News Articles

This Week in Biodiversity: Going Global!

This week, Ecosystem Marketplace’s SpeciesBanking.com has gone global.  The site will continue to include data about North American biodiversity programs and policies but now it will also have information on programs and policies from around the world driving markets for biodiversity protection.  This week’s Mitigation Mail fills you in on the details and brings you the latest news from around the world of biodiversity.

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 by clicking here.

9 March 2011 | Many of our readers may be aware of Ecosystem Marketplace’s SpeciesBanking.com website. The website has been a leading source of news and information on the North American mitigation banking sector, and now we’re going global to include biodiversity compensation mechanisms around the world.   The expansion follows the publication last year of State of Biodiversity Markets: Offset and Compensation Programs Worldwide, which documented $2 billion in performance-based financing for habitat preservation.   Such mechanisms are becoming increasingly popular as cash-strapped governments look to promote economic growth while preserving endangered species habitat.

Last year’s ‘International Year of Biodiversity’ and 10th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP10) catalyzed many governments to consider policies and programs that might drive markets for biodiversity protection. In these early stages of market and institutional development, transparency and the democratization of information are critical, and SpeciesBanking.com provides just that.

The global annual market for biodiversity offsets, compensation and bank credits is around $2 billion and likely much more since this nascent biodiversity market has largely developed under the radar. By expanding SpeciesBanking.com to cover developments around the world, we hope to build a clearinghouse of biodiversity offset data from information on fish habitat banks in Canada to policy developments on biodiversity offsets in Mongolia and everyplace in between.

SpeciesBanking.com was launched in December of 2008, focusing on species credit trading in the United States. Although the US still remains the most active player in ‘banking’ (with over 900 species, wetland and stream banks), this “re-launch” of SpeciesBanking.com expands the focus to the global stage. We now showcase information on 27 habitat banks around the world, and over 60 policies and programs that provide the underlying drivers for biodiversity markets.

With governments promising to halve biodiversity loss by 2020 while watching coffers slide into crisis mode, these policies and programs provide examples of new mechanisms to incentivize investments in biodiversity restoration and protection.

We’ve also expanded US information available, providing a downloadable dataset of 832 wetland and stream mitigation banks in the US — data which has been elusive even through government channels.

Finally, we provide a dataset of biodiversity Payments for Ecosystem Services programs not tied to biodiversity impacts and compensation. These largely government-run programs dole out around $2 billion annually to biodiversity outcomes through biodiversity-friendly agricultural payment programs, debt-for-nature swaps, and more.

SpeciesBanking.com will be debuted in an online live webinar launch later this month, and we’ll be sure to send an invite when details become available.
 
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Read on for a full round-up of this month’s latest news on financial incentives for biodiversity conservation.
—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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

News

Sometimes Money Does Grow on Trees

Ecosystem Marketplace and the US Forest Service have released a report covering forest-based payments for ecosystem service, and found that forest owners in the United States are currently receiving around $1.9 billion from a range of PES mechanisms. The report, Taking Stock: Payments for Forest Ecosystem Services in the United States, found that the vast majority of that funding came from non-governmental sources and that “bundling” ecosystem services was common. While long-established PES programs were well represented relatively new PES mechanisms were found to be growing more prevalent, particularly wetland and conservation banking.

Read about the report here

Nigeria Pushes REDD Forward

Nigeria has been the site of a lot of promising movements towards a comprehensive national REDD program. A project in the Cross Rivers state was selected as a pilot site for REDD last year by the UN-REDD Programme. The governor of Cross Rivers entered the global network of sub-national REDD efforts, known as the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF), has provided momentum for REDD, and now the race is on to ensure the country has pieces in place when it submits its REDD readiness proposal in March. There are some reasons to be concerned though: Nigeria has been the recent site of ethnic tensions, which could intensify if large sums of money are on the table, and Nigeria’s political situation has been unstable in the recent past.

Read about REDD in Nigeria here

Healthy Southern Forests, Healthy Southern Waters

The World Resources Institute has published a report on the potential for payment for watershed services in the Southern U.S. The region is projected to lose forests, and the ecosystem services those forests provide, in the coming decade, primarily due to development. The issue brief looks at how water utilities and businesses in the US and Latin America are engaging in upstream forest conservation to benefit from the cost-effective means of cleaning water supplies watersheds provide. The report should prompt some thought about whether human-built infrastructure to deal with water quality can compete with innovative PES mechanisms that promote natural infrastructure.

