Ensuring community resilience and economic stability

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The Thurston Climate Adaptation Plan is an important step toward ensuring community resilience and economic sustainability. As part of this plan, the Thurston Regional Planning Council is considering several actions to prepare for climate change impacts.


This report provides a holistic benefit-cost analysis (BCA) for two climate adaptation actions identified in the Thurston Climate Adaptation Plan, going beyond traditional economic measures (e.g., capital costs, acquisition costs) to take nature’s services into account. Action F-01 evaluates and secures sustained funding to restore and protect riparian vegetation along freshwater and marine shorelines. Action G-12 aims to increase incentives for targeted urban development, ensure that redevelopment projects are financially viable. The benefit-cost ratio (BCR) is the dollar value of benefits produced by each dollar of related costs; in other words, the return on investment for every $1 in expenditures or forfeited revenue. Our BCA results show that both of these adaptation actions will provide significantly greater ecosystem service benefits that should be taken into account when considering whether to take other actions. Highlights include:

  • The BCR for Action F-01 ranges from 1.73 (based on low estimates of the value of ecosystem services) to 9.34 (based on high estimates).

  • The BCR for Action G-12 ranges from 14.78 (low estimates) to 18.15 (high estimates).

  • Ecosystem services in restored riparian areas will produce between $2,644 and $8,311 per acre, every year.

Additional community benefits, such as expanded employment opportunities and associated income have not been included in this analysis. Even without these benefits, investing in climate adaptation in Thurston County offers exceptionally good returns. 

IMPACT: Winner of an American Planning Association award for sustainability and clearly highlights how ecosystem services values can be incorporated into benefit-cost analyses.

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Armistead, C., Casey, P., Kocian, M., Flores, L. 2017. Benefit-Cost Analysis of Selected Actions from the Thurston Climate Adaptation Plan. Earth Economics, Tacoma, WA. 

This study was funded by Thurston Regional Planning Council.