Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
July 2021

GEMS Phase II Report: Coastal Restoration

Gems-Phase-II-Report-Coastal-Restoration Cover Image

Billions of dollars will be spent on large-scale restoration of Gulf ecosystems over the coming decades, but there is currently 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. This report, a product of the Bridge CollaborativeDuke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy SolutionsThe Harte Research Institute, and The Nature Conservancy, with support from the National Academies' Gulf Research Program — is a part of a project to advance standardized metrics of restoration success by developing ecosystem service logic models (ESLMs) with stakeholders from the five Gulf states, relevant federal agencies, and technical experts. ESLMs 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 a 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. ESLMs 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 Phase II report of the GEMS project identifies metrics available to monitor the social and economic outcomes of a wide variety of coastal projects funded in the Gulf, using ESLMs to illustrate how these projects’ impacts cascade through the biophysical system to result in social and economic outcomes. Phase II expands the focus to assess socioeconomic metrics for 16 coastal project types, including habitat restoration, recreational enhancement, and water quality improvement projects.

This report follows the Phase I report, which focused on understanding the various types of oyster reef restoration occurring in the Gulf and how those projects contribute to social and economic well-being.