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We Killed Off Half of Animal Life in Four Decades. Now What?

Ecosystem Marketplace

The future of the proposed rule clarifying jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act is still unclear as its public comment period is once again extended. Meanwhile, a World Wildlife Fund study sadly finds humans are responsible for half of wildlife loss in the last 40 years and the world is far from reaching the Aichi Biodiversity Targets by 2020.

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

17 October 2014 | | Greetings!

A year ago, the US EPA released a scientific report underpinning a new EPA-Corps proposed rule clarifying where the Clean Water Act (CWA) has jurisdiction over some long-contested types of waterbodies.

The rule could vastly speed up in some cases the permitting process for activities impacting waterbodies, since there will no longer be any question about which waterbodies are covered under the CWA. Many in the mitigation banking community welcome the changes.

But the new rule is proving to be contentious, viewed by many as an overreach that would regulate “mud puddles.” A public comments period was extended for the second time on Tuesday, to November 14th. The government will also be seeking public comment on the scientific basis for the rule. Meanwhile the House has passed legislation blocking EPA from implementing the rule, which the President has vowed to veto. And EPA and the Corps will also need to respond to a request by the Small Business Administrationto conduct a review panel looking at impacts on small business before moving any further.

We’ll keep you updated on new developments. In the meantime, here’s the news.

Overall, it was a discouraging month for many in the conservation world, following the report that we’ve killed off half of all animal life on the planet in the last forty years, and that the world is way off track to meet the Aichi Targets for biodiversity by 2020.

Australia is still pondering updates to offset and compensation policies at the national and state levels, while in Canada, British Columbia is ready for its own offset policy. Mining companies in South Africa and the Republic of Congo are moving forward on offset projects.

Two recent legal developments – over impact assessment requirements for grazing permits in sage grouse territory, and a District Court judge upholding a decision not to list the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard – may have implications for candidate species.

We also wanted to remind you to take a look at our jobs and events listings at the end of this news brief. The National Mitigation Banking Association is hiring an Executive Director. Registration deadlines for the 7th National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration and ACES 2014 conference are also coming up fast.

Cheers,

€The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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

 

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Biodiversity And Climate Conventions Find Common Ground In Sustainable Forest ManagementHeru Prasetyo seems to be everywhere these days. He was a fixture at last year’s Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, COP 19, where he provided what may have been the most eloquent advocacy on behalf of the emerging landscape approach to using carbon finance to Reduce greenhouse gas Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD). The landscapes approach recognizes the value that carbon brings to the table as a quantified environmental currency, but it emphasizes the fact than any effort to save forests must encompass all social, economic and environmental aspects of an ecosystem.Specifically, he says, to save Indonesia’s forests the country must completely restructure its agriculture sector, and REDD finance should be targeted to activities that do just that.

Earlier this week, he updated delegates to this year’s 12th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity on the role of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) in Indonesia’s REDD efforts and the emerging link between SFM and biodiversity conservation.

Keep reading here.
Fixing Water By Fixing Land: What Works And What Doesn’t

It seems that a lot of money is spent every year on mitigation programs that deliver less than stellar results. According to a 2007 study from the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), nearly $4 billion is spent on land restoration and protection through mitigation annually. This money has obvious potential to contribute to conservation but perhaps lacks the guidance to do so effectively.

To help with this aspect of the problem, The Nature Conservancy and ELI recently published the Watershed Approach Handbook: Improving Outcomes and Increasing Benefits Associated with Wetland and Stream Restoration and Protection Projects. Through on-the-ground pilot projects sponsored by the two organizations, as well as EPA and the Corps, the handbook demonstrates how a watershed approach contributes to flood mitigation, better water quality and quantity and species habitat among other ecosystem services.

Learn more.
Green Food Key To Success At Global Biodiversity Talks

Four years ago, the Convention on Biological Diversity set 20 goals for itself. Known collectively as the Aichi Targets, they focused more on ways to tweak our economic system to take the pressure off of fragile habitat than on grandiose but groundless numerical achievements. Many of those targets are now closer than they appear.

