Project Methods


The GEMS project was conducted in two phases. Phase I focused on understanding the various types of oyster reef restoration occurring in the Gulf and how they contribute to social and economic well-being. Phase II builds on the approach developed in phase I and applies it to a broader spectrum of restoration approaches – including other habitat restoration, hydrological reconnection, recreational enhancement, and water quality improvement projects – currently being used or planned across the five US States along the Gulf of Mexico.

An advisory council with representatives from state and federal governments, funders, and critical partners provided insight on the selection of restoration approaches that were included. Both phases involved engagement of restoration experts and practitioners, conversations with a broad suite of stakeholders, and in-person workshops at local and regional scales.

Learn more about our process

Ecosystem Services Logic Models (ESLMs)

ESLMs show how each restoration action cascades through the natural and human system to result in a set of directly linked (and attributable) social and economic outcomes. These can be downloaded and adapted for use by specific projects or programs to identify relevant outcomes for project justification or monitoring plans.  

Each ESLM indicates which social and economic outcomes are strongly linked to the project type. Strongly linked outcomes are those that are likely to cause a substantial change in the outcome. We also compiled evidence supporting the general oyster reef restoration model and assessed the strength of evidence for each outcome.

Search models by project type, or learn more about ESLMs.

GEMS models example diagram



Key Habitat Restoration (HR) Oyster Restoration (OR) Recreation Enhancement (RE) Water Quality Improvement (WQ)
Core Metric        
Not Core        
No Metric        

Social and Economic Metrics

For each social and economic outcome, we worked with practitioners to identify a set of metrics that meet the SMARTs criteria (PDF). The social and economic metrics identified include traditional economic market values (such as number of jobs created) and benefit relevant indicators (length of shoreline with reduced erosion near public infrastructure). Other measures of social and economic value were not included. The metrics were designed for both project- and program-scale assessments.

All outcomes that contribute to resilience are marked in the outcome lists (with "R") on the models and metrics pages, so that those interested in resilience can easily identify them.

Metric protocols that describe methods for quantifying how much each metric is changed by a restoration project and who has access to the metric outcome are coming soon for project-scale metrics. Developing measurement protocols for program-scale metrics was not within the scope of this project, but we explain how these types of metrics might be measured in the future.

Examine the core metrics list here [coming soon]. Core metrics are a short list of strongly linked metrics that are common across projects to allow for consistency, comparison, and rolling up results.

Search full metrics list, or learn more about metrics.

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Project Types

Oyster reef
Salt marsh
Mangroves in Puerto Rico

The GEMS project included the following project types:

  • Habitat restoration projects – oyster reef, oyster aquaculture, living shorelines, mangroves, salt marsh, seagrass, dunes and beaches.
  • Recreational enhancement projects – boat ramps, fishing piers, trails and boardwalks.
  • Hydrological reconnection
  • Water quality projects – stormwater and wastewater treatment including green infrastructure options and treatment wetlands.