Calculating Net Natural Capital Resource Benefits for the Lightning Point Living Shoreline, Bayou La Batre, Alabama
Net natural capital resource benefits, including primary, secondary and tertiary biological production, are supporting ecosystem services which provide direct economic benefits. However, conversion to currencies for natural capital such as primary and secondary production is complex. The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) Early Restoration agreement between the Federal and State Trustees and Responsible Party (RP) presented a unique case where the two parties intensely negotiated both the ecological benefits (resources, habitats and services restored) of restoration projects, and costs the RP was willing to pay for those benefits. During the DWH Early Restoration program, the trustees utilized Habitat Equivalency Analysis (HEA) and Resource Equivalency Analysis (REA) to estimate net benefits from various restoration projects. In addition, a team of specialists adapted the EPA fate and effects ecosystem model AQUATOX to represent numerous nearshore habitats of the Mississippi and Alabama coasts and estimated baseline levels of primary, secondary and higher levels productivity estimates for each habitat. Productivity estimates can be made for specific habitats, individual taxa, or trophic-level guilds. AQUATOX outputs for productivity (g-m-2-yr-1AFDW) can be utilized in REA analyses and then combined this with willingness-to-pay information from DWH Early Restoration to arrive at natural capital monetary values for Gulf Coast restoration projects. For the living shoreline constructed as Lightning Point, Alabama we applied these methodologies to calculate the net natural capital benefits for the project. This information which was provided to the funding agency (National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, NFWF), and was useful in demonstrating both ecological and fiscal accountability for the project. In this case, the project generated a 4:1 net benefit from natural capital net benefit for salt marsh, (1,115 DSAYs vs 270 DSAYs) and overall at least a 3:1 economic benefit (~$67MM vs ~$22MM). We will demonstrate the methodology and data used to develop these metrics that can be used for tracking numerous Gulf Coast restoration efforts funded by multiple DWH restoration programs such as NRDA, RESTORE and the NFWF-Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund.
AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 2021