Earth Economics works to identify and focus on research topics that inform good investment in communities and result in measureable on-the ground impact.  Our research is independent, non-partisan and goes through peer review processes that respect a wide diversity of approaches and disciplines.  We routinely publish our work in legal, economic and scientific journals.  The documents below provide a sample of our latest papers in PDF format.


Recent Publications

Click On a Thumbnail to Jump to a Report!
  • Title:
    Funding Mechanisms for Restoring and Maintaining a Healthy Nisqually Watershed
    Year:
    2014
    Lead:
    Abstract:
    This report identifies several funding mechanisms that generate revenue of approximately $3 million. These resources are needed, in addition to existing sources of funding, to fully implement watershed maintenance and natural asset improvement projects to meet restoration goals of the Nisqually Watershed Recovery Program by 2055.
     
  • Title:
    Evaluación Económico-Ecológica de los Impactos Ambientales en la Cuenca del Bajo Anchicayá por Vertimiento de Lodos de la Central Hidroeléctrica Anchicayá
    Year:
    2014
    Abstract:
    This report entails a technical valuation of the damages associated with the dumping of accumulated dam sediments in the Anchicaya River (on the Pacific Coast of Colombia). This unplanned discharge of more than 500,000 cubic meters of sludge happened on July 21st 2001 and resulted in a shock to vulnerable ecosystems, and severe damage to fish and shellfish. In addition, there was a scarcity of potable water, crop damage, and harm to riverine and coastal mangroves. Using the best available science and the most appropriate valuation methods, Earth Economics with Fundacion Neotropica, conducted an assessment and economic valuation of the damages. The valuation emphasized ecosystem connectivity, market, and non-market environmental impacts.
     
  • Title:
    Using Model Integration to Create Baseline Carbon Budgets in the Snohomish River Basin
    Year:
    2014
    Abstract:
    This report presents a framework for scientists, academic institutions, and land stewards to integrate existing biophysical models within a single modeling platform, allowing for model interactions and more robust systemic outputs from all models. This enables more fully informed, and better decisions concerning land use planning, salmon restoration, storm water projects, forestry practices, flood risk reduction and other areas. The Multi-scale Integrated Models of Ecosystem Services (MIMES) demonstrates in this study how current demographic and ecological trends place immense pressure on the natural environment further threatened by climate change creating significant economic implications. MIMES is the first platform used to integrate existing local, national, and global models to systemically answer questions related to sea-level rise, flood risk, and restoration needs.
     
  • Title:
    Nature's Value in Clallam County: Policy Implications of the Economic Benefits of Feeder Bluffs and 12 Other Ecosystems
    Year:
    2013
    Lead:
    Abstract:
    This report provides the first comprehensive economic assessment of Clallam County’s natural landscapes. Comprised of two separate valuations: a ‘primary’ valuation of feeder bluff ecosystems. Using biophysical data, the economic value of sediment provided by coastal cliffs to beaches down current was calculated. The term feeder bluff is applied particularly to headlands and bluffs of the Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. And a ‘benefit transfer’ economic valuation of ecosystem services found across all Clallam County’s land covers. The results of this study can be used to inform the county’s Shoreline Master Program update currently underway, and will enable stakeholders to better understand the economic importance of land use policies such as No Net Loss, setbacks, and other requirements along the shoreline and within other critical areas throughout Clallam County.
  • Title:
    Factsheet: Nature's Value in Clallam County: Policy Implications of the Economics Benefits of Feeder Bluffs and 12 Other Ecosystems
    Year:
    2013
    Abstract:
    This one page fact sheet serves as a quick overview of the extended report: Policy Implications of the Economics Benefits of Feeder Bluffs and 12 Other Ecosystems. The fact sheet highlights the major findings in the report: countywide values of ecosystem services produced by different land cover types and primary valuations of specific nearshore ecosystems, such as feeder bluffs. Given the need and interest to conserve the shoreline, a short list of recommendations offer initial solutions in best land management practices and other important policy implications.
  • Title:
    The Economic Impact of the 2013 Rim Fire on Natural Lands
    Year:
    2013
    Lead:
    Abstract:
    This rapid assessment provides an economic valuation and analysis of the damage caused by the 2013 Rim Fire (in California) to the environmental benefits within the burn area. In the first year after the Rim Fire, environmental benefit losses are estimated to range from $100 million to $736 million.
  • Title:
    The Natural Economy of Alaska’s Matanuska-Susitna Basin
    Year:
    2013
    Lead:
    Abstract:
    This study presents an economic characterization of the value of ecosystem services in the Matanuska-Susitna Basin (Mat-Su), which is a 24,300 square mile area located north of Anchorage, Alaska within the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Mat-Su ecosystems provide a suite of ecosystem services including abundant fishing and hunting, drinking water, flood control, and world-renowned recreational opportunities. This study looks at the economic value provided by these ecosystems. We used benefit transfer methodology frequently applied by agencies worldwide in their decision making on natural resources. The method is similar to a house or business appraisal in that it relies on available information from studies already completed from another location and/or context. Besides conducting this literature review, we used Geographic
    Information Systems data to identify and estimate the value of ecosystem services in the Mat-Su. This assessment informs regional planners and governments in their decisions affecting local and regional economies and quality of life for residents.
  • Title:
    A Handbook for Understanding Natural Capital
    Year:
    2013
    Abstract:
    A fully illustrated guide and accessible handbook for understanding Nature’s Economic Value. This handbook was written for watershed managers, foresters, farmers, planners, landscape architects, water utilities and anyone interested in their community’s natural resources. Large quantities of printed handbooks for educational purposes can be purchased through Earth Economics by emailing info@eartheconomics.org. We welcome stories of how you used this publication and any feedback you have can be sent to info@eartheconomics.org.
  • Title:
    FEMA Environmental Benefits Mitigation Policy FP-108-024-01
    Year:
    2013
    Lead:
     
