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#BusinessCase: Report Reveals 36:1 Social ROI for Landscape-Scale Restoration

Image Credit: Johannes Ludwig

Landscape-scale restoration has the power to create a 36:1 social return on investment, according to two new reports from nonprofit Restore the Earth Foundation and Social Value International (SVI).

Based on the results of eco-restoration projects in Louisiana’s Tensas National Wildlife Refuge and the Pointe-aux-Chenes Wildlife Management Area, the reports assess, quantify and monetize the environmental, social and economic impacts of investments in landscape-scale restoration on local communities, economies and stakeholders. Report findings support the business case for funding a holistic climate-smart solution to degraded and destroyed ecosystems.

Restore the Earth Foundation commissioned the Water Institute of the Gulf to serve as an independent third party to research and complete these SROI assessments using Restore the Earth’s proprietary EcoMetrics™. The EcoMetrics Model is aligned with the guiding principles of Social Value International’s SROI methodology and International Integrated Reporting Council’s Reporting Framework.

“Restore the Earth’s EcoMetrics provides a unique perspective on the investment in restoration projects. This in-depth analysis gives funders the ability to understand and communicate returns through the use of quantifiable indicators, verified metrics and monetized value,” said Ben Carpenter, Operations Manager at Social Value International.

“We began measuring the social impact of restoration in an effort to develop a strong business case for major investment in natural capital and green infrastructure and to demonstrate the superior financial and social returns they offer as opposed to ‘grey’ infrastructure projects,” explained PJ Marshall, Co-founder and Executive Director, of Restore the Earth Foundation.

“These returns are experienced more directly by the stakeholders on whom the financial health of business depends: customers, employees and members of the communities they serve.”

According to Marshall, natural capital and green infrastructure investments offer demonstrable benefits to corporate investors, including cost-effective reductions in their environmental footprint, as well as improvements to brand perception and employee recruitment and retention.

This is illustrated through the example of Entergy Corporation, a leader in electric power production and retail distribution operation, which invested $1,546,000 into the restoration of 1,942 acres of bottomland hardwood forest in the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). For every $1 Entergy invested, $36 of integrated environmental, social and economic value is created and accounted for.

Of the $36, $33 of non-market social value is returned to the community based on cleaner air and water, job creation, enhanced recreational opportunities, soil stabilization, storm protection and flood control. Three dollars in market value is also created by the carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous offsets and social license to operate. In total, communities and multiple stakeholders will benefit from $119,611947 in environmental, social and economic value creation.

“Nearly all US business organizations have one or more components of their value chains that rely on the ecosystem services and natural capital of North America’s Amazon — the Mississippi River,” said Edwin Pinero, Director of Water Projects at the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development. “This region is fundamental to the national economy and ecosystem integrity, and warrants care and investment. All business benefit from investing in restoring the lower Mississippi River basin.”


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