Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Coastal habitats worldwide are under increasing threat of destruction through human activities such as farming, aquaculture, timber extraction, or real estate development. This loss of habitat carries with it the loss of critical functions that coastal ecosystems provide: support of marine species, retention of shorelines, water quality, and scenic beauty, to name a few. These losses are large from an ecological standpoint but they are economically significant as well. Because the value of these ecosystem services is not easily captured in markets, those who control these lands often do not consider these values when choosing whether to clear the habitat to produce goods that can be sold in the marketplace. This is a form of market failure that leads to excessive habitat destruction. As a result, scientists, policymakers, and other concerned parties are seeking ways to change economic incentives to correct the problem. This is a revised version of a previously published policy brief.