Investing in Ecological Infrastructure

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Publication Date:

Investing in ‘ecological infrastructure’ makes economic sense in terms of cost effectiveness and rates of return, once the whole range of benefits provided by maintained, restored or increased ecological services are taken into account. Well-documented examples include investing in mangroves or other wetland ecosystems as well as watersheds, instead of man-made infrastructure like dykes or waste water treatment plants, in order to sustain or enhance the provision of ecosystem services. It is usually much cheaper to avoid degradation than to pay for ecological restoration. This is particularly true for biodiversity: species that go extinct cannot be brought back. Nonetheless, there are many cases where the expected benefits from restoration far exceed the costs. If transformation of ecosystems is severe, true restoration of pre-existing species assemblages, ecological processes and the delivery rates of services may well be impossible. However, some ecosystem services may often be recovered by restoring simplified but well-functioning ecosystems modeled on the pre-existing local system.

Resource Type:
Technical Document

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity