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Biodiversity Backers Continue Push For Convergence In June

New guidance from the Center for Biological Diversity aims to integrate biodiversity safeguards into sustainability standards while a study finds REDD+ isn’t delivering the positive outcome for wildlife as originally thought. Also, Ecosystem Marketplace continues to unfold its series on saving Indonesia’s forests and orangutan habitat from palm oil development.

New guidance from the Center for Biological Diversity aims to integrate biodiversity safeguards into sustainability standards while a study finds REDD+ isn’t delivering the positive outcome for wildlife as originally thought. Also, Ecosystem Marketplace continues to unfold its series on saving Indonesia’s forests and orangutan habitat from palm oil development.  

This article was originally posted in the Mit Mail newsletter. Click here to read the original.

21 July 2014 | When world-renowned primatologist Biruté Galdikas learned that palm oil company PT Best was about to destroy Borneo’s Seruyan Forest, she began frantically trying to raise money for her organization, the Orangutan Foundation International, in efforts to stop the slaughter of orangutans in the forest. One day, her phone rang.  

“I remember it clearly,” she says. “This man says he’s calling from Shanghai, China, and he won’t stop talking, won’t let me get a word in edgewise, and then he asks me – and I’ll never forget this – he asks me if there’s a forest that needs to be saved.”

 

The man’s name was Todd Lemons, a serial entrepreneur from the United States who’d grown up listening to his grandfather’s tales of his adventures in the Amazon and reading National Geographic. It was on the magazine’s October, 1975 cover that he first encountered Galdikas.

 

“He started going on and on about how trees capture carbon and people would pay us to save the trees to stop global warming, and I thought to myself, ‘Oh, a carbon cowboy.'”

 

Still, something kept her on the phone. Maybe it was his knowledge of forestry. Or maybe it was just curiosity on her part. Whatever it was, when they hung up, she’d pegged him as sincere and knowlegeable about the timber trade – but naí¯ve about the rest of the world.

 

He called again about a week later, this time from his home in Hong Kong, and caught her on her way to Los Angeles International Airport.

 

“I was in a hurry,” Galdikas says. “So I told him that if he was serious, he’d have to come and visit me in in Pangkalan Bun.”

 

About a week after that, she heard a knock on her door. It was Lemons.

 

 

In this month’s Mitigation Mail, we highlight a new special reporting series from Ecosystem Marketplace that takes us deep into Indonesia’s forests, where biodiversity advocates, carbon financiers, and sustainable commodity certification developers are joining forces to save the country’s forests from clearing for palm oil.

 

It’s a signal of eco-markets’ maturation that cross-cutting stories like these are becoming more common. More than ever before, conservationists and entrepreneurs have a range of financing strategies and tools at their disposal to protect important places – consider how the Bethlehem Authority that manages the forested watershed of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains recently struck a deal with Disney to sell forest carbon offsets from a 20,000-acre project. The authority estimates that the sale of offsets will bring in $140,000 to $170,000 annually, which it will use to improve the aging water system and protect the forest.


Of course, work needs to be done to make sure that all the benefits promised are actually being captured. An article this month from Mongabay finds that REDD+ projects aren’t delivering expected wildlife conservation outcomes. A step in the right direction is the CBD’s new guidance on integrating biodiversity safeguards into sustainability standards and certifications, discussed below.


It’s also been an…interesting month in the US wetland and conservation banking space – check out our Mitigation Roundup below for stories on a lawsuit over a South Carolina bank’s plan to convert freshwater wetlands to salt marsh, a proposal to sidestep mitigation requirements by raising and releasing lesser prairie chickens in Kansas, and the uncertain fate of blueberry general permits in Michigan.


Finally, if you enjoy your monthly MitMail, help us keep the lights on: consider making a small donation. As a not-for-profit organization, it’s our mission to provide top-notch, freely available information on environmental markets and conservation finance, and we rely on our supporters to be able to do so. Just $150 gets you a place of honor on our sidebar for a year. Click here to donate.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at mitmail@ecosystemmarketplace.com.



