Natural Resource Economics
IEc is a leader in using advanced economic methods to value natural resources and ecosystem services. While markets provide important information, society values many goods and services that are not traded in markets. IEc employs special analytic techniques to shed light on the value of improved visibility, the value of protecting wildlife, the public’s willingness to pay for clean drinking water, and other non-market amenities.
We design and implement studies built on market and non-market valuation techniques such as market price methods, contingent valuation, attribute-based or choice modeling methods, hedonics, and travel-cost modeling. We also develop innovative approaches built on existing research and data when time and resource constraints preclude primary research.
IEc applies natural resource economics in a broad cross-section of its work, including environmental policy analysis, natural resource damage assessment, water resources allocation, and endangered species management. We frequently collaborate with prominent academic experts in the field of natural resource economics, ensuring our clients access to cutting-edge perspectives and defensible methodologies.
Ecosystem services contribute to human well-being by regulating air and water quality, reducing storm damage, and providing food, drinking water, and recreational opportunities. IEc consultants are at the forefront of developing ecosystem service valuation methods that blend biophysical and economic analysis into hybrid models. We have applied this expertise in the context of national-level rulemakings, as well as to demonstrate benefits of site-specific land and resource management projects.
As part of our ecosystem valuation work, IEc maintains a collaborative relationship with the Natural Capital Project. A partnership between two universities and two conservation organizations, the Natural Capital Project develops and applies science-based methods and software tools to map and value natural services. Several IEc consultants are trained in the application of the Natural Capital Project’s Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) models and we have worked with InVEST developers to tailor the models to real-life land and resource management and policy decisions.
Policy decisions sometimes involve unique natural resources best valued through original research, i.e., collection of field data and estimation of statistical models. IEc offers extensive expertise in econometric analysis and related statistical modeling techniques. Using a variety of statistical software packages, we apply regression, discrete choice, and non-parametric methods to analyze data. We are also expert in survey design, survey implementation, and data management methods often needed to generate underlying data on visitation, preferences, and behavior. Combining these quantitative skills with our knowledge of resource economics allows us to interpret analytic findings and advise clients accordingly.
When making resource management choices, decision-makers often consider impacts on commercial economic activity in a geographic area. For instance, protecting a plant species may influence local real estate development. Investing in wetland conservation may enhance expenditures by recreational bird watchers. These direct impacts can cascade through the local economy, affecting output and employment in related businesses.
IEc is expert in the application of regional economic models that estimate how initial changes in one economic sector will flow through the economic system. IEc consultants are trained in application of widely used software (e.g., IMPLAN), and understand the potential biases and limits of these models for informing resource management decisions.