    Abstract:
    The purpose of this policy is to identify and quantify the types of environmental benefits FEMA will consider in the BCA for acquisition projects.
  • Title:
    Return on Investment Analysis of Flood Risk Management Solutions for Pierce County
    Year:
    2013
    Lead:
    Abstract:
    This report focuses on three regulations in particular: Channel Migration Zones, Deep and/or Fast Flowing Floodways, and Compensatory Storage. Three case studies examining flood-prone locations in the Puyallup Watershed are used to demonstrate the value of the regulations that facilitate good floodplain management.
  • Title:
    Communicating and Investing in Natural Capital using Water Rates
    Year:
    2012
    Abstract:
    Water utilities depend on natural capital like watersheds, forests and river systems as a vital component of their drinking water infrastructure. As the primary source of revenue for water utilities, water rates have traditionally included a single base rate and/or user charges such as consumption charges.
    To better communicate the value and magnitude of investments in their natural capital assets to ratepayers and other stakeholders, several utilities have begun to include natural capital surcharges in their rates structures. Variously called "Watershed Rates" or "Watershed Protection Fee," the following examples show that natural capital surcharges provides utilities with a useful communication and investment tool.
  • Title:
    Valuing the Aquatic Benefits of British Columbia’s Lower Mainland Nearshore: Natural Capital Valuation
    Year:
    2012
    Lead:
    Abstract:
    This report adopts an explicitly economic perspective on the links between economic development, natural resources and ecosystem services. This implies a focus on the value of functioning ecosystems topeople, contrary to the intrinsic value of nature in its own right. This is not to suggest that nature’s intrinsic biological, aesthetic, cultural, and evolutionary merits do not hold substantial and significant value. Such values are relevant and should be factored into decision-making.
    An economic approach further implies that incentives matter. That is to say, that price signals, subsidies, taxes and property rights influence human behaviour and the use of natural capital. The lack of market incentives and public policy to indicate the full value of ecosystem services is a key contributor to the continued loss of natural resources and their associated ecosystem services. Although economic valuation cannot capture a comprehensive picture of nature’s value, it is an important tool that can help decision-makers improve their ability to account for, conserve and secure nature and related ecosystem services.
  • Title:
    Valuing Nature’s Benefits: An Ecological Economic Assessment of Iowa’s Middle Cedar Watershed
    Year:
    2012
    Lead:
    Abstract:
    The purpose of this study is to support the IowaCedar Watershed Interagency Coordination Team. This multidisciplinary team was created in the wake of the 2008 flooding and consists of representatives from federal, state, and local governments, nonprofit organizations and universities committed to supporting local watershed activities to create a sustainable Iowa-Cedar Basin. Earth Economics, as a member of this team, was engaged to value the Middle Cedar Watershed’s natural systems. In turn, our report serves as a case study to support future flood-risk management in the basin.
  • Title:
    The Natural Value of Thurston County: A Rapid Ecosystem Service Valuation
    Year:
    2012
    Abstract:
    Thurston County is home to Washington State’s capitol city Olympia, situated directly along the southern most part of Puget Sound. The County encompasses 737 square miles of diverse landscape of coastal lowlands, prairie flatlands and foothills of the Cascade mountain range. With an array of land cover types,Thurston County’s landscapes deliver many different ecosystem goods and services. The value of ecosystem services in Thurston County represents a social, environmental and economic benefit to the County’s residents. Defining and quantifying the County’s natural capital is an important and helpful tool to inform public policy, including local land use planning, and those efforts which must incorporate statemandated goals and standards that involve protection and enhancement of water quality and important natural resources, and other quality of life factors. Such efforts enhance management and conservation goals that will ultimately lead to the protection of ecosystems across the county, therefore creating a strong local economy and high quality of life for residents.
  • Title:
    Factsheet: 2010 Puget Sound Restoration and Protection
    Year:
    2012
    Lead:
     