Read about the WRI’s research here


Mitigation News

TNC inks $10 million partnership with Dow to demonstrate nature’s benefits for business

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Dow Chemical Company have announced a new partnership developing a framework for Dow and other companies to better incorporate the value of nature into business decisions. Dow has committed $10 million over five years to investigate how business operations rely on and impact ecosystem services (for example, biodiversity or water filtering services provided by forestlands) with TNC providing strategic and technical support. Findings are expected to inform Dow’s management strategy, and to demonstrate the business case for protecting nature’s benefits. Tools and lessons learned from the collaboration will be made publicly available for use and peer review.

Get the full story here

WWF Brazil: OK with business engagement but wary of habitat banking

WWF Brazil’s leader Denise Hamíº, thinks habitat banking is dangerous for the potential ‘license to trash’ attitude that companies could adopt and the potential for compensation far away from the area impacted. At the same time, WWF are engaging business and see them as essential to fulfilling conservation objectives. A $2 million investment from Brazilian broadcaster Skye helped WWF launch its ‘Rainforest Rescue’ project in the state of Acre, where payments of £200 a year are provided to local families in exchange for rainforest protection. WWF also engages 50 firms in its Climate Savers club, and is hoping to engage more Brazilian businesses.

Read more here

World Bank, non-profits make nice with palm oil

The World Bank is set to release a strategy for lifting its ban of palm oil investments in March of 2011 to a limited set of projects that protect high conservation value forests and provide profit-sharing with local communities. BusinessGreen provides background on the big-picture issues surrounding palm oil development, including deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and advances in sustainability, criticisms of this voluntary RSPO standards approach, and consumer demand for sustainably-sourced palm oil.

Meanwhile, MongaBay profiles a new agreement between the #2 palm oil producer in the world (Golden Agri-Resources Limited, or GAR) and The Forest Trust (a non-profit focused on greening company supply chains). GAR is in need of a serious reputation make-over. One of the companies it owns – Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology – has been the target of negative campaigns by non-profits and as a result lost major customers like Unilever, Kraft, Nestle, Burger King, and General Mills.

In the agreement with The Forest Trust, “GAR will establish a forest conservation policy that bans development of peatlands and high carbon stock and high conservation value (HCV) forests. The policy also includes social safeguards including free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) for indigenous and local communities as well as compliance with Indonesian laws and RSPO Principles and Criteria. The policy will apply for all plantations GAR owns, manages, or invests in.”

 

Read more here

In lagging economy, business commitment to sustainability management is still growing

The second annual Sustainability & Innovation Global Executive Study has been released, and its findings are cause for optimism. 69 percent of companies responding say they’re planning on ramping up sustainability management and investment this year. Firms say that a green image confers real competitive advantage: respondents identified by the study as ‘sustainability embracers’ reported greater confidence in their company’s competitiveness relative to their industry peers than ‘cautious adopter’ respondents, and 66 percent reported that a commitment to environmental responsibility has increased profits. The study, carried out by the MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group, surveys over 3,100 companies drawn from every major industry and region.

Read more here

Enviros threaten to protest offset in New South Wales

In a sign of the maturation of the BioBanking program in the Australian state of New South Wales, enviros are threatening to protest over proposed offsets. The Wingecarribee environmental committee is upset that impacts from the development of an 81km water supply pipeline are not being offset in a like-for-like manner. The State is said to be taking a ‘holistic view’ in the placement of the offset.

Read more here

New PwC briefing paper guides private sector towards becoming ‘Biodiversity-Positive’

Following the adoption of a new strategic plan to stem biodiversity loss by the 193 parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has prepared a briefing paper, ‘Bio-positive’, to help businesses do their part. ‘Bio-positive’ offers an overview of the risks posed by biodiversity loss to the private sector, as well as new business opportunities emerging, such as habitat banking in the real-estate sector, the generation of carbon credits by agricultural and timber operators, or new opportunities for financial firms in biodiversity markets. The briefing paper, which is well-suited to decision-makers unfamiliar with the concept of ecosystem services, includes some simple steps for companies to assess their own biodiversity impacts and develop a ‘bio-positive’ strategy.

