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The Grand Experiment To Save Appalachia’s Forests

The Southeastern United States produces 12 percent of the world’s wood, pulp, and paper – fueling an economic engine that’s pulverizing forests faster than it’s restoring them. Here’s how environmental NGOs like the Dogwood Alliance are teaming up with retail giants like Staples to try and prevent that engine from overheating.

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Department Of Interior Scales Up Its Mitigation Strategy

In order to solve big picture issues like climate change and invasive species, the Department of Interior is scaling up its new approach to mitigation to a landscape level aiming to increase certainty in the process as well as improve conservation results. The Department’s report was released earlier this month. 

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Uniting People And Ecosystem Resilience For Food Security In Latin America on Earth Day

This week’s Katoomba Meeting in Lima aims to complement year-end climate talks there by focusing on how climate policy fits into the larger “landscape approach” that incorporates people, farming, forests, and water. EcoAgriculture Partners looked at more than 100 initiatives in Latin America to find out what works and what doesn’t, with surprising results.

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This Week In Biodiversity: Mitigation Policy Matures

While several from the mitigation banking space welcome the EPA and Corps’ proposed rule on clarifying waters protected under the Clean Water Act, the decision is far from final. On a separate policy front, the lesser prairie chicken has been listed under the ESA as threatened.

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Buying Hope And Time For Coral Reef

Between now and August, we’ll be examining the economic benefits of coral reefs and financing mechanisms designed to help preserve them. Here’s a look at the other side of that equation: what it costs to maintain them, and the challenge of meeting that cost through conventional means.

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Lesser Prairie Chicken Listed As Threatened Under ESA

The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced they are listing the lesser prairie chicken as threatened under the Endangered Species Act but landowners and oil and gas companies enrolled in approved voluntary conservation efforts will be exempt from ESA regulations under a special 4(d) rule.

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Palm Oil: From Plantation To Peanut Butter

Palm oil is found in hundreds of products but it’s virtually unheard of by the average consumer despite its production destroying huge swaths of forest in tropical places like Indonesia and Malaysia. But the Union of Concerned Scientists is trying to help change that by promoting awareness as a key step in achieving deforestation-free palm oil development.    

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Google Offers A View Into Forest Growth-Or Loss-In Real Time

The lack of reliable data on forests has long been a major challenge in the battle against deforestation. But a new tool powered by Google aims to provide real-time information on forest clearing and empower local communities and other stakeholders to fight back.

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Keys To Launching Successful Forest Landscape Restoration

Forest restoration has the potential to bring millions of hectares of land back to life—a move that could help protect watersheds and ensure food security. The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the IUCN are hoping their global assessment of landscape restoration projects will spur further action.

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New Paper Offers Guidance On Wetland Mitigation Banking Risks

Wetland mitigation banking is a growing industry in the US but its complexities run deep and as of right now, it lacks a proper analysis evaluating the risk facing both bankers and regulators.  But two industry analysts are making progress with a paper offering guidance on market risks. Here is a brief summary of the 22 risks the authors discuss. 

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This Week In Biodiversity: Sorting Out Federal Policy On Mitigation

The Department of Interior seeks a department-wide strategy to mitigation while the conservation banking industry argues over a controversial plan that includes a special 4(d) rule for lesser prairie chicken conservation.  Also, Ecosystem Marketplace released a briefing offering guidance to the private sector on nature-based investments. 

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Conservation Banking Becomes A Reality In Spain

Spain’s new Environmental Assessment Act, passed late last year, has big implications for conservation banking.  David Alvarez Garcia of the Spanish organization, Mercados de Medio Ambiente, which focuses on market based biodiversity conservation solutions, briefly explains his take on the new rule. 

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Department of Interior Seeks A More Inclusive and Effective Mitigation Policy

The Department of Interior is attempting to establish a department wide mitigation strategy that will protect natural resources as the US prepares for an expected rise in development projects on public land. The new strategy aims to streamline the mitigation process with better coordination between the different sectors involved. 

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FWS Revises Rule On Lesser Prairie Chicken Conservation To Include WAFWA Plan

A new plan seeking inclusion into the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s special rule proposal on lesser prairie chicken (as opposed to greater prairie chicken) conservation is facing opposition from some in the conservation banking sector who argue the plan’s voluntary program that relies on untested methods will not deliver needed results. 

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Wetlands Carbon Credits Could Swim Into California Market

After overseeing the creation of a wetlands restoration methodology for the Mississippi Delta, the American Carbon Registry and partners are developing a new carbon offset protocol to quantify greenhouse gas emissions reductions from the restoration of California deltaic and coastal wetlands and turn those into credits for both the voluntary and the state compliance markets.

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Spain’s New Environment Policy Opens The Door To Conservation Banking

Late last month, the Spanish government ratified a new Environmental Assessment Act. Among the changes is the inclusion of conservation banking as a compensatory tool to ensure the country can achieve a no-net loss of species from development projects and other land-use impacts.

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Can Conservation Banking Save The Prairie Chicken?

Its habitat fragmented and shrinking, the Lesser Prairie Chicken has seen its numbers plunge from more than 34,000 at the beginning of last year to less than 18,000 in August. Here’s how a massive mitigation banking effort aims to save the bird by preserving and re-creating large swaths of contiguous prairie to achieve a sustainable, landscape level outcome for the species. 

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This Week In Biodiversity: Ramping Up Candidate Species Conservation Incentives

New developments in the species banking sector from a case study on developing a market for gopher tortoise habitat credits to approval of a five-state incentives-based plan for the lesser-prairie chicken. Meanwhile, the debate continues over if biodiversity offsets should be permitted in the UK. And remember to support Ecosystem Marketplace with a donation to the Forest Trends campaign in the Social Entrepreneurs Challenge.

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EPA & Army Corps Propose Rulemaking On Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

The proposed rule developed jointly by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Army Corps of Engineers on the Clean Water Act (CWA)  could bring millions of acres of wetlands under the authority of the CWA.  Meanwhile, the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme (BBOP) has held three new webinars covering biodiversity offsetting in Australia and New Zealand.

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This Week In Biodiversity:
Firsts For US Wetland Banking; UK Ponders A National Offsets Program

The UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has released a green paper on nationwide biodiversity offsets, although the paper has met with criticism from environmental groups arguing offsets should only be used as a last resort after other options have been exhausted. In the US, a land swap in Minnesota between the government and an environmental investment firm could create the country’s largest wetland mitigation bank.

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This Week in Biodiversity: Australia’s Got Some Good News, and Some Bad News…

Australia streamlines biodiversity offsets at the state level in New South Wales, but the national Biodiversity Fund will be defunded to the tune of $231 million as a side effect of the country moving to a floating carbon price. Meanwhile, wetlands are on everyone’s mind in the Gulf of Mexico, and a new crowdfunding platform is launched.

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A Six-Step Approach To Determining
What Can And What Cannot Be Offset

Little guidance is provided on the complex issue of biodiversity offsetting and considering which impacts are offsetable. That is why a group of thought leaders from the biodiversity space have outlined an offsetability evaluation process that determines the success and appropriateness of specific offsets.  The process was recently presented in a webinar.

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Clearer Rules On Mitigation Needed
To Boost Renewable Energy Projects

The Obama administration’s pledge to ramp up renewable energy can be accomplished only if it is in coordination with the mitigation efforts for habitat and species impacts.  But right now mitigation rules are a patchwork of good, bad, and just plain confusing. Here is a rundown on the complex state of compensatory mitigation and renewable development. 

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Colombia Takes Lead
In Latin American Biodiversity Offsetting

As Latin America’s economic prospects brighten, so does its concerns over how economic health will impact the environment. Several countries have begun to explore biodiversity offsetting, but Colombia is the first to implement rules and regulations specifically designed to support biodiversity offsetting. Here’s how they’re doing it.

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Why Disney, BP And Rio Tinto
Are Exploring Ecosystem Services

Sissel Waage of BSR (Business of Social Responsibility) discusses reasons why ecosystem services thinking is on the rise as the number of governments investing in ecosystem services initiatives and companies incorporating their environmental impacts into existing business models continue to grow.

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Peruvians Aim For Regional
Cohesion On Biodiversity Offsets

The governments of Peru, Colombia, and Chile are all facing unprecedented levels of development, much of it in environmentally sensitive and valuable areas. This week, they will be meeting with the private sector and environmentalists to hammer out an agreement on biodiversity offsetting.

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This Week In Biodiversity:
What Koontz v. St. Johns Means For Mitigation

Leaders of the mitigation banking industry believe the recent ruling on the Supreme Court case involving compensatory mitigation-Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management- will not have a negative impact on mitigation banking. Also, Forest Trends’ BBOP (Business and Biodiversity Offset Program) are hosting new webinars this month. 

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Peru Will Look For Global Commitment
On Climate Change During COP 20

It has recently been determined that the 20th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC will take place in Lima, Peru with Peru aiming for a global agreement on mitigating the impact of climate change as well as advancing adaptation strategies based on environmental compensation and natural infrastructure that will aid developing countries struggling with the effects of climate change. 

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Habitat Banking In Spain:
Moving Towards The Future

Spain has a shortage of public funds for nature and an overabundance of environmentally valuable land in private hands. It could, therefore, benefit greatly from conservation banking if the legal landscape can be adapted to recognize it. Here’s a look at the landscape and its pitfalls.

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The Natural Capital Declaration Moves
Forward With Implementation Phase

The Natural Capital Declaration (NCD) has been officially active for almost a year and is now ready to move into the second phase, which is the implementation of four commitments, focused on integrating natural capital into financial accounting, presented in the NCD Roadmap.
 

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This Week In Biodiversity: A High-Level Commitments Trio

Support for PES may be growing with new legislation in Colombia directing 1% of municipal agencies’ income to PES and an action plan created by the UK government that supports pilot projects and other initiatives. Meanwhile, the Natural Capital Declaration signatories move into the implementation phase. 

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Game Changer: The Mitigation Analyst Tool

The National Mitigation Banking Association (NMBA) has a new tool in the works that swiftly turns mounds of data into high quality information that bankers can use when assessing the mitigation industry. The tool will be available on smartphones, tablets and computers and is available only to NMBA members.  

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New Data Shows Mitigation
Banks Can Speed Approval Process

It’s been five years since the US Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers released new regulations for offsetting lost wetlands, and new data unveiled at the National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference shows that permittees that use mitigation bank credits receive permit approval more quickly than do those who use other mitigation options.

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NMEBC Video Blog
The Roles of NGOs and Mit Bankers

The National Mitigation Banking Association’s (NMBA) annual meeting is underway in New Orleans, and we’ll be having informal chats with participants as panels wrap and posting them here. So far, we’ve reviewed the past and future of mitigation banking in the US, the advent of mitigation banking in France, and the crossover between carbon and mitigation banking.

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China:
The Unappreciated Eco-Entrepreneur

We’ve all heard how China’s voracious economic growth is destroying its air, water, and forests – but few know of the country’s burgeoning market-based response, which aims to halt environmental degradation by incorporating the value of nature’s services into the production process.  EM parent Forest Trends has published an exhaustive inventory of these efforts.

 
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Replicating Policy That Works:
PES In Mexico

Since environmental services’ emergence as a concept in 1997, there have been many efforts to internalize the idea and transform theory into practice. Here, we look at the concept’s evolution into public policy in Mexico where academic literature plays a role in environmental issues and developing countries’ need for the right tools is realized. 

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This Week In Biodiversity: The Art Of Mitigation

Environmental consultants offer a new perspective on the stacking and bundling conversation as well as fresh ideas to grow wetland mitigation in New York State. Meanwhile Ecosystem Marketplace prepares for the National Mitigation and Ecosystem Banking Conference in New Orleans next month where they will offer live coverage of the event. 

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Banking on Change: Rethinking Wetland Mitigation in the State of New York

Wetland Mitigation Banking has proven to be one of the most environmentally effective and economically efficient ways of  compensating for wetland and stream loss. T.J. Mascia and Charlotte Brett say the water-rich state of New York should be a hotbed of mitigation banking activity – but isn’t. Here’s their diagnosis and prescription.

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Stacking And Unstacking:
The Conservation And The Conversation

To build ecosystem markets, we’ve tended to break holistic nature into incomplete but measurable chunks of nature – and then we wonder why it’s difficult to bundle those chunks into something holistic. Maybe instead of stacking existing credits, we should be creating more holistic instruments.

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This Week In Biodiversity: In With The New

Valorando Naturaleza, Ecosystem Marketplace’s new Spanish-language sister site, designed to bring together information on the valuation of and investments in PES in Latin America, launched this month.  Meanwhile, the US Fish and Wildlife Service have hatched a plan to handle their overload of endangered species and critical habitat determinations and bankers prepare for the National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference.

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This Week In Biodiversity: New Beginnings

The newly formed Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has wrapped up its first plenary and named its first head and a new report analyzes opportunities and barriers for biodiversity offsets in the EU. Meanwhile, PUMA has released results from its natural capital methodology and the Global Nature Fund’s Joost Baker discusses private sector engagement.