News Articles

This Week In Biodiversity: Filling In The Funding Gap

While the Inter-American Development Bank looks at ways to preserve biodiversity in Latin America and the Caribbean using public and private investments, a new version of the Little Biodiversity Finance Book is launched. Also, natural capital proved to be a popular topic at Rio+20.

While the Inter-American Development Bank looks at ways to preserve biodiversity in Latin America and the Caribbean using public and private investments, a new version of the Little Biodiversity Finance Book is launched. Also, natural capital proved to be a popular topic at Rio+20.

This article originally appeared in the Mitigation Mail newsletter. Click here to view the original.

4 July 2012   |   If the success of an idea can be gauged by news coverage, then natural capital accounting came out of Rio+20 the clear winner. With dozens of countries and major companies signing on to the Natural Capital Declaration and even more support for a communiqué calling on international political and financial bodies to implement natural capital accounting, have we reached a tipping point? It’s the focus of a discussion right now at Ecosystem Commons – click here to add your two cents.

 

It was a good month for old-fashioned fundraising for conservation finance, too, with Ecosystem Investment Partners announcing their newest fund had raised well beyond its $150 million target from investors. Meanwhile, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is formulating its own strategy for a major initiative harnessing public and private investments to preserve biodiversity in Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

And these approaches are in good company: with the launch of the newest version of the Little Biodiversity Finance Book, decision-makers are spoiled for choice. The Book explores a range of mechanisms for funding biodiversity conservation – all of which will be essential if we’re to close the $100 billion-plus gap in biodiversity finance between current spending and levels needed to meet the Aichi Targets.

 

We cover all these developments and more in this month’s Mitmail – from the latest in biodiversity offset design to a precedent-setting candidate conservation agreement in Texas.

 

As always, if you value getting the latest news on habitat and biodiversity market mechanisms in your inbox every month, consider becoming a supporting subscriber. Your support enables us to keep the lights on and keeps the news and analytics coming, free of charge. And with a donation of $150, you’ll get your (or your company’s) name and website link in a full year of issues of the Mitigation Mail news brief. Make a donation here.

 

Happy reading!

 

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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


EM Exclusives

BBOP’s Biodiversity Offset Design Handbook: New and Improved

Last week, Forest Trends’ Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP) released an updated version of the Biodiversity Offset Design Handbook. This 2012 update to the original Offset Design Handbook (2009) includes additional and improved guidance on the two new Resource Papers published in April 2012: “Limits to What can be Offset” and “No Net Loss and Loss/Gain Calculations”. This version also provides context and references for the BBOP Standard on Biodiversity Offsets and its associated Guidance Notes, which were published in early 2012. An updated accompanying glossary has also been provided.

Read more from BBOP.
Download the new handbook (pdf).

The Texas Conservation Plan: The Good, The Bad, and the Lizard

 

In early June, the US Department of Fish and Wildlife decided to withdraw its proposal to classify the Dune Sagebrush Lizard species as endangered – largely, they say because the, ‘Texas Conservation Plan’ has succeeded in providing for the conservation needs of the vulnerable Lizard, without the added challenges of compliance that Endangered Species status would have brought.

 

It’s a clear endorsement of a unique program pioneered by the Texas Comptroller of Public Account together with the Southwest Region of the federal Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), who forged the Plan, formally a ‘Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances.’ It’s also a novel approach to conservation that could set a nationwide precedent of Texas-sized proportions.

 

Get the full story at Ecosystem Marketplace.

A Little Book to Help Bridge a Big Finance Gap

Earlier this month, the Global Canopy Programme released the third edition of the Little Biodiversity Finance Book – a comprehensive look at financing options for biodiversity conservation around the world. Noting the gap between current funding for biodiversity and ecosystem services and the amount required to meet the Aichi Targets in 2020, the authors examine seventeen different financing mechanisms and how they might all be harnessed to stem biodiversity loss.

 

 

The book’s authors use a handy system of common criteria to evaluate a wide range of mechanism types. Mechanisms themselves are classed under three headings: revenue generation, delivery and institutional arrangements. “These modules can be thought of as independent building blocks that can be arranged in a ‘mix and match’ approach,” write the authors. “[Users can choose] the most suitable options from each module to create a more effective, efficient, and equitable financial system.”

 

Learn more.
Download the Little Biodiversity Finance Book (pdf).

Could Financial Institutions Hold the Key to Accounting for Natural Capital?

 

At Ecosystem Commons’ Soapbox, Christina MacFarquhar of the Global Canopy Programme has stepped up to ask whether the embrace of natural capital accounting by financial institutions is the ‘tipping point’ we’ve all been waiting for. “Our thinking: financial institutions have considerable indirect ecological footprints through their customers and directly through their purchasing decisions – it makes sense that the institutions we go to for future wealth and security should invest in activities that protect, rather than erode, natural capital,” writes MacFarquhar. “Developing a workable methodology for financial institutions to account for natural capital is not going to be simple in practice – but we must move in this direction. What barriers should we expect and how can we overcome them?”

 

Read more and join the conversation.


Mitigation News

Natural Capital Accounting Makes Friends in High Places

With little progress at Rio coming out of formal negotiations, the action was to be found elsewhere. A big source of buzz was 39 banks and more than 50 countries signing on to the Natural Capital Declaration, which calls for public and private uptake of natural capital accounting around the world. Signatories say that governments must create appropriate drivers and legislation to support valuation and protection of natural capital. Currently business’ unaccounted use of natural capital amounts to an estimated 6.7 percent of global GDP.

 

 

“It’s time to put our account with nature back in balance,” said Andrew Mitchell, Director of the Global Canopy Programme at an event promoting the Declaration. “Doing so offers huge opportunity for nations rich in natural assets, and is an essential component of any green growth strategy. It’s not about pricing nature, it’s about saving ourselves. The visible engagement of finance sector leaders in this process is a giant leap forward.”

 

The Declaration comes on the heels of a report from the Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) Partnership, A Smarter GDP: Factoring Natural Capital into Economic Decision-Making. The report offers an overview of natural capital accounting and uptake around the world, case studies, and current WAVES Partnership work.

 

 

Read a press release about the Natural Capital Declaration.
Download the Natural Capital Declaration (pdf).

Make Bio-Banking Better

 

Australia’s New South Wales Government has initiated a review of the BioBanking biodiversity offset program and its assessment methodology. Public comments are welcomed on the scheme’s efficiency, conservation effectiveness, methodology,and framework, with input sought especially on the bundle of compulsory management actions currently required, and on increasing participation in the program.

 

A discussion paper being circulated offers a look at performance so far: credits are selling in the range of AUD $2500-$9000 (before tax) and costing AUD $1400-$9500 to generate. More than 450 hectares have been protected to date, with another 1500 hectares’ worth of projects currently being considered.

 

Read more at Lexology.
Download materials related to the review and submit comments.

New IDB Biodiversity Platform Launches

 

Last week at Rio, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) launched a new Biodiversity Platform for Latin America and the Caribbean, that aims to support biodiversity conservation through funding, partnerships, and knowledge development. Currently IDB seeks public input on shaping its platform, which will inform and ultimately support a full initiative beginning in 2013. IDB has identified four core themes for its strategy:

1) Mainstreaming and accounting for the value of ecosystems; 2) Maintaining the biodiversity endowment; 3) Promoting private sector investment in biodiversity; and 4) Strengthening governance and policy frameworks.

 

Learn more and provide your feedback.

Can’t Cook These Books

 

A new white paper from Ecometrica offers a framework for reporting corporate biodiversity performance. It proposes a set of accounts similar to the profit and loss statements and balance sheets found in financial reporting (though within Ecometrica’s framework there is no translation of biodiversity values into monetary figures). The approach, say the authors, has the benefit of being “transparent and concise.”

 

 

“Setting up the biodiversity accounts in the same manner as financial accounts removes the possibility for companies to manipulate their results by selling degraded land and buying pristine land with the aim of hiding their negative impact on habitats,” write the authors. “Any negative impacts would be reported in the biodiversity impacts account, while the buying of pristine land would not: purchases of land would be shown in the biodiversity position statement.”

 

 

Download the white paper here (pdf).

Get a Hold of Your Data!

 

There’s a lot of biodiversity data out there – but it’s rarely standardized or compiled in one place. the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) are taking aim at that issue with their new best practice guide for biodiversity data publishing, developed specifically for local governments. The guide provides an overview of tools and protocols for managing biodiversity data and how it can streamline the local planning process.

 

Learn more at Environmental Expert.
Access the guide here.

Ecosystem Investment Partners Raises $180 Million

 

Private equity firm Ecosystem Investment Partners (EIP) announced earlier this month that it had closed its oversubscribed fund, Ecosystem Investment Partners II, L.P., having raised $180.7 million in equity capital commitments. EIP aquires large rural properties with high conservation values for restoration and ultimate sale, with wetland, stream, and endangered species habitat mitigation credits providing cash flow for its activities. With its new fund, EIP plans to acquire an additional ten to fifteen properties around the USA. The fund, which had an initial target of $150 million, found investors ranging from foundations and endowments to pension plans to individuals.

 

Read a press release.
Read a profile of EIP by Private Equity International

CA Coalition Pushes For a Banking Bill

 

In March, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) announced that it was freezing its review of new conservation and mitigation banking proposals, due to budget cuts.

 

Now, a coalition of public and private conservation groups in the state is pursuing a legislatively-mandated habitat banking program to ensure that conservation and mitigation banking in the state doesn’t encounter any future hiccups. The Natural Resources Banking Coalition aims to reorganize the state’s banking program, establish a preference for advanced mitigation efforts, and set out clear timelines for reviewing applications.

 

“This collaborative effort seeks to create a reliably-funded, efficient conservation program that approves standard-setting conservation and habitat protection projects,” said Travis Hemmen, Business and Marketing Manager at Westervelt Ecological Services and a member of the coalition. The bill, SB-1148, is expected to pass this summer and take effect in January 2013.

 

Learn more.

Florida Wetlands Expert Reinstated, And Her Bosses Now Under Investigation

Last month, we brought you a story about Florida’s top wetlands expert being suspended from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), allegedly for refusing to issue a controversial permit for a mitigation project.

 

Now that expert, Connie Bersok, has been reinstated and has filed a complaint against DEP officials. Her complaint has sparked an investigation into how her bosses handled her suspension and their own ties to the Highlands Ranch wetland mitigation bank. The bank had attempted to secure a new state permit after a memo – issued by Bersok’s boss, Jeff Littlejohn and apparently drafted by Highlands Ranch’s attorney – changed the way credits were calculated. The memo would have more than doubled the number of credits approved, but Bersok raised objections about the validity of the credits, lack of ‘reasonable assurance’, and perceived rule-bending by DEP officials.

 

Now Florida’s Deputy Chief Inspector General Dawn Case is investigating “possible improprieties” on the part of DEP officials, who appear to have suspended Connie Bersok over suspicions that she had been speaking to third parties about her objections to the Highlands Ranch permit.

Read more at the Ledger.

Mitigation Nation

 

And finally – some mitigation banking newsbites from around the web:

 

In California, the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) will pay $13.3 million for 76 acres of habitat for the endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rat to mitigate for impacts from an interstate improvement project. Credits work out to $175,000 per acre, which SANBAG got at a $75,000/acre discount from the usual price.

 

On the other side of the country in New Jersey, Triple Five has reached an agreement with the Corps for permanent protection of a publicly-owned 128-acre tract and the purchase of 5.41 acres’ worth of wetland credits from the Evergreen MRI3 Wetland Mitigation Bank to mitigate for impacts to wetlands from an indoor water and amusement park next to the Meadowlands Sports Complex.

 

Down South, two new banks have opened their doors for business: the 613-acre Long Lonesome bank in Morehouse Parish, Louisiana selling bottomland hardwood credits and the Buttahatchie River Mitigation Bank in Monroe County, Mississippi (prospectus available here). In Texas, Mitigation Solutions USA’s Davis Creek Mitigation Bank has seven wetland and 150,400 stream credits up for sale.

 

 

 

 

JOBS

 

Director of Sustainable Finance

 

World Wildlife Fund – Washington DC, USA

 

World Wildlife Fund is seeking an experienced and ambitious Director of Sustainable Finance to help shape WWF’s impact in the finance sector both in the US and more broadly. The role will include strategy development and delivery, management of a small team of sustainable finance specialists globally, management and oversight of the development of technical and research reports, and coordination with other WWF departments and groups who are engaging with the finance sector.

 

Learn more.

Climate Change, Water Sanitation, and Hygiene/Biodiversity Conservation Experts

 

ICF International – Nairobi, Kenya

 

ICF International is seeking a Chief of Party (CoP), Deputy Chief of Party (DCoP) and other technical experts for an anticipated USAID program aimed to strengthen the resiliency and sustainability of East African economies, trans-boundary freshwater ecosystems, and communities. Positions require at least 10 years of progressively responsible work in managing and implementing international development programs, including experience relative to freshwater resources, biodiversity conservation and climate change. Positions include program management, technical implementation, project administration and operational responsibilities.

 

Learn more.

Call for Consultancy Services: Market assessment of ecosystem service demand in Vietnam

 

Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) in association with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) are looking to test the idea of expanding the FSC certification label beyond timber and into other ecosystem services (ES) under the Forest Certification for Ecosystem Services (ForCES) project in Vietnam. This work will be conducted across two sites in Vietnam in Quang Tri and Ha Tinh Province over 4 years. A key component of early activities under the ForCES project will be to understand the extent of market demand for ES. As such, the objective of this assignment will be to examine national market potential through demand studies and an analysis of the costs & benefits of incorporating ES through FSC certification.

 

Learn more.

EVENTS

 

5th Annual International ESP Conference

 

The Ecosystem Services Partnership invites you to the 5th annual ESP conference. Don’t miss your chance to interact and exchange ideas with practitioners, educators, policy-makers, researchers, and many others. Be part of working-groups producing outcomes ranging from journal articles, white papers, book chapters (if enough we can put together a book out of this conference), grant proposals, database structures, websites, and much more. This conference is being organised jointly with the International Association of Landscape Ecology (IALE) and A Community on Ecosystem Services (ACES). 31 July – 4 August 2012. Portland, Oregon, United States.

 

Learn more.

Webinar: Innovation in Species Conservation: Conservation Banking for Candidate Species

 

The World Resources Institute (WRI) and Advanced Conservation Strategies (ACS) have been working to develop a pilot conservation marketplace for the gopher tortoise in its non-federally-listed range of the Southeast United States. The pilot is intended to serve as a model for “advance mitigation” markets for candidate species—a concept that has gained considerable attention nationwide as a potential conservation and conflict resolution strategy for species like the sage grouse and lesser prairie chicken, and that is the subject of proposed rulemaking by the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). In this webinar, Todd Gartner of WRI and Josh Donlan of ACS, will introduce their work to-date in this area, including the structure, promise, and challenges of conservation banking in an advance mitigation context and their experience applying these concepts in the Southeast for the gopher tortoise. 18 July 2012; 1-2 p.m. Eastern / 10-11 a.m. Pacific. Online.

 

Learn more and register.

International Conference on Biodiversity & Sustainable Energy Development

 

OMICS Group’s International Conference on Biodiversity & Sustainable Energy Development, Biodiversity-2012 takes the theme “Implying Research into Socio Ecological Studies to Conserve Biodiversity.” Biodiversity-2012 is comprised of 12 tracks and 77 sessions designed to offer comprehensive sessions that address current issues in Implying research into the Socio Ecological Studies to Conserve Biodiversity. Abstracts are currently being accepted. 14-15 September 2012. Hyderabad, India.

 

Learn more.

ACES and Ecosystem Markets 2012

 

ACES and Ecosystem Markets 2012 is an international collaboration of three dynamic communities – A Community on Ecosystem Services (ACES), the Ecosystem Markets Conference, and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP). The conference will provide an open forum to share experiences and state-of-the-art methods, tools, and processes for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference will be to link science, practice, institutions and resource sustainable decision making by bringing together ecosystem services communities from around the United States and the globe. 10-12 December 2012. Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA.

 

Learn more.

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