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On World Wetlands Day: The Allure And Elusiveness Of Mangroves As Carbon Sinks

Wetlands, and especially mangrove forests, sequester far more carbon per square mile than do tropical forests, and they also provide shelter for fish, protect the coast from storm surges, and keep coral reefs alive. On World Wetlands day, we examine the unappreciated value of these critical ecosystems.

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Is the Road through Poznan Paved with Voluntary Carbon?

Voluntary and regional carbon reduction initiatives continue to save tropical rainforests by using them as carbon sinks – along the way helping to define and standardize the means of measuring carbon captured in trees. The Ecosystem Marketplace takes stock of the latest developments in Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).

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Social Carbon Joins the Party

Brazilian NGO Ecológica has been promoting the social benefits of carbon projects since long before "non-carbon" attributes became fashionable. Now, with voluntary carbon offset projects being judged (and priced) as much for their impact on local communities as for their impact on carbon emissions, they’re taking their methodology global by teaming up with international market players and joining the gaggle of standards with links to registries.

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Building Biodiversity Business

Markets haven’t been kind to biodiversity – largely because its value lies outside our economic system. The Ecosystem Marketplace exists to change that, and we’re not alone. Earlier this year the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) teamed up with Shell International to examine evolving mechanisms and treaties for turning biodiversity into something markets can embrace rather than destroy.

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RGGI Results Due Monday: Are Regional Initiatives Ushering in the Forestry Age?

Regional and state climate efforts are putting forestry offsets on a fast track toward guiding US regulations aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). With the results of Thursday’s regional auction of allowances due out Monday, the Ecosystem Marketplace examines the role of forestry in two leading initiatives.

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New V-Carbon “Stamp of Approval”

Buyers of voluntary carbon offsets have no shortage of projects to choose from, but where is the line between choice and information overload? The Environmental Defense Fund says we crossed it long ago, and aims to simplify the whole process with an online list of eleven projects whose offsets it believes will stand the test of time. The Ecosystem Marketplace gives it a click.

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Is the Future of Forest Offsets Already Here?

Many environmentalists believe the carbon market has the potential to promote healthy forest management in the United States, and the Conservation Fund’s Chris Kelly argues it is happening right now under the California Climate Action Registry forest protocols. Others say the CCAR protocols will require significant changes to fulfill their promise.

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Keeping Abreast of BBOP Consultation Process

You can’t offset what you can’t measure, which is why the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP) is asking for feedback on how to calculate both the amount and type of biodiversity that a given development will destroy and the degree to which biodiversity offsets will rectify the loss. The Ecosystem Marketplace tells you how to express your views.

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The Dean of Dung is Back and Full of Gas!

Self-described "manure trader" Peter Hughes made headlines for harnessing water-quality trading to turn chicken dung into fertilizer. Now he wants to bundle payments from various ecosystem services to convert the stinking stuff to fuel for coal-fired power plants. The Ecosystem Marketplace examines the plan – and the pitfalls.

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VCS Opens Can of Registries

For nearly as long as there’s been talk of a Voluntary Carbon Standard, VCS supporters have been haggling over how to track Voluntary Carbon Units. The VCS Association says its decision to assign that task not to one but to four separate registries kept in synch via UN-designed messaging protocols will deliver the best solution – but hasn’t put the matter to rest. The Ecosystem Marketplace tells you why.

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In the Year 2035 If Ecosystem Markets Keep Man Alive

The new book Dry Spring: The Coming Water Crisis of North America, is an environmental cautionary tale with a hopeful ending delivered courtesy of ecosystem markets. Here, author Chris Wood shares with the Ecosystem Marketplace his vision of a world in which that hopeful ending is realized.

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Preserving Prairie Potholes

Ducks Unlimited has restored more than ten million acres of natural habitat, creating carbon sinks that capture untold millions of tons of carbon every year. The Ecosystem Marketplace examines DU’s latest effort to harvest those carbon credits and perhaps blend them with biodiversity offsets to restore one of North America’s most important and endangered bird habitats — and with it a peculiar geological legacy of the Ice Age.

