News Articles

This Week in Biodiversity: Everyone’s Making Headlines

The National Mitigation Banking Conference was not the only thing making headlines this past month in biodiversity.  Biodiveristy news popped up all over the place, from the US to Australia to the Caucacus.  Read on for the full details in this month’s Mitigation Mail.

NOTE: This article has been reprinted from Ecosystem Marketplace’s Mitigation Mail newsletter. You can receive this summary of global news and views from the world of biodiversity automatically in your inbox here.

14 May 2011 | Last week, US mitigation banking stakeholders gathered at the National Mitigation Banking Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Some of the hot topics of the conference included the implementation of the 2008 final rule on compensatory mitigation, the effect of the economy and reduced federal budget on the mitigation banking industry, whether new wetland regulation guidelines would increase demand for mitigation banking, and continued frustration with data transparency from regulators. Keep your eye out on the Ecosystem Marketplace main page, where we’ll be covering these and other topics at the forefront of US biodiversity market development.

Outside of the US, we’ve just learned that the European Commission has incorporated new language on ‘no net loss’ into their EU biodiversity strategy related to meeting the 2020 goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

We are in the middle of collecting information on biodiversity market drivers around the world for a 2011 Update of the State of Biodiversity Markets, set to launch next month. Through the end of the month, Ecosystem Marketplace will assemble a coalition of sponsors for the 2011 report. Read more about sponsorship opportunities for the State of Biodiversity Markets: 2011 Update, or contact Becca Madsen for more information.

Finally, check out the upcoming AFF/WRI conference Ecosystem Markets: Making them Work (June 29-July 1, Madison, Wisconsin) to share experience in environmental markets with other US market participants.

Read on for the latest on incentives for biodiversity conservation around the world.
—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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

News

Roundtable Aims at Cohesion in New Zealand and Australia

Roundtable discussions, convened by Australia’s National Environmental Law Association and New Zealand’s Resource Management Law Association are aiming to improve cohesion between biodiversity market mechanisms both across and between the two countries. The Environmental Law Roundtable of Australia and New Zealand represents a high-level push for full stakeholder engagement and coordination, and it’s happening remarkably early in the game compared to other countries’ biodiversity compensation policies.

Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace

What Part of “No Net Loss” Does Alberta Not Understand?

The Canadian province of Alberta is chopping up its countryside to extract valuable oilsands, and its longstanding wetland policy of “no net loss” means that oil companies should be offsetting the damage by restoring wetlands across the province.

But recently, the government decided to re-evaluate its policy and determined that “no net loss” only applied to settled areas, or the ‘White’ zone, not to the vast amount of Crown (public) lands in Alberta which account for approximately 60% of the province, or the ‘Green’ zone. Finalized regulations come out in 2011 or 2012, but ‘Green zone’ wetlands are unprotected til then – and it’s not looking good in the long term either.

Ecosystem Marketplace has the story

UPDATE: Florida Ruling Supports Water Quality Trading

A US federal judge in Florida has ruled in favor of the federal EPA’s plan to impose numeric limits on the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen running into the Everglades. It’s not only a victory for the Everglades, but could open the door to innovative water-quality trading mechanisms down the road.

Read more at Ecosystem Marketp

Proposed EU Biodiversity Strategy Supports Species Banking

The European Commission on Tuesday approved a new strategy for reversing biodiversity loss by 2020, in part by recognizing the economic value of nature’s services. The new strategy lays the groundwork for species banking across the European Union, but must first be approved by the European Council.

Read more at Ecosystem Marketp

US Aims to Expand Wetland Protection

US Supreme Court decisions of the past decade have left wetland regulations unclear and unenforced. New clean water guidance from the Obama administration aims to provide clarity and expand enforcement while not contradicting the decisions. The result could be improved protection of drinking water – and expanded use of markets to aid that protection.

Read more at Ecosystem Marketp


Mitigation News

Rio 2012 Earth Summit outcomes vital for good transition

20 years after the first Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro another meeting is set to occur in the Brazilian city 2012. The meeting will focus on the transition to a ‘green economy’. Victor Anderson, in his ‘Good Transition’ blog for the Guardian, writes about the legacy of the 1992 Earth Summit, and why the 2012 Summit is so important in transitioning toward an environmentally sustainable future.