EM Exclusives

Examples, dialogue, and clearer policy need in biodiversity offsetting

In early June, 280 individuals from 32 countries met in London at the To No Net Loss of Biodiversity and Beyond conference to discuss how to ensure that development is planned to achieve no net loss or preferably a net gain in biodiversity. They explored international experience and policy on no net loss and a net gain of biodiversity, and everyone was searching for practical solutions to reconcile development with environmental protection and social fairness.

 

“There is a real genuine interest in the topic of no net loss of biodiversity now,” says BBOP Director, Kerry ten Kate. “People want to discuss it and share ideas and hear different perspectives from around the world.” Many useful lessons were shared throughout the two days and recommendations sprang from every session. However, a number of cross-cutting, key issues emerged as major themes – including strengthening protections, clarifying policy, and considering offsets only within the context of a mitigation hierarchy.

Keep reading.


How a primatologist, an industrialist, and an ecosystem entrepreneur took on big palm oil and won

When world-renowned primatologist Biruté Galdikas learned that palm oil company PT Best was about to destroy Borneo’s Seruyan Forest, she thought all was lost. Then she met ecosystem entrepreneur Todd Lemons and industrialist Rusmin Widjajam. Here’s how they blended cutting-edge finance and old-fashioned moxie to outmaneuver Big Palm Oil and save the forest.


We all use palm oil every day, and nearly half the world’s supply comes from Indonesia – with devastating results for the country’s forests, wildlife, and the global climate. Fixing it is no easy matter.

Keep reading.


Mitigation News

Comment period extended for proposed rule clarifying CWA jurisdiction

Last month, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it’s extending the public comment period on a proposed rule clarifying jurisdiction over waters of the United States, until October 21, 2014. The proposed rule, developed by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, aims to provide a consistent definition of the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act, after years of muddled interpretation and ad-hoc decision-making. The EPA says the extension is in response to the volume of comments already received and signs that the rule is not being interpreted as intended. “There’s a lot of concern among agricultural interests in their states and what the industry has read into it,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters. “We need some time to get out there and, if need be, write the rule in a way so the intent is understood.”

Read the public notice.
Learn more about the proposed rule.


Study finds unequal balance between carbon stocks and species richness

While the primary objective of the market mechanism REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) is to reduce carbon emissions coming from forest loss, preserving vital habitat for wildlife was thought to be a valuable byproduct. However a new study found that forests rich in carbon that are being conserved through REDD+ don’t necessarily contain the same richness in wildlife. The mechanism may even propel species toward extinction. Research for the study took place in Antioquia, Colombia where researchers found deforestation activities simply moved from the fuller forests to the more sparse areas where a higher number of endemic species live. The study does note the overall success of REDD+ in reducing emissions and deforestation, but encourages a more comprehensive approach when selecting areas for protection.

Mongabay has coverage.


Mitigation roundup

Here’s what happened in the US mitigation world this month:

 

The first conservation bank in Santa Barbara County just opened its doors, with the 853-acre property offering credits for the threatened California tiger salamander.

 

In Colorado, the Summit Board of County Commissioners has asked the Army Corps of Engineers to exclude it from the proposed service area for a new wetland bank, citing elevation differences that would make inclusion inappropriate.

 

The US EPA says that a general permit for blueberry farming in regulated wetlands in Michigan violates section 404 of the Clean Water Act – meaning that mitigation requirements could come into play.

 

Biologists are raising eyebrows at Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s recent proposal that the state begin raising and releasing lesser prairie chickens – an idea first floated by energy companies looking for a way to avoid high mitigation fees for impacts to LPC habitat.

 

A lawsuit against a mitigation banker over his plans to convert rare freshwater wetlands in South Carolina to salt marsh habitat in order to sell bank credits has been dismissed, on the grounds that saltwater had already infiltrated the area.

 

A Diversion Authority in Cass County North Dakota has sticker stock from the $587,180 needed for mitigation of a ring dike projects – working out to $34,000 an acre.

 


CBD releases guidance on biodiversity safeguards for standards & certs

In June the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) released guidance on improving biodiversity and ecosystem services safeguards in voluntary standards and certifications. The document, part of CBD’s Technical Series, was written in collaboration with the UN Environment Program’s World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC). It aims to introduce standard-setting organizations to key concepts like the mitigation hierarchy or a ‘landscape approach’, and outline best practice for safeguards.

Learn more and get a copy of the guidance.


Australia deliberates over land offsets

A recent review of Australia’s offsetting policy has led the Senate’s environmental committee to recommend offsets only be used as a ‘last resort.’ Industries, such as mining, use offsets when damage to natural lands from development can’t be avoided. Advocates argue the mechanism acts as an integral method to preserve valuable land. But the Gladstone Bund Review questioned the management of offsets and if regulators had the capacity to ensure they’re being done properly. The government will review the committee’s report and decide what further action to take.

Read more from the Gladstone Observer.


EIP takes on big project restoring Louisiana wetlands with mitigation banking

Louisiana has lost an area of wetlands equivalent to the size of Delaware in the last 80 years. And while all wetlands provide valuable services, Louisiana’s coastal areas protect against the powerful hurricanes that pass through year after year, making restoring these marshes crucial to the state’s economy and prosperity. The private equity firm Ecosystem Investment Partners (EIP) aims to deliver some much-needed restoration work and generate a profit while doing it. So far, the company has purchased over 16,000 acres of swampland along Louisiana’s coast to develop mitigation bank credits. Mitigation banking is a commonly-used method for offsetting development impacts – but normally on a much smaller scale. EIP’s project is on a whole new level in terms of scope and of ambition.

The New York Times has the story.


New protocol will act as natcap accounting guide for businesses

A new development from the Natural Capital Coalition (NCC), a platform promoting natural capital accounting, will add to the resources available to help the private sector shift away from ‘business as usual’ scenarios and towards sustainable development. The NCC is establishing the Natural Capital Protocol (NCP). The Protocol will be developed by two consortia made up of academics, businesses, financial institutions and NGOs – one led by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the other by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


The WBCSD will work to create one framework that includes the many methodologies existing today on the impacts and dependencies companies have on and with nature. The IUCN consortium will translate the Protocol into sector-specific guides – one for apparel and another for food and beverage. In addition, the IUCN will lead pilot testing of the Protocol among businesses.

Read a press release.


Asking more of offsets in Madagascar

Research recently published in the Journal of Environmental Management suggests that Rio Tinto’s offset methodology for mining impacts in Madagascar could be strengthened. In particular, additionality of the offset may have been weak in places: “In Madagascar, Rio Tinto did not take into account the fact that the potential deforestation its offsetting project aimed to avoid was partly inflicted by the company itself, through road-building, arrival of migrant workers, and other factors,” writes the study’s author Malika Virah-Sawmy in a summary article.

 

Virah-Sawmy does not suggest that there is no place for offsets in conservation planning, but rather that scientific basis and transparency need to keep improving. Additionality and leakage in particular are “poorly dealt with in existing biodiversity offset projects – and as a result, they are much less effective than they could be.”

Read more at Phys.org.


Better biodiversity conservation more costly – but needed, study says

Four years ago, the Center for Biological Diversity laid out new goals to prevent biodiversity loss that envisioned expanding the area of land protected in order to halt the extinction of species. But these new objectives are expensive and achieving them is proving difficult. A study released in the journal PLOS Biology found many protected areas are conserving land with little economic value and failing to protect the biodiversity on more valuable ground.

 

“Our study shows that existing protected areas are performing very poorly in terms of protecting the world’s most threatened species,” said Dr. Oscar Venter, lead author of the study. “This is concerning, as protected areas are meant to act as strongholds for vulnerable species, which clearly they are not.” And while Venter concedes making improvements to biodiversity conservation is expensive, he also says that small increases in cost can have a large impact on preservation.