Get the story here.

 

 

Mitigation NewsWith Six Years Left, Aichi Targets Going BeggingFour years out, the news regarding meeting all the Aichi Targets (biodiversity conservation goals 194 nations agreed to meet by 2020) on deadline is dismal. A report released during the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, found that there are major funding gaps in every world region. Investments in the space aren’t sufficient to achieve the targets.

The report doesn’t just bring bad news, however. While the proper funds are lacking, the commitment to biodiversity conservation isn’t. And this report, authored by the High-Level Panel on Global Assessment of Resources for Implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, aims to help governments make good on their commitment. The report acts as a guide for developing effective financial investment plans. “We hope that this report will allow parties to move forward on actions at the national level as well as the Convention level that are consistent with the political commitment of the Aichi targets, says the Chair of the panel.

Read more.
Credit for Trying?

Fast Company’s Co.Exist reports on more good and bad news for global biodiversity. The bad news first: humans have killed off half the natural world in the last 40 years. That’s according to a World Wildlife Fund report. Another study found people are making very little headway on achieving the Aichi Targets by 2020. Even so human awareness on biodiversity issues is increasing, the same study noted, indicating potential progress in the years ahead. More areas are being protected. More research is being performed and natural capital accounting continues to edge closer to the mainstream.

Read more at Fast Company.
BLM Soon to Face a Slew of Suits over Grazing Permits in Sage Grouse Territory?

A side discussion in a recent ruling that the US Bureau of Land Management violated environmental review laws in issuing grazing permits in sage grouse habitat is shaping up to inspire new lawsuits across the West. Three pages in a decison on whether BLM violated the law in issuing grazing permits on four allotments in Idaho focused on a 2003 Congressional rider that the BLM used to justify issuing grazing permits elsewhere with no environmental impact analysis. The judge’s ruling that BLM incorrectly used the rider to issue as many as 600 permits without impact assessment is a “clear shot across the bow of the BLM,” said Todd Tucci, an attorney for Advocates for the West, who represented the Western Watersheds Project in the case.

The Capitol Press has coverage.
BC Looking to Make it Legal with Habitat Banks

The British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations recently published a tender seeking proposals to develop a policy options paper for habitat banking in the province. Proposals are due November 10th with a February 20th 2015 goal for a final report. “Although there are examples of using public or Crown land for habitat banking purposes in other jurisdictions, this is not a land use for which the province of B.C. has developed a policy framework,” the tender says. “In order to equitably and consistently consider requests for using Crown land for this purpose, the ministry is interested in developing such a policy.”

Learn more.
Are ‘Non-Duplication’ Amendments to Australia’s Offsets Act Twice as Complicated?

One concern about Australia’s 2014 Environmental Offsets Act has been that a potential exists for duplicate offset requirements to emerge from different levels of government (Commonwealth, State, or local). A recent bill introduced into Parliament in late August proposes a set of amendments that would clarify the offset process and restrict government from imposing conditions that would result in duplicate offset requirements. However, recent legal analysis suggests that for a number of reasons, the proposed amendments may actually make it harder to demonstrate duplication.

Get analysis from HopgoodGanim (via Lexology).
On Chicken Futures and Lizard Listings

Defenders of Wildlife challenge to the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s decision to withdraw a proposed listing of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard has been rejected by a District Court. Instrumental in the judge’s decision to uphold FWS’ decision were Candidate Conservation Agreements in New Mexico and Teaxs and conservation mechanisms in a BLM Resource Management Plan Amendment.