    Abstract:
     
  • Title:
    Factsheet: 2011 Puget Sound Restoration and Protection
    Year:
    2012
    Lead:
     
    Abstract:
     
  • Title:
    Nature’s Value in the McKenzie Watershed: A Rapid Ecosystem Service Valuation
    Year:
    2012
    Abstract:
    This study presents an ecological economic characterization of the McKenzie Watershed, located on the western slope of the Cascade Mountains in the state of Oregon, USA. The McKenzie River is a source of drinking water for over 200,000 people, and also a source of hydroelectric power. The watershed also provides a suite of additional ecosystem services including biodiversity, flood control, and world renowned recreational opportunities. This study introduces the economic value provided by these watershed-based ecosystems. Using benefit transfer methodology (similar to a house or business appraisal) and geographic information systems data, the ecosystem services of the McKenzie Watershed are identified and valued. Based on the results of this study, recommendations are provided. Identifying and valuing nature’s contribution to the economy can inform decisions that improve local and regional economies and quality of life for residents.
  • Title:
    Ecological Economic Rapid Valuation of the environmental impacts related to land use changes on Industrias Infinito property after resolution 244-2008-SCH of the Conservation Area of Arenal Huetar Norte
    Year:
    2012
    Lead:
    Abstract:
     
  • Title:
    Rapid Assessment of the Economic Value of Wisconsin’s Wetlands
    Year:
    2012
    Abstract:
    Economic sustainability and resiliency both rely upon environmental sustainability and resiliency. The loss of natural infrastructure has real economic costs. Safeguarding the health of a wetland area, like keeping a house in good condition, provides value for everyone who utilizes or benefits from it, directly or indirectly. Unlike houses, levees, roads and other man-made infrastructure, wetlands are largely self-maintaining. Wetlands provide valuable goods and services across vast spans of time, and even well beyond their boundaries. Protecting and restoring Wisconsin’s wetlands is critical to improving quality of life and to securing sustainability, public health and safety, and economic progress in the region.
  • Title:
    Economic Impact of Metro Parks Tacoma Ecosystem Services: Economic Impact Study Phase II
    Year:
    2012
    Abstract:
    The purpose of this study is to illuminate the importance of maintaining a healthy and vibrant ecosystem within MPT parks. This paper introduces and applies the tools of ecological economics, including an ecosystem services valuation to MPT.
  • Title:
    Puget Sound: Washington State’s Best Investment
    Year:
    2012
    Abstract:
    This paper explores how investing in Puget Sound recovery saves tax dollars and creates jobs for Washington State. By looking at Chesapeake Bay recovery efforts, we can apply valuable and proven approaches. We explore how to leverage natural capital for greater economic prosperity for all Washington State residents and provide specific examples that leaders can implement immediately.
  • Title:
    What’s the Economy for, Anyway?
    Year:
    2011
    Abstract:
    The issue of the economy is unquestionably one of the most pressing in America today, and solutions cannot wait. "What's the Economy for, Anyway?" is a film - and now book! - that covers many of the issues within the larger economic question, including the efficacy of the GDP as a dominant economic measure, tax policies favoring the wealthy, frayed health and social safety nets, and a tattered environment.



General Publications
The Ecosystem Promise Meinder Brouwer - David K. Batker, contributor

What is Ecological Economics?

Sustainability through a New Economic Paradigm for the 21st Century

Common Terms in Ecological Economics