Read more here

EU Biodiversity Bullseye

Back in 2001 the EU pledged to reverse biodiversity loss by 2010. The plan fell far short of its goals, despite the implementation of a number of EU wide policies, such as Natura 2000, the worlds largest network of protected areas. The EU announced its new plan to halt and reverse biodiversity loss on the 3rd of May. Reflecting the EU’s interest in ecosystem services, the plan is called “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020”, and relies heavily on the concepts of ‘natural capital’ and ‘ecosystem services’. The communication released by the European Commission calls for the use of innovative financing in funding the effort, including payments for ecosystem services. 2020 is set as a headline target to have achieved six targets, each having a number of concrete deliverables, such as restoring at least 15 % of degraded ecosystems. The EU hopes the targets will be enough to reach their own mandate and the mandate set by the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Read more here
And here
And read the Commission’s communication here

Launch of Guide to Corporate Ecosystem Valuation (CEV)

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBSCD) has released the Guide to Corporate Ecosystem Valuation (CEV), a set of guidelines that will help companies better understand how their business practices impact, and are impacted by, ecosystem services. A collaboration between Environmental Resources Management, the World Resources Institute, International Union for Conservation of Nature, and Price Waterhouse Coopers, the WBSCD sees this guide as “operationalizing” the information found in last year’s TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) reports. The guide was road-tested with 14 companies, including high profile names like Rio Tinto and Hitachi.

Read about the guide here
Access the guide here

Government gives £25M boost to global wildlife initiative

The Darwin project, under the United Kingdom’s Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, has received an additional £25 million to support its projects around the world. 728 Darwin projects have been established around the world in areas of concentrated biodiversity that are under threat since the Rio Convention in 1992. The £25 million will be delivered over the next four years and new bids for the latest round of funding are now open.

Read funding for the Darwin project here

How to Save the Endangered Species (Act)

There’s a spirited debate over at the New York Times on how to improve endangered species protections in the US. Habitat destruction and climate change are pushing a number of species closer to the brink of extinction. But they likely won’t make it on the federal endangered species list any time soon: the US Fish and Wildlife Service says it’s overwhelmed with a backlog of petitions, and has even asked Congress to legally limit the amount of resources the agency can put toward processing the petitions, to free up funds for other conservation efforts.

 

The debaters assembled include a number of environmental law professors and think-tankers and their suggestions range from “Look at species in groups – categorized by ecosystem, say, or by common threats,” (Lisa Heinzerling of Georgetown University) to “Blame the partisan environmentalists!” (Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute).

Read coverage here

EU Looks to Link Farm Subsidies to Biodiversity Protection

The European Commission will release a policy paper on May 4 that sets out a framework for linking agricultural aid to biodiversity protection. The paper represents concrete steps to meet the EU’s new goal of halting biodiversity loss by 2020. Up to 60 percent of EU farmland will be subject to the proposed rules, which would require them to implement environmentally-friendly agricultural practices in exchange for continued subsidies; meanwhile, fisheries will have much stricter catch shares. National governments will also be expected to put a total of €6 billion toward conservation at ‘Natura 2000’ sites.

Learn more here

Big Bucks in US Ecotourism

A new piece in Harvard Magazine sets the record straight on the value of ecotourism to the economy. “Americans spent more than $120 billion hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching in 2006,” the article points out. “That’s more than the Super Bowl. It’s more than professional football. It’s more than was spent on all spectator sports, amusement parks, casinos, bowling alleys, and ski slopes combined.” As for the argument that nature reserves erode a local tax base, it turns out that wildlife watching delivers around $9 billion annually in state and local tax revenues – plus all of the other ecosystem service benefits from those natural areas, like water purification and carbon sequestration.

Read more here

Europe’s Wildlife Under Threat from Nitrogen, Study Warns

Nitrogen deposits from Europe’s agricultural sector is threatening biodiversity found in the Natura 2000 network, a collection of protected sites throughout the continent. More than 60% of the the sites receive unsustainable levels of airborne nitrogen pollution, impacting both animal and plant wildlife. A team of scientists, conservation and environmental managers and policy makers from across Europe, coordinated by the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York are recommending policies and actions that will limit the amount of aerial nitrogen pollution across Europe from agriculture.

Read more here

CEMEX Reports Progress on Biodiversity Commitments

CEMEX has released its 2010 Sustainable Development Report, with good news for biodiversity. The building materials company has partnered with BirdLife International on a scoping study of impacts to biodiversity from cement and aggregates operations. CEMEX also announced that it is on track to meet its target of developing biodiversity rehabilitation plans for 100% of its quarries by 2015.