Read more.
Roundup

  • Wildlands’ Lytle Creek Conservation Bank in California’s San Bernardino County, which will provide credits for San Bernardino kangaroo rat and Santa Ana River woollystar habitat, was recently approved by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • 2700 acres of riverfront and wetlands in Rankin County Mississippi, originally acquired for development as a wetland mitigation bank for the Mississippi Department of Transportation, will be transferred from state control to non-profit management.
  • Westervelt’s Canoe Creek Mitigation Bank in St. Clair County, Alabama, has been approved to provide wetland and stream credits in the Middle Coosa watershed.
  • American Timberlands Company’s Carter Stilley Wetland & Stream Mitigation Bank in South Carolina’s Horry and Georgetown counties was approved by the Corps.
  • Anyone want to field this one? Cincinnati-area developers, faced with $34,000 credit prices, are asking why they can’t just give wetland mitigation money to sewer districts instead.
  • A 600-acre wetland preserve in New York developed by Applied Ecological Services is now home to a plethora of vulnerable species and has been nominated for a New York Important Bird Area.

 

Facing Public Fury, Coal of Africa Limited Comes Back with an Offset Deal

A nearly $5M biodiversity offset agreement was inked earlier this month between South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), South African National Parks (SANParks) and Coal of Africa Limited (CoAL). Under its terms, CoAL will fund conservation efforts in the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site to offset impacts from its Vele colliery in Limpopo province. The deal was developed independently by DEA, SANParks, and CoAL – South Africa at present has no legal framework for biodiversity offsetting. CoAL has faced strong opposition from environmentalists over the Vele mining permit, including from UNESCO.

Learn more.
The Restoration Connection

Those interested in ongoing coastal restoration activities in Louisiana may find themselves spending a lot of time on the new website, OurCoastOurEconomy.org. The site, launched by the NGO Environmental Defense Fund, offers resources on restoration-related economics, policy, news and research. Geared for policymakers, private sector leaders and the media, the site intends to provide data on the direct link between the state’s coastal restoration and business growth throughout the Gulf region and the nation.

Learn more.
Wetland Crimes Lead to Wetland Fines

An oil and gas company operating in West Virginia didn’t have a federal permit when it impounded streams and dumped rocks and sand into wetlands polluting the waterways. Because of this, the company is now required to carry out restoration activities in the state under a consent decree, with an estimated $13M bill. This includes a $3M penalty that the company, Trans Energy, will pay for violating the Clean Water Act. Trans Energy is also required to create a strategy including a compensatory mitigation plan to ensure future compliance.

Read a USEPA press release.
A Policy Wind Shift in New South Wales

Changes in biodiversity laws may be coming to Australia’s New South Wales. The state is undergoing an independent review led by environmental economists that argue farmers and other landowners should be compensated for conservation and preservation that saves endangered species. Conservationists worry the review will weaken existing environmental regulations. But supporters of these stewardship payments argue the existing laws to protect biodiversity were a deterrent for conservation. Farmers may have held off on informing officials of endangered species habitat on their land to avoid regulations.

Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald.
In Idaho, $40M for Habitat Mitigation from Hydro

A new deal between the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the state of Idaho will see BPA channeling $40M to the Idaho Department of Fish & Game over ten years to habitat projects mitigating for hydropower impacts. The agreement settles BPA’s obligations for development of the Southern Idaho Palisades, Black Canyon, Minidoka and Anderson Ranch dams, and operational impacts of Deadwood Dam in Southern Idaho. $22M is earmarked for acquisition and restoration of an estimated 8,588 acres, $14M for long-term management of already-protected lands, and $4M for administrativeoverhead.

Learn more at the Spokesman-Review.
Miners versus Loggers for the Fate of the Guineo-Congolian Forest

Mining and biodiversity are not usually dear friends. But a massive mine project in Africa’s largest iron ore deposit in the Republic of Congo is following a careful process of social and environmental impact assessments to ensure the project won’t disrupt rich biodiversity in the area. The question is whether it will be enough. A second threat to the region’s forests and wildlife comes in the form of three Asian logging companies currently unwilling to negotiate over their deforesting activities, causing serious damage to the forest and its inhabitants – and possibly undoing all the Zanaga Iron Ore Company’s good work.

Mongabay has coverage.
Vying over the Right Choice

Biodiversity offsetting in Latin America is moving forward despite strong opposition. And those opposing have been vocal. Several leaders in the field question the effectiveness of offsetting – i.e. if it will actually deliver results equal or greater to than what was destroyed – and the commodification of nature. There is also a concern if the mechanism could cause environmental destruction to increase.