Learn more.


Delivering environmental context for businesses with natural capital and ecosystem services

In order for businesses to properly measure their natural risks and prospects, Sissel Wage of BSR, the nonprofit based on business sustainability, says natural capital, ecosystem services and green development must continue to move into actual practice. Each can drive investments towards the natural infrastructure the private sector depends on to conduct business. And environmental measures without these functioning parts can lead to misguided actions and unintended consequences.

Read more at The Guardian.


Florida panther payments would give endangered species a little breathing room

A program proposed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service would compensate Florida landowners for protecting panther habitat. The endangered Florida panther is not particularly popular with ranchers and landowners, but wildlife officials hope that incentives will do the trick. The program would pay landowners around $22 an acre to maintain habitats. “It’s really about buying us some time,” Kevin Godsea, manager for the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge tells The Guardian. “We are never going to be able to purchase all the land that we are going to need to recover the species.”

 

Get the full story.


How does media coverage of climate change affect biodiversity?

The topic of climate change gets the majority of media attention when it comes to environmental issues. But researchers at the University of Kent are urging that a growing public interest in climate should be used to leverage more support and action towards other important areas like biodiversity conservation. Kent released a study attempting to determine if climate change coverage has deflected attention away from biodiversity. Essentially, the study found biodiversity coverage -and funding from organizations like the World Bank – has remained consistent, while reporting and funding on climate change has accelerated.

 

 

Learn more.


EVENTS

 


Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration

CEER is a Collaborative Effort of the leaders of the National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (NCER) and the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER). It will bring together ecological and ecosystem restoration scientists and practitioners to address challenges and share information about restoration projects, programs, and research from across North America. Across the continent, centuries of unsustainable activities have damaged the aquatic, marine, and terrestrial environments that underpin our economies and societies and give rise to a diversity of wildlife and plants. This conference supports SER and NCER efforts to reverse environmental degradation by renewing and restoring degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats for the benefit of humans and nature. CEER is an interdisciplinary conference and brings together scientists, engineers, policy makers, restoration planners, partners, NGO’s and stakeholders from across the country actively involved in ecological and ecosystem restoration. 28 July – 1 August 2014. New Orleans, LA.

Learn more here.


16th Annual BIOECON Conference: Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability

The BIOECON Partners are pleased to announce the Sixteenth Annual International BIOECON conference on the theme of “Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability”. The conference will be held once again on the premises of Kings College Cambridge, England on the 22nd -23rd September 2014. The conference will be of interest to both researchers and policy makers working on issues broadly in the area of biodiversity, ecosystem services, sustainable development and natural capital, in both developed and developing countries. 21-23 September 2014. Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Learn more here.


ACES 2014 Conference: Linking Science, Practice, and Decision Making

ACES: A Community on Ecosystem Services represents a dynamic and growing assembly of professionals, researchers, and policy makers involved with ecosystem services. The ACES 2014 Conference brings together this community in partnership with Ecosystem Markets and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP), providing an open forum to share experiences, methods, and tools, for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference is to link science, practice, and sustainable decision making by bringing together the ecosystem services community from around the United States and the globe. ACES 2014 will bring together leaders in government, NGOs, academia, Native American communities, and the private sector to advance the use of ecosystem services science and practice in conservation, restoration, resource management, and development decisions. We hope you will make plans to join more than 500 ecosystem service stakeholders in this collaborative discussion to advance use of an ecosystem services framework for natural resource management and policy. 8-11 December 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.