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Chesapeake Bay Water Scheme Gains Traction

Can water markets help revive the Chesapeake Bay? Perhaps – but only if each of the six Bay states and the District of Columbia agree to recognize discharge reductions in one state as credits in another. The Ecosystem Marketplace examines a voluntary initiative led by Forest Trends and the Katoomba Group designed to do what politics-as-usual has so far failed to accomplish.

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The Matrix: Mapping Ecosystem Service Markets

The once-radical concept of saving the environment by documenting the economic value of environmental services and then getting industry to pay is finally catching on – but how is one to keep track of all the new methodologies and concepts? The Ecosystem Marketplace presents The Matrix, a new tool for surveying the ecosystem services landscape.

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Now Online: “State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2008″

OTC volume of voluntary emission offsets nearly tripled in 2007, and Ecosystem Marketplace has once again teamed up with New Carbon Finance to crunch and analyze this fascinating market. The full report is now available for download.

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Voluntary Water Markets: The Demand Dilemma

Farmers and other diffuse polluters should, in theory, welcome money from industry for voluntarily reducing their runoff – but high commodity prices and a fear of regulatory entanglement has put a lid on demand in water quality trading in the US. The Ecosystem Marketplace examines the challenge of stimulating WQT demand.

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Payments for Ecosystem Services: Download the Primer

Payments for Ecosystem Services encourage entities that benefit from ecosystem services to pay for maintaining those ecosystems – but how? At the Biodiversity Conference (COP 9) in Bonn, Germany, Forest Trends, the Katoomba Group and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have jointly unveiled a nuts-and-bolts primer designed to answer that question.

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Climate Change and Forestry: A REDD Primer

One of the most contentious issues in the debate over how to tackle climate change is the role of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) in market-based mitigation strategies. The Ecosystem Marketplace summarizes the key issues.

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US WQT: Growing Pains and Evolving Drivers

With the Global Katoomba Meeting just weeks away, the Ecosystem Marketplace continues its series on Water Quality Trading schemes around the world. In this installment, we take stock of the key drivers in the US WQT Sector. Fifth in a Series

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US Water Trading: The Infrastructure

As governments around the world experiment with market-based solutions to water pollution, they look for lessons to those who have gone before them. The Ecosystem Marketplace examines the structure of the US water trading markets, and takes stock of the lessons learned.

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Registries: Tracking the Trades

In the classic comedy The Producers, an unscrupulous businessman sells one product to scores of investors, each of whom believes they are the sole owner. In ecosystem markets, we call that "double counting" – and it’s what registries have been set up to prevent. The Ecosystem Marketplace takes stock of carbon credit registries in the voluntary markets.

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Ugandan Water Markets: What Businesses Know (and Don’t)

Water markets can help provide a solution to Uganda’s looming water crisis – but only if buyers understand the stakes and the dynamics. Alice Ruhweza, East and Southern Africa Katoomba Group Coordinator, says Ugandan water users understand the crisis but haven’t yet explored market-based solutions. The Ecosystem Marketplace summarizes her findings.

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Water Trading: The Basics

Water trading has been hailed as the "next carbon", and schemes for valuing and trading both water usage and water "inputs" are proliferating across North and South America, Asia, and Africa. The Ecosystem Marketplace reviews the fundamentals of this promising ecosystem market.

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Mitigation of Impacts to Fish and Wildlife Habitat

Every year, human activities cause significant – but often unaccounted – harm to fish and wildlife habitat and the environment. Now a new report from the Environmental Law Institute examines laws and programs that can require monetary or in-kind compensation for these impacts.

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Recovery Credits: Protection or Passing the Buck?

The US federal government has implemented a new scheme that pays private landowners to conserve species currently finding sanctuary on federal lands. Though similar to existing mitigation banking programs, critics say the new scheme lacks the controls needed to be effective. The Ecosystem Marketplace takes a hard look at the new market for Recovery Credits.

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WWF Guide to Voluntary Carbon Standards

The voluntary carbon market has spawned more than twenty offset standards over the past year – enough to keep even the most diligent market participants feeling a bit overwhelmed. WWF has responded with a 105-page guide to the ten standards that have been around the longest, and the Ecosystem Marketplace takes stock of their efforts.

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The Thin Wet Line: Local and Global Ecosystem Markets

Carbon markets are off to the races around the globe, and wetland mitigation banking has shown it can deliver value in local cases. How do we take lessons from both worlds? How do we balance commoditizing ecosystem services with the reality that local people care deeply about these natural resources they depend on? For ecosystem service markets to move beyond a cheaper way to deliver regulatory compliance and drive us toward sustainability, they must become an integrated part of a larger ecosystem services arena. Bobby Cochran of Oregon’s Clean Water Services examines this issue through the lens of wetland mitigation banks.

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Painting the Town REDD: Merrill Lynch Inks Massive Voluntary Forest Deal

In a major demonstration of confidence in the viability of voluntary carbon offsets as a strategic investment, Merrill Lynch is raising equity for a 100-million-ton, for-profit avoided deforestation project in Aceh, Indonesia. Tellingly for the future of the forestry market, the decision to take the plunge had more to do with the cultural and biodiversity benefits than with the carbon itself. The Ecosystem Marketplace examines the deal and its significance.

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Analysis: Why saving the world’s rainforests is good for the climate and the US economy

The 13th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 13) is more than a month behind us, but plenty of debate lies ahead as advocates and opponents of using forestry to combat climate change air their opinions in the lead up to COP 14 later this year in Poland and COP 15 next year in Denmark. Jeff Horowitz and Robert O’Sullivan of Avoided Deforestation Partners take stock of the Bali Roadmap and what it means for avoided deforestation.

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Mbaracay: Lessons in Avoiding Deforestation

Nearly two decades ago, a small Paraguayan NGO teamed up with a global environmental NGO and a mid-sized American energy provider to save a chunk of rainforest from the sawmills by offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. The Ecosystem Marketplace revisits one of the world’s first carbon offset projects: the Mbaracayú Forest Nature Reserve. Second in a three-part series.

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Ecosystem Farming

Following its success with an innovative "Working for Water" program, South Africa has begun experimenting with a whole new approach to conservation and restoration; an approach that has scientists "mapping" ecosystem services and land-users "farming" them. The Ecosystem Marketplace takes a closer look at these recent developments and considers whether or not "trading" will be the next new verb for ecosystem services in the RSA.

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The BioCarbon Fund

In keeping with its track record as an innovator of carbon markets, the World Bank recently launched the BioCarbon Fund, a fund designed to deliver cost-effective certificates of emission reductions while promoting additional social and environmental benefits, including land restoration, biodiversity conservation, and the improvement of local livelihoods. Benoit Bosquet tells us about this new fund and about some of the lessons the World Bank has learned in its four years of experience with carbon markets.

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California Leading: New Thinking on Carbon Accounting

For four years California has been quietly developing a set of greenhouse gas emission accounting standards and a climate registry. Now it has come up with ideas on how to measure and account for the climate impact of forests. This work could one day have repercussions on carbon trading across the US and the world. The Ecosystem Marketplace takes a closer look.

New Regulations could mean Big Business for US Mitigation Bankers?

A bill passed by the US Congress calls on the US Army Corps of Engineers to prepare new regulations on wetlands mitigation and mitigation banking, regulations that could mean huge increases in business for mitigation bankers in the US. One observer calls these new regulations ‘the most significant piece of legislation to come out in the short-lived history of the mitigation banking industry.

The BioCarbon Fund

In keeping with its track record as an innovator of carbon markets, the World Bank recently launched the BioCarbon Fund, a fund designed to deliver cost-effective certificates of emission reductions while promoting additional social and environmental benefits, including land restoration, biodiversity conservation, and the improvement of local livelihoods. Benoit Bosquet tells us about this new fund and about some of the lessons the World Bank has learned in its four years of experience with carbon markets.

Conservation Banking: Moving Beyond California

The creation of ‘conservation banks’ may be changing the way private landowners in the US view endangered species and their habitat. In an article commissioned by The Ecosystem Marketplace, Jessica Fox draws some lessons from the experience of conservation banking in California and uses this information to predict where there may be further growth in the practice.

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Carbon Sinks and Emissions Trading: Room for Optimism?

On May 11, 2005, in Cologne, Germany, the Ecosystem Marketplace, in conjunction with its various partners, held the second in a series of "Katoomba Dialogues" on markets for ecosystem services. The dialogue, entitled "That Sinking Feeling; Carbon Sinks and Emissions Trading," highlighted the arguments both for and against the inclusion of forestry-related carbon sinks in emissions trading schemes. A number of interesting issues were raised during the discussion and the lively conversation ended, for the most part, on an optimistic note. Below is an edited transcript of the dialogue. The Ecosystem Marketplace will be holding more dialogues in the months and years to come; always around a contentious or controversial issue surrounding markets for ecosystem services.

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Beartooth Capital Redefines Ranchland

Beartooth Capital is pioneering a new relationship between private equity and land conservation in the Western United States. The Ecosystem Marketplace finds out why.

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Payments for Ecosystem Services in Rural Africa

More and more agencies are expressing interest in the concept of payments for ecosystem services (PES) in rural Africa. The Ecosystem Marketplace finds out whether or not they are on to something.

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Partners in Conservation: EIP Pioneers New Model

Ecosystem Investment Partners is re-writing the book on land conservation. The Ecosystem Marketplace finds out what the men behind the new business have to say about the synergies they see between conservation and investment returns in the United States.

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Diving into Water Markets

In order to get a stronger sense of how water markets and market-based mechanisms work in practice, the Ecosystem Marketplace has compiled in this volume selected articles from its website focused on aspects of the emerging water markets on critical issues such as the nuts and bolts of water trading schemes, and on the challenge of creating demand in voluntary trading markets.

Brazil's Unpaid Guardians

Mary Allegretti, an anthropologist and professor of Sustainable Development, tells the Ecosystem Marketplace why she thinks Brazil is ready for a revolution built around payments for ecosystem services.

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Redefining 'Wealth'

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) gathered ecologists, economists and a hearty alphabet soup's worth of non-profit organizations and environmental conventions for a meeting at the London School of Economics from October 10-12. Their task: weaving ecosystem services like water filtration, climate control and the benefits of biological diversity (pest control, crop pollination, nutrient cycling etc.) into the economics of sustainable development. The Ecosystem Marketplace spotlights UNEP's push to spread the new economy of nature in the developing world.

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Carbon and Avoided Deforestation: The Road to Bali

Indonesia has the dubious distinction of being both a world-champion deforester and one of the countries most likely to suffer from climate change – all-in-all, a perfect location for December's Climate Change Conference in Bali, where a central question will be whether to grant emission reduction credits for saving existing forests. In this first of three stories, the Ecosystem Marketplace talks to advocates and opponents of using 'avoided deforestation' for offsetting carbon emissions.

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Halting the Plunder Down Under

Real innovation sometimes arises from tweaking a model, not designing it from scratch. The Ecosystem Marketplace follows the path of an American conservation model across the ocean to New South Wales and discovers how the ever-innovative Aussies are adapting mitigation banking to suit their needs.

First CCB Standard Projects Approved

First Two Projects Approved using 'CCB Standards' Demonstrate Holistic Approach
Towards Benefiting Global Climate, Local Communities and Biodiversity

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BBOP Jazzes Up Conservation in Curitiba

The recent Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Brazil took a hard look at the intersection of business and biodiversity around the world. The Ecosystem Marketplace finds out about one of the hottest topics on offer: biodiversity offsets.

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REDD Hot in Bali – and Very Confusing

Most people attending the Climate Change Conference in Bali agree: avoided deforestation, often referred to as REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), will play a role in whatever regime replaces the Kyoto Protocol once it expires in 2012. But as the Ecosystem Marketplace finds out, the devil – and debate – is in the details.