Download a copy of CEMEX’s 2010 Sustainable Development Report here
Read a summary of report highlights here

Avon Products, Inc. Marks Earth Month with New “Palm Oil Promise” to Continue Mission to Help End Deforestation

Avon, maker of cosmetic products, have pledged to only use palm oil certified by the Roundable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The new “Palm Oil Promise” will use the GreenPalm credit system, which uses tradeable credits to ensure that can be sold by palm oil producers certified by the RSPO as sustainable. Palm oil expansion, particularly in Southeast Asia, has led to habitat destruction that threatens biodiversity. Greenpeace brought attention to the issue with this slightly disturbing ad (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QV1t-MvnCrA) targeted at food producer Nestle. Avon dodged the bullet by getting on the RSPO train.

Read more about the “Promise” here

Brazil’s Cerrado Savanna Open for Agribusiness

Did you know that a third of Brazil’s biodiversity is found in its tropical savanna, the Cerrado, which according to the World Wide Fund for nature is biologically the richest savanna in the world? Apparently the Brazilian government doesn’t. As a Yale 360 post points out, the Cerrado gets little attention compared to the neighboring Amazon rain forest. Only two percent of the savanna is protected, and nearly 60 percent has already been converted for agriculture, with the rest under serious threat; as the piece notes, “Brazilian agriculturalists and ministers still talk as if it had no conservation value at all.”

Read about biodiversity on the Cerrado here

5M Euro Smackers for Biodiversity in the Caucacus

The German government has just announced that it’s partnering with corporate sponsors HSBC Armenia, ProCredit Bank Georgia, Nina Hovnanian Couture, and the Bank of Georgia to provide 5 million Euros in funding for protection of natural areas in Georgia, Armenia, and possibly Azerbaijan. The money will be channeled through the Caucasus Nature Fund and the Georgian and Armenian governments, and is expected to increase protected area land coverage in the region from 100,000 ha in 2010 to 400,000 ha by 2013.

Read the UNEP/CBD press release here

NZ: Biodiversity policy a ‘timebomb’

Councillors in New Zealand’s Waitaki District are concerned that proposed national-level conservation law, the National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity, could affect the planning of new agricultural development. The law would require councils to undertake the assessment of conservation values within their districts and enact plans to ensure no net loss of areas deemed valuable.

Read more here
And read the proposed policy here

Mangroves: Better for Your Local Economy than a New Airport

Costa Rica’s Térraba-Sierpe National Wetlands are the biggest remaining mangrove forests in Central America. But the region lacks a management plan, and is facing threats including a new international airport project backed by the national government, and a dam for hydropower. The only way to save the mangroves was to show developers that the mangrove’s ecosystem values could stand up against the supposedly economy-boosting hydropower and airport projects, says Azur Moulaert, leader of the ECOTICOS initiative spearheading the valuation project.

“When the developers come in and say ‘we’re going to do a hundred million dollar project,’” explains Moulaert, “Our work says that the mangrove produces five hundred million worth of ecosystem services a year.” The strategy has paid off – thanks to ECOTICOS’ work, a management plan for the Térraba-Sierpe wetlands was finally approved, and development has been tabled for now.

Learn more here

US MITIGATION NEWS

Wildlands Restores 186 acres of Native Fish Habitats in California’s Delta
Amidst the endless mess that is restoring California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, here’s a bright spot. Wildlands, Inc. has completed its 186-acre habitat restoration project at the Liberty Island Conservation Bank in Yolo County. The project created a “mosaic of habitats” for native Delta fish species, including salmon, longfin smelt, and Delta smelt. The restoration project will be used to mitigate adverse impacts to fish habitat elsewhere in the Delta.

Read more here

Gasp! Published wetland mitigation credit prices?
Bucking the general consensus in the industry, Mitigation Solutions USA recently sent an e-newsletter announcing the availability of credits at Keystone Mitigation Bank (Rains County, east TX), and… the credit prices! Prices for preservation FCUs (functional credit units) range from $8,500-$15,000 and $17,000-$25,000 for restoration FCUs (the range indicates volume discounts).

 

Sign up for MS USA’s newsletter & emails here

 

USGS and Ecosystem Services
The US Geological Society recently created a team which focuses on ecosystem services, amongst other topics. The USGS Science and Decisions Center “is an interdisciplinary center for applications and research in decision science, ecosystem services, and resilience… The SDC uses a comprehensive framework that includes valuing ecosystem services, integrating these values into management objectives, comparing trade-offs, and evaluating the consequences of management decisions from an ecosystem services perspective. In the area of ecosystem services, SDC staff have chaired two international conferences of ‘A Community of Ecosystem Services (ACES).” Seems like this is long in the works, as indicated by 2009 conference proceedings on “Developing a Vision: Incorporating Ecosystem Services into Decision Making.”

EVENTS

Valuing Nature Network workshops
The Valuing Nature Network (VNN) in partnership with Natural Environment Resource Council (NERC) will be running a series of workshops on biodiversity and ecosystem service valuation in London during May 2011.The workshops, supported by the Natural Capital Initiative (NCI), will cover a broad range of topics associated with valuing biodiversity, ecosystem services and natural resource use. 10, 11, 13, 17, 19, 20, 23, 24 May. London, UK.

Read more about the workshops here

2011 Yale Conservation Finance Camp
The 5th annual Yale Conservation Finance Camp will be held at Yale University. The course offers the latest information on a wide range of innovative conservation finance tools, including new sources of philanthropic funds, public capital and private investment, as well as a framework for analyzing and packaging them. The camp is focused on useful, hands-on tools for conservation practitioners and board members, foundation leaders, private investors and graduate students. The course is limited to 20 participants. 6-10 June. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, US.

Click here for further information on the camp

Training Course for Mitigation Banking and In-lieu Fee Program Interagency Review Teams
This comprehensive week-long training for federal and state regulators who serve on mitigation bank and in-lieu fee program Interagency Review Teams (IRTs) will provide IRT’s with a thorough grounding in the relevant federal policy, build IRT expertise at both the individual and team level, and develop the leadership skills necessary to be an effective member of an IRT. Free with limited space. 20-24 June. Shepherdstown, WV, USA.

Read more here

Ecosystem Markets: Making them Work
WRI and AFF host the fourth annual national conference on ecosystem markets. June 28 – July 1, 2011. Madison, Wisconsin.

Read more about the conference here

Ecosystem Services in Urban Areas Seminar 2011
This seminar will provide a platform to exchange information and ideas, based on the presentation of the cutting-edge research on the different perspectives on the value of ecosystem services in urban areas. 15-16 July 2011. Lodz, lí³dzkie, Poland.

Read more here

The National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration
Initiated by the University of Florida, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, NCER is dedicated to both small and large scale ecosystem restoration programs around the country. 1-5 August 2011. Baltimore, Maryland.

Read more about the conference here

Earth Stewardship: Preserving and enhancing the earth’s life-support systems
This conference brings together those practicing stewardship across all sectors to share ideas and innovations. 7-12 August. Austin, Texas.

Read more here

13th BIOECON Annual Conference
More information forthcoming. 11-13 September. Geneva, Switzerland.

Read more here

Ecosystem Services: Integrating Science and Practice 4th International ESP Conference
This conference aims to provide a continuous platform for researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to exchange information and ideas about new developments and pressing issues on the Science and Practice of Ecosystem Services (and to strengthen the partnership). 4-7 October. Wageningen, Gelderland, Netherlands.

Read more here

UNEP-FI Global Roundtable “The Tipping Point: Sustained Stability in the Next Economy”
UNEP FI’s 2011 Global Roundtable is the perfect opportunity to cast a spotlight on what the sustainable development agenda means for the world’s finance, investment and insurance sectors. 19-20 October 2011. Washington, DC.

Read more here

JOB OPENINGS
Project Manager: Biodiversity and Agricultural Markets Specialist
EcoAgriculture Partners is an international non-profit organization that works to facilitate ​sustainable food production, rural livelihoods, and environmental conservation globally.

EcoAgriculture seeks to hire a Project Manager to join our committed team in our Washington, D.C., headquarters as soon as possible. The Project Manager will lead EcoAgriculture’s contribution to an international project focused on improving the conservation outcomes of agricultural production systems for major commodity crops including palm oil, soybeans, sugar cane, and coffee.

Click here for details.

 

Programme Manager (Responsible Product)
The Forest Trust is seeking an experienced and motivated professional, keen to secure a career within a dynamic charity seeking to bring Responsible Products to market. The successful candidate will have experience of supply chain management or procurement and will be ​numerate, articulate and organized.

The Forest Trust has been working with retailers and importers in Europe and Asia for 12 years and is currently seeking to recruit a Programme Manager based in the UK.

Click here for details

Manager, Finance & Budgeting, Sustainable Agriculture Division
The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organization that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. The Finance & Budgeting Manager will be a key member of both Rainforest Alliance HQ Finance & Administration Division and the Sustainable Agriculture Division management team. S/he will provide critical support to the Sustainable Agriculture Division management in monitoring, analyzing and reporting the financial performance of the Sustainable Agriculture Division.

Click here for details.

Additional resources

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