JOBS

 


Senior Manager, Climate and Biodiversity Finance Policy

Conservation International – Arlington VA, USA

The Sr. Manager for Climate and Biodiversity Finance Policy will work as part of the International Policy team and will be responsible for leading cross-institutional dialogue to develop and implement CI strategy to achieve climate and biodiversity financing policy outcomes. S/he will track all relevant financing negotiations, new and emerging financial mechanisms and funds to inform strategy, and convey relevant information back to CI staff engaged in these issues. The Sr. Manager will also be charged with developing partnerships and coalitions with like-minded organizations to develop and promote joint policy positions, provide policy advice to decision makers and support and collaborate with CI Field Programs to engage their governments on financing issues through the production of high-level policy briefs, presentations, tools and engagement in relevant on-the-ground initiatives. In addition, the Sr. Manager will lead the Biodiversity Policy team, which is responsible for developing CI’s institutional strategy, priorities and positions on the CBD, IPBES and related international fora. S/he will support regional and national programs in engaging their governments to influence these forums and achieve policy objectives.

Learn more here.


Communications Manager, Ecosystems

Environmental Defense Fund – Various locations, United States

EDF is seeking a Communications Manager to develop and implement communications plans and media outreach strategies that further the goals of the Ecosystems Program, particularly in the area of agricultural sustainability.This position requires an understanding of and keen interest in conservation and agricultural issues. Reporting directly to the program’s Communications Director, the Communications Manager will write, edit and produce a range of communications materials while securing positive media coverage of the program’s work in top-tier, regional and ag trade outlets.

Learn more here.


Sustainable Fisheries Initiative Program Assistant

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at mitmail@ecosystemmarketplace.com.


EM Exclusives

Examples, dialogue, and clearer policy need in biodiversity offsetting

In early June, 280 individuals from 32 countries met in London at the To No Net Loss of Biodiversity and Beyond conference to discuss how to ensure that development is planned to achieve no net loss or preferably a net gain in biodiversity. They explored international experience and policy on no net loss and a net gain of biodiversity, and everyone was searching for practical solutions to reconcile development with environmental protection and social fairness.

 

“There is a real genuine interest in the topic of no net loss of biodiversity now,” says BBOP Director, Kerry ten Kate. “People want to discuss it and share ideas and hear different perspectives from around the world.” Many useful lessons were shared throughout the two days and recommendations sprang from every session. However, a number of cross-cutting, key issues emerged as major themes – including strengthening protections, clarifying policy, and considering offsets only within the context of a mitigation hierarchy.

Keep reading.


How a primatologist, an industrialist, and an ecosystem entrepreneur took on big palm oil and won

When world-renowned primatologist Biruté Galdikas learned that palm oil company PT Best was about to destroy Borneo’s Seruyan Forest, she thought all was lost. Then she met ecosystem entrepreneur Todd Lemons and industrialist Rusmin Widjajam. Here’s how they blended cutting-edge finance and old-fashioned moxie to outmaneuver Big Palm Oil and save the forest.


We all use palm oil every day, and nearly half the world’s supply comes from Indonesia – with devastating results for the country’s forests, wildlife, and the global climate. Fixing it is no easy matter.

Keep reading.


Mitigation News

Comment period extended for proposed rule clarifying CWA jurisdiction

Last month, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it’s extending the public comment period on a proposed rule clarifying jurisdiction over waters of the United States, until October 21, 2014. The proposed rule, developed by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, aims to provide a consistent definition of the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act, after years of muddled interpretation and ad-hoc decision-making. The EPA says the extension is in response to the volume of comments already received and signs that the rule is not being interpreted as intended. “There’s a lot of concern among agricultural interests in their states and what the industry has read into it,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters. “We need some time to get out there and, if need be, write the rule in a way so the intent is understood.”

Read the public notice.
Learn more about the proposed rule.


Study finds unequal balance between carbon stocks and species richness

While the primary objective of the market mechanism REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) is to reduce carbon emissions coming from forest loss, preserving vital habitat for wildlife was thought to be a valuable byproduct. However a new study found that forests rich in carbon that are being conserved through REDD+ don’t necessarily contain the same richness in wildlife. The mechanism may even propel species toward extinction. Research for the study took place in Antioquia, Colombia where researchers found deforestation activities simply moved from the fuller forests to the more sparse areas where a higher number of endemic species live. The study does note the overall success of REDD+ in reducing emissions and deforestation, but encourages a more comprehensive approach when selectin

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