But Latin American nations are losing their natural lands fast, and an effective method to ensure no further loss is needed. Supporters argue valuing biodiversity monetarily increases opportunities of sustainable management and offsetting programs ensure the ecological equivalence of offsets. Six countries including Brazil, Peru and Mexico, have some biodiversity offsetting system in place.

 Keep reading.
JOBS
Executive Director

National Mitigation Banking Association Washington DC, USA

Established in 1998, the National Mitigation Banking Association is the nation’s leading voice for the rapidly growing private sector restoration industry. After 16 years of promoting federal legislation and regulatory policy that encourages mitigation banking as a means of compensating for adverse impacts to our nation’s environment, the Association is moving to increase its effectiveness and reach by hiring a full-time Executive Director.

The successful candidate for this position will manage day-to-day operations of the organization, coordinate and support the Board of Directors, and lead public policy and advocacy activities in Washington, D.C. As energy, infrastructure and other development projects continue to impact American land and water on which we all depend, having strong and consistent standards for compensatory mitigation that enable and encourage private investment in conservation and restoration is essential. The Association and its 87 corporate and non-profit members advocate for good public policy that works for both business and the environment, and we encourage candidates with a proven track record of engagement in these issues to apply.

Learn more here.
EVENTS
Webinar: Making Blue Carbon Work: Building Blue Carbon Projects and the GEF Blue Forests Project

The Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) Tools Network and OpenChannels.org are pleased to announce that they will host a webinar on Making Blue Carbon Work: Building Blue Carbon Projects and the GEF Blue Forests Project by Steven Lutz and Christian Neumann of GRID-Arendal. Blue carbon projects can work! A new report entitled Building Blue Carbon Projects: An Introductory Guide showcases how using the value of carbon stored and sequestered in marine and coastal ecosystems can support conservation and sustainable management. This report aims to stimulate the discussion around projects that use a blue carbon approach, while also highlighting common blue carbon project elements and key issues from existing projects. Presented within the report are several case studies, including the Global Environment Facility’s Blue Forests Project. This four-year global project is in its inception phase and aims to demonstrate how the values of carbon and other ecosystem services can be used to stimulate improved and sustainable ecosystem management. The project will be discussed in further detail in this webinar. The presentation will be held Tuesday, November 25, at Noon US EST/9 am US PST/5 pm GMT. [Online] 25 November 2015.

Learn more here.
7th National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration and 24th Biennial Meeting of The Coastal Society

Restore Americas Estuaries and The Coastal Society are proud to announce a new collaboration to present the first ever National Summit that will bring together the restoration and coastal management communities for an integrated discussion to explore issues, solutions and lessons learned. Be part of the largest gathering of the coastal restoration and management community in over 10 years! Online registration deadline is October 17th. 1-6 November 2014. Washington DC, USA.

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.Early registration deadline is October 22nd. 8-11 December 2014. Washington DC, USA. 

 Learn more here.
2015 National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference

The 2015 National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference, scheduled for May 5-8, 2015, in Orlando, Florida is the only national conference that brings together key players in this industry, and offers quality hands-on sessions and training as well as important regulatory updates. Proven to be “the” place to gain insights, explore new markets and learn from sessions, the 2015 Conference will continue its focus on educational content  both advanced and basic sessions as well as moderated exchanges and a variety of mini workshops that help to connect bankers, regulators, users and others involved in this industry. Pre and post- event workshops include Primer 101, Stream Banking, Long-Term Stewardship, Financing & Valuation and more. Hear perspectives from bankers, regulators and users, get updated on regulations, legislation and legal challenges, participate in field trips and benefit from the many opportunities to network! With a high attendance this past year, we anticipate a record attendance in Orlando and encourage you to make plans to submit to present, attend, even sponsor or exhibit! Orlando FL, USA. 5-8 May 2015.

Learn more here.

 

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