- Just a niche market in the 1980s, ecosystem restoration has surged in the past five years, with announced multi-year projects exceeding $70 billion worldwide and annual revenues in the US of more than $1 billion a year, industry sources say.
"From an ecological restoration standpoint, there's something on the order of tens of billions of dollars in the pipeline just in this country," says Bowers, who also is chairman of the Society for Ecological Restoration International in Tucson, Ariz. The group has 2,500 members and 14 international chapters - most of those added in just the past decade.
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Funding for such obvious restoration projects far exceeds global funding for basic conservation. Because of that, future restoration will one day be a mammoth industry vital to the planet's well-being, some say. Already ecological restoration is a major part of a "huge, almost entirely hidden" economic sector in which more than $1 trillion is being poured into restoration, much of which benefits the environment, says Storm Cunningham, an ecorestoration advocate in Alexandria, Va.
Why hidden? Because accounting for new construction is detailed and well-defined, while infrastructure restoration that helps ecosystems, such as upgraded sewer systems, are rarely accounted as ecosystem restoration. So little data are available, he says.
"The majority of economic activity is restorative but nobody acknowledges it because our systems are still in old-frontier mode," Mr. Cunningham says. "We've come to assume that economic growth is synonymous with conquering new lands and extracting virgin resources."
Bull Market for Eco-restoration
Yesterday's Christian Science Monitor has an interesting piece on the growing demand for private sector ecological restoration services. Types of services include environmental restoration (wetlands, habitat, etc.), sewer system upgrades, and brownfield redevelopment. From the article: