Focal Areas

Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Service Logic Models & Socio-Economic Indicators (GEMS)

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Billions of dollars will be spent on large-scale restoration of Gulf ecosystems over the coming decades, but there is no shared platform to guide assessment and reporting of restoration progress and effectiveness for the broad set of environmental, social, and economic goals shared by the many institutions working in the Gulf. The diversity of these goals—including habitat restoration, water quality improvement, marine resource protection, community resilience, and economic revitalization—means that a variety of metrics are needed to fully evaluate the effectiveness of restoration projects. A set of common models and metrics relevant across projects, programs, and locations can facilitate effective project planning and evaluation.

With support from the National Academies’ Gulf Research Program, Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, The Harte Research Institute, and The Nature Conservancy are leading a project to advance standardized metrics of restoration success by developing ecosystem service logic models with stakeholders from the five Gulf states, relevant federal agencies, and technical experts. Ecosystem service logic models trace the effects of restoration strategies as they influence ecological and social systems to create outcomes that are important to people. The use of logic models is recommended by the National Academies of Science as best practice for monitoring plan design; these models can provide a practical and transferable approach for measuring success at different scales.

Numerous strategies for coastal restoration exist, and there are many places along the Gulf coast where restoration can be implemented. Ecosystem service logic models are a great tool to compare across restoration strategies and locations to match likely restoration outcomes with stakeholder goals. In addition, evidence that accompanies these models can be used to clarify uncertainties that need to be considered and to identify critical research gaps. 

This project is a case study of the Bridge Collaborative, a global coalition of scientists, practitioners and organizations rapidly moving beyond business as usual to create a more equitable and sustainable world. It will be used to test Bridge guidance on logic models and evidence evaluation as tools to advance cross-sector impact.

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