. Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_CLxan8xVSJKHCbjh51zcOw.

“Protecting and restoring estuaries and coasts has never been more important” said Daniel Hayden, President and CEO of Restore America’s Estuaries. “Coastal communities, military installations, international ports, and commercial fishing, to name a few, all rely on in-tact and healthy estuaries to act as the first line of defense against coastal storms and flooding.”

While estuaries comprise only 4% of continental US land, over 40% of Americans reside in coastal regions, including eight of the ten largest metropolitan areas. Additionally, 47% of the U.S. GDP comes from estuary regions, emphasizing the importance of quantifying coastal resilience in the face of 21st century challenges. Sectors directly connected to the oceans and Great Lakes provided 3.1 million jobs and contributed $301.9 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018. Much of this employment requires healthy ecosystems to continue to foster recreation and tourism.

A key update since the 2008 report is the valuation of natural infrastructure to protect property and blue carbon ecosystems to sequester carbon as an ecosystem service in addition to the monetary value they provide regions in terms of GDP and employment. The report includes region-specific case studies examining the importance of natural infrastructure in the local economies listed below:

  • Great Egg Harbor, NJ; Pamlico Sound, NC; Tampa Bay, FL; Terrebonne Basin, LA; San Pablo Bay, CA; Snohomish Estuary, WA

Restore America’s Estuaries is dedicated to the protection and restoration of bays and estuaries as essential resources for our nation.