Monday, May 16, 2016 - 00:00

New report highlights economic value of coastal region’s natural resources

May 16, 2016

Natural resources in the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound region provide greater and more diverse economic benefits than previously thought, according to a new report.

The report estimated economic benefits exceeding $475 million for commercial sectors that depend directly on natural resources, including agriculture, forestry and commercial fishing. In addition, these sectors directly employ approximately 36,000 workers in the region, generating more than $672 million in wages each year. 

Benefits to households were measured in terms of outdoor recreational activities and the aesthetic value of natural resources. The report estimates benefits of more than $3.7 billion from activities such as fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and visits to national seashores and state parks.  

Indirect benefits such as the removal of air pollutants by tree cover in the watershed were also evaluated, and estimated to save $81 million in human health costs each year.

“The report provides new insight into human relationships with the natural resources of this region. It will serve as an important tool for educators, scientists and policy makers,” said Dr. William Crowell, the partnership’s director. “Hopefully, it will lead to greater conservation efforts and investments in the Albemarle-Pamlico ecosystem.”

The Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership contracted with researchers at RTI International to estimate the annual economic value of natural resources in the region. The report, which is the first of its kind, focused on benefits that communities derive from land and water resources, including direct benefits to the commercial sector and households, as well as indirect benefits such as air quality improvement through forests.

To read the complete Economic Valuation of the Albemarle-Pamlico Watershed’s Natural Resources, visit To view slides from a webinar on key findings of the report, visit:

The Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership seeks to identify, protect and restore the significant resources of the region. The partnership is hosted by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality under a federal grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The partnership’s program area extends over 20,000 square miles, spanning river basins in both North Carolina and Virginia. To learn more about the partnership, visit