bird flying over wetland

Quantifying the benefits of wetland restoration for carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services


Nature-based solutions for climate mitigation, such as restored wetlands that aid carbon sequestration, also provide additional benefits such as habitat for endangered species or adaptation benefits such as flood control. Such benefits need to be modeled in conjunction with carbon (C) sequestration benefits and valued to determine the extent of complementary benefits versus trade-offs, and how a regional system of nature-based solutions can provide the highest level of joint benefits. Yet, linking the economic value of distinct ecosystem services to restoration decisions is still a significant challenge. The economic value of C storage and other wetland ecosystem services should be included in decisions on wetland restoration to support the mainstreaming of nature-based solutions into broader adaptation efforts, yet there are significant knowledge gaps related to the benefits provided by coastal wetlands.

We intend to quantify and compare the economic values of C storage and other ecosystem services from coastal wetlands to estimate the economic benefits and social equity of benefits/tradeoffs. This information will be used to provide economic and C tracking guidelines associated with wetland restoration projects.


We will assess the economic value of C storage and other ecosystem services provided by wetlands. For C sequestration, we will estimate the economic value of the damages avoided by the reductions in GHGs that coastal wetland restoration projects could provide, and the value gained by C sequestration using the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC). The SCC measures the present discounted value of avoided damages from a ton of C sequestration at a given point in time. Benefits and costs of restoration will be quantified under different scenarios defined by SCC values, cost parameters, and restoration and management designs. 

In addition to assessing the C-storage value of wetlands in our study regions, we will quantify and compare other relevant ecosystem services using a mix of data collection and empirical modeling. Data for the analysis is available from local, regional, and state agencies and institutions or can be compiled from empirical models that relate relevant land use and biophysical indicators to expected ecosystems. The values estimated for multiple ecosystem services will be synthesized, compared, and ranked to assess potential tradeoffs and synergies between C storage and other ecosystem services. We will additionally collect data on the costs of wetland restoration from restoration practitioners and agencies. These costs will be compared with the total estimated economic value of their ecosystem services, to assess the value of coastal wetlands and identify “win-win” areas where restoration can achieve multiple objectives. Specific emphasis will be given to the equity and sustainability of the restoration scenarios and environmental justice considerations.


This project is part of a larger effort titled “Coastal Wetland Restoration a Nature Based Decarbonization Multi-Benefit Climate Mitigation Solution,” led by researchers at UC Santa Cruz and funded by the UC-National Lab  Research and Training Award.