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Todd BenDor and Bill Lester–Co-PIs. Environmental protection has long been seen as a threat to thriving businesses and robust employment numbers. But the assumption that environmental regulations stifle the economy ignores the economic output and employment gains resulting from these protections in the form of the ecological restoration industry. BenDor and Lester, both professors in the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning, along with three other researchers conducted a national survey of businesses and organizations participating in ecological restoration work to estimate the total sales and number of jobs directly associated with the restoration economy. They found direct employment resulting from the ecological restoration industry (~126,000 workers) is higher than in many traditional industries, including coal mining or logging, and the $9.5 billion restoration sector presents opportunities to help grow the broader “green economy.”

The research was published last month in the journal PLOS One and follows a related paper by the research team featured in the May 2015 issue of Restoration Ecology. Read articles about the research in The Huffington Post and Co.Exist (Fast Company). Read more about this in the Summer 2015 CURS newsletter.