Download the briefing paper here

UK: Report promotes habitat banking

This brief (12-p) report provides some background and ideas for England, as “the Coalition Government is committed to introducing habitat banking.” The report refers to the notion of a tiered habitat banking system (introduced in a 2010 eftec/IEEP study on habitat banking for the European Commission http://ec.europa.eu/environment/enveco/pdf/eftec_habitat_exec_sum.pdf ), with different rules for more common species versus those for example within a Natura 2000 site. They also suggest that this system could be scaled up by allowing trading within tiers or allowing trading up from a lower tier to a higher tier. This approach generalizes the category within which ‘no net loss’ should occur. Thus, there would be no net loss within a tier such as “strictly protected areas,” but theoretically there could be loss of a particular species like Britain’s red kite. On the up side, generalizing categories could lead to larger markets. The $30 billion carbon market, after all, has one global equivalent unit – CO2e.

 

The report also notes the need for demand for credits created through strong and transparent regulation, including a need for a legal commitment to no net loss. The report also suggests that government could kick-start this market by: underwriting a certain amount of early credit creation (similar to carbon market support), underwriting a price floor on a minimum number of credits, or providing corporate tax relief “(of say 50%) on the costs to the buyer of purchasing credits that go beyond the minimum needed to provide no net loss.”

Read article here
Access full report here

Not looking forward to biodiversity-gate

At last year’s CBD COP10 in Nagoya, parties agreed to form the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), bringing together a panel of experts to produce reports on biodiversity loss and its economic effects. Although the panel is currently limited to providing scientific research, some members are trying to broaden the scope of the IPBES to include recommending alternative policy in line with their findings. A paper in Science details the reasons why an international scientific voice generating peer-reviewed, politically and socially unbiased research reports and international policy strategies should play a role in the world of international biodiversity conservation.

Read more here
And here
Access the journal article here

TEEB for India

Consultations on a new framework for valuing and protecting India’s natural capital kicked off in early February. The stakeholder discussions focused on strategies for implementing recommendations from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study into India’s policies on conservation, climate change, and business regulation. Outcomes from the two-day consultations included progress on a framework for assessing the value of the country’s natural capital and bolstering regulations and financing mechanisms for biodiversity conservation.

“India is planning a TEEB for India study to assess its natural capital,” announced Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Environment and Forests. “We are committed to developing a framework for green national accounts that we can implement by 2015, and we are confident that the ‘TEEB for India’ study will be the key facilitator.” A TEEB for India study is no small undertaking: India is a biodiversity bonanza, containing 7-8% of the world’s recorded plant and animal species on just 2.4% of the world’s land area, as well as host to four of the world’s thirty-four biodiversity hotspots.

Learn more
And access the press release here

Victorian government to landowners: stop beating around the bush

BushTender, the Victorian government’s habitat banking program, invited landowners to participate in the program on February 11th, closing the period for expression of interest on the 25th of February. $5 million was up for grabs, with landowners able to receive payments for preserving and managing areas of natural vegetation. Although this round of calls for expression of interest is closed, we’ll keep our eyes open for the next round and give you a heads up.

Read more about the program here
And here

Britain’s leaders backpedal on plan to sell the country’s forests

Conservative Party leaders in Britain have backed away from a plan to sell off nearly all of the country’s publicly owned forests, a proposal on the table as the UK had been considering deep cuts to government spending. Environment secretary Caroline Spelman announced the decision to abandon a policy consultation on privatizing 258,000 ha of woodland, and took personal responsibility for the misstep. “I am sorry, we got this one wrong, but we have listened to people’s concerns,” she told the House of Commons. The plan had produced a flood of public criticism across the country.

Read about the aborted forest sell-off here

Green vs. green in renewable energy development

Conflicts over several proposed solar energy installations on federal lands in the Southern California desert underscore the sometimes-uneasy relationship between environmentalist goals of scaling up renewable energy and wildlife conservation. Backers of five different solar thermal projects are finding themselves the subject of lawsuits by organizations like the Sierra Club and American Indian groups, who cite concerns over the impacts to wildlife and culturally significant lands. “It’s green-on-green violence,” says Ted Sullivan, an analyst at Lux Research, of the controversy. “Do you want reduced carbon emissions or do you want to save an endangered species?” With no easy answer, it looks like the question’s going to be settled in court.

Read more here

Linking corporate social responsibility dollars to forest conservation in India

India’s Environmental Minister Jairam Ramesh has called for expanding the scope of CSR to focus more on environmental management and afforestation. Deforestation and forest degradation are growing problems in India; with climate change threats on the horizon, the country’s forests and mangroves are doubly at risk. In his remarks, delivered at a rally on February 17th, Ramesh argued for a partnership between state-owned enterprises and the Ministry of Environment and Forests in developing CSR strategies to address these issues. He noted that the state-owned oil and gas firm ONGC spent only about half of its $88 million CSR fund last year, for lack of viable projects. Public-sector enterprises in India are currently required to spent five percent of profits on CSR activities, and the Minister of Corporate Affairs is pushing to make CSR spending mandatory for private-sector firms as well. Re-orienting CSR toward an ‘eco-compensation’ focus could be a powerful strategy for conserving forests, wetlands, and mangroves in the country.

Read more about linking CSR and afforestation here
Read about India’s mandatory CSR proposals here

US MITIGATION NEWS

Developers in Oregon Struggle with Mitigation

Developers in Oregon who are trying to construct a new Wal-Mart in the city of The Dalles are becoming increasingly frustrated with a drawn out permitting process. The area of land to be developed is under the jurisdiction of State and Federal authorities, requiring both to sign off on the developer’s mitigation plans. Although a number of options are available for developers in Oregon, The Dalles is in the unfortunate position of having no in-lieu fee sites or access to wetland banks. And although the State won’t require the developers to mitigate their out-of-state impact, the Army Corp of Engineers will.

 

Read more here

 

WA County Considering In-Lieu Fee Program

Whatcom County, Washington is considering developing a “habitat mitigation fund” (aka In Lieu Fee Fund, or ILF) as a part of a larger program to provide developers incentives for low-impact development. Developers engaged in the incentive program would be able to purchase wetland and/or buffer credits from the County-run ILF. In the city of Mount Vernon, Washington, credits are selling in the neighborhood of $1 and $4 per square foot (or $43,560-174,240/acre). Developers have been paying between $1 to $6 per square foot to develop their own mitigation (or $43,560-$261,360/acre). The program, funded by a federal grant, is still in development stage and the County Planning Commission will conclude research in mid-March.

 

Read about the potential fund here

SW Ohio Wetland and Stream Mitigation Bank Opens

This month, local conservation agency Five Rivers MetroParks is opening the 364-acre Great Miami Wetland Mitigation Bank in Trotwood in SW Ohio. The MetroParks will offer wetland credits at about $50,000/acre and stream credits at about $300/linear foot. Of the 364-acre tract, 40 acres will be dedicated to wetland mitigation and the remainder will become a park.

 

Read more here

PSSST… I’ve Got Some Florida Swampland to Sell You

Shady Florida character Furman Clark has recently been arrested for swindling investors of what they thought would be a profitable wetland mitigation bank deal: a $50,000 investment was supposed to turn into a $500,000 return. It didn’t quite work out that way and the money went into a personal checking account. This dude is seriously shady: he was previously convicted for manslaughter and served six years in Georgia and North Carolina for both this and other below-board business deals.

 

Read about the shady deal here

EVENTS

Ecosystem Markets: Making them Work

WRI and AFF host the fourth annual national conference on ecosystem markets. June 28 July 1, 2011, Madison, Wisconsin. The National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration- August, 2011.

Read more about the conference 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

 

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)

 

Read more 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

 

Read more 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.

 

Read more here

JOB OPENINGS

Green-e Marketplace Analyst, Center for Resource Solutions

Center for Resource Solutions and Green-e Marketplace are seeking a full-time Green-e Marketplace Analyst to assist with program implementation and management.

Read more about the position here

Manager, Environment & Conservation Assessments,The Walt Disney Company

The Walt Disney Company is seeking a Manager, Environment & Conservation Assessments, to work on a variety of environmental projects spanning Disney’s diverse global operations.

Read more about the position here

KPMG – Multiple Openings

KPMG is seeking individuals for several positions within their expanding Climate Change & Sustainability Practice and Infrastructure Practice.

Read more about the positions here

 

Environmental Consulting & Management Specialist, CH2M HILL

CH2M HILL is seeking an Environmental Consulting & Management Specialist for their Calgary, Alberta, office.

Read more about the position here

Senior Programme Officer for Participation

The Secretariat of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Seeks a Senior Programme Officer for Participation

Read more about the position here

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