Rapid Benefit Indicators (RBI) Approach
The Rapid Benefit Indicator (RBI) approach is an easy-to-use process for assessing restoration sites using non-monetary benefit indicators. It uses readily-available data to estimate and quantify benefits to people around an ecological restoration site. Whether you are a federal, state, or local manager, or a member of an interest group or funding organization, this simple yet powerful site analysis will allow you and your stakeholders to systematically and equitably incorporate social benefits in restoration decisions.
The RBI allows users to quickly estimate and quantify benefits to people around an ecological restoration site. The new Spatial Analysis Toolset (ArcGIS toolbox) provides tools to compile these indicators for potential wetland restoration sites using ArcGIS and spatial datasets. The toolset can be used as an alternative to the spreadsheet-based checklist tool by using geospatial analysis to automate indicator estimation, which allows users to assess more sites in less time. The toolset can also be used in conjunction with the spreadsheet-based checklist tool, as both tools summarize results in a similar format.
Examples of how the RBI approach can be used for restoration projects:
- Prioritize restoration sites and projects
- Screen projects that may require further evaluation
- Justify funding requests
- Assess who may benefit the most from a project
- Evaluate tradeoffs
- Inform people about the benefits of restoration
- Evaluate what a project has accomplished
- Inform further planning
- Inform a structured decision making process or monetary evaluation
Date Description 01/04/2017 RBI Approach Tool, Manual, and Forms. This page provides the interactive tool with associated manual and an alternative to the interactive tool all in one location. Each component can also be accessed individually below:
- RBI Approach Checklist Tool (interactive Excel® spreadsheet). This tool accompanies the guidebook and provides a way to record information and compare sites using the RBI approach. The spreadsheet-based tool includes prompts to guide you through the assessment process, and automatically summarizes entries. (Checklist Tool Quick Start Manual)
- RBI Approach Fillable Checklist Forms (pdf). This alternative to the interactive Checklist Tool is a fillable, formatted PDF that will work on any operating system. The PDF does not have all the functionality of the spreadsheet and will only allow for the comparison of two sites at a time.
12/14/2017 Approach Spatial Analysis Toolset and Manual. This page provides the toolset and associated manual in one location. The two can also be accessed separately below:
- RBI Approach Spatial Analysis Toolset (ArcGIS toolbox). This toolset is intended to be used to analyze existing spatial information to produce metrics for the indicators developed in the RBI approach Guidebook. The RBI Spatial Analysis (.pyt) Toolbox uses ArcPy functionality within ArcGIS to run the spatial analysis. This tool can be used in place of the Checklist Tool and produces a similar formatted PDF report of results.
- RBI Approach Spatial Analysis Toolset Manual. This Spatial Analysis Toolset Manual gives directions on the mechanics of the toolbox and its data requirements. The manual does not detail the reasoning behind the indicators and how to use results of the assessment; this information is found in the RBI Approach Guidebook.
01/04/2017 RBI Approach Guidebook. The guidebook presents the RBI approach using an example application to wetland restoration. In this guide, each step of the RBI approach is introduced by an overview section that summarizes the step and explains how to apply it. Following the full walkthrough of each step, you will find “Step in Action” pages that demonstrate how the step is applied in a real-world scenario, using an example application to freshwater wetland restoration in the Woonasquatucket River Watershed in Rhode Island, USA. 01/04/2017 RBI Approach Fact Sheet. This one-page document briefly describes the RBI approach and how it might be used.
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- Research Publications
- Combining ecosystem services assessment with structured decision making to support ecological restoration planning (2018). This article demonstrates a way to incorporate the RBI approach into a decision-making process. We engaged with decision makers at the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council to develop a scoring and ranking tool to screen dozens of potential wetland restoration sites for their social benefits.
- Non-monetary valuation using Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis: Using a strength-of-evidence approach to inform choices among alternatives (2018). This article applies a decision-support method to distinguish between a reduced set of potential wetland restoration sites. We engaged with decision makers to develop preferences for benefit indicator values, based on strength of evidence, to help them distinguish between which site comparisons were important and which were not. This outranking tool clarified the relationships between restoration sites for decision-making purposes.
- Non-monetary valuation using Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis: Sensitivity of additive aggregation methods to scaling and compensation assumptions (2018). This article discusses several possible methods to score and rank ecosystem service outcomes to understand the value or worth of a site or landscape for restoration planning.
- Ecological restoration should be redefined for the twenty-first century (2017). This article discusses how the concept of ecological restoration has evolved from mainly scientific to social and scientific connotations based in part on why people restore ecosystems – to achieve common values and beliefs. We suggest modifications to the definition of ecological restoration so that the social benefits of ecological restoration are more adequately considered.
- Management of Urban Ecosystem Restoration: Learning from Restoration Managers in Rhode Island, USA (2017). The success of urban restoration projects—even those focused primarily on ecological targets—depends on community involvement and managers considering community needs. This work presents barriers for aquatic restoration projects in urban settings and strategies to overcome them. Based on lessons learned from managers’ work in urban settings, we present an adaptive management approach to decision making for urban aquatic restoration.
- Barriers, Opportunities, and Strategies for Urban Ecosystem Restoration: Lessons Learned from Restoration Managers in Rhode Island, USA (2016). This report presents barriers, opportunities, and strategies for restoration projects and synthesizes lessons learned by restoration managers working in primarily urban settings.
- Benefit Indicators for Flood Regulation Services of Wetlands: A Modeling Approach (2015). This report describes a modeling process, following the RBI approach, used to develop indicators to assess increases in flood protection benefits from wetlands restoration.
- Manager Perspectives on Communication and Public Engagement in Ecological Restoration Project Success (2015). This article focuses on the restoration community in Rhode Island to draw connections among communication, community involvement, and ecological restoration project success. Offering real-world examples drawn from interviews with 27 local, state, federal, and nonprofit restoration managers, it synthesizes the mechanisms that managers found effective.
Related EPA Resources
- Science Matters: EPA’s Rapid Benefits Indicator Helps Wetland Communities Estimate and Quantify Benefits
- Methods, Models, Tools, and Databases for Water Research
- Watershed Sustainability Research
- Healthy Watersheds
- Contact us with questions or comments about the RBI Approach.