What would an economist know about ecological restoration? Well, while he or she may not be up on the taxonomy or ecology of the plants and animals being targeted in a restoration effort, an economist brings considerable expertise when it comes to evaluating the costs of a project (expertise that historically has been lacking in some of the solutions proposed by conservation scientists).
Accurately evaluating likely costs is an important dimension of effective ecological restoration, however, the discipline of economics has so much more to offer. Unfortunately, many restoration practitioners don’t think beyond ‘costs’ when it comes to economics. Well, it’s time they did because economics has a lot more to offer to enhance the likelihood of success of a restoration effort.
Sayed Iftekhar, a CEED researcher based at the University of Western Australia, outlines four key aspects of restoration where economics can provide valuable assistance: estimation of restoration benefits; estimation of the costs of restoration; selection and prioritisation of projects, and securing long-term financial resources to support restoration.
Pic: It’s one thing to know the cost of a restoration activity (such as direct seed drilling as pictured here), but to ensure the best outcomes of ecological restoration it’s critical to incorporate the full range of social, ecological and economic benefits into your planning. (Photo courtesy of Greening Australia)