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This Week In Biodiversity: Hurry Up And Wait

The world of wetlands and wildlife is currently in a waiting period as a federal judge halted the US Clean Water Rule in 13 states and stakeholders in greater sage-grouse conservation wait for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to determine if the bird warrants federal protection. And the IUCN is still in the process of establishing new biodiversity offset policy.

11 September 2015 | Greetings! August 28th was supposed to be the day that the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corp of Engineer’s Clean Water Rule went into effect. But on the 27th, a federal judge in North Dakota halted the controversial rule in 13 states when he issued a temporary injunctionarguing the risk of irreparable harm is imminent and likely.

The 13 states now exempt filed a lawsuit shortly after the EPA and the Corp finalized the rule in late May. The states are North Dakota, Montana, Missouri, Alaska, Idaho, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Nevada and Wyoming and the injunction giving them exemption lasts throughout the litigation process, which could be several years-long, and “will almost certainly end up in the Supreme Court,” sources tell Ecosystem Marketplace.

Those invested in the greater sage grouse are also facing a wait, though not for quite as long. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is set to announce by September 30th whether the grouse requires protection under the Endangered Species Act – a decision seen by many as a bellwether of whether voluntary efforts can convince the feds that regulation isn’t the only way to save the bird.

One more deadline: You have until September 15th to submit comments on the IUCN’s draft policy on biodiversity offsets. This interview with Ariel Brunner of BirdLife International does a great job of capturing some of the debate about offsets in Europe these days.

This month’s Mitigation Mail also brings you the latest on Australia’s draft national Advanced Offset Policy, efforts to strengthen protections for natural capital and wetlands in Canada, and India’s one-step-forward, one-step-back journey towards protecting its vast biodiversity.  Keep reading for summaries of those stories and more.

Got a tip for a story? Send us an email or Tweet at us anytime.

Cheers,

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

EM HeadlinesMitigation Banking To Feel Indirect Effect Of Clean Water Rule Injunction

Hours before the Clean Water Rule was due to go into effect, a federal judge in North Dakota issued a temporary injunction that will halt implementation in 13 states. It’s the beginning of a long fight, supporters of the injunction say, and one that will inadvertently cause fluctuating demand for mitigation.

Ecosystem Marketplace has coverage.

Cambodia Reclassifies National Forests As Degraded Lands, Chops Them Down

On paper, Cambodia stopped issuing logging concessions in 2001 and instead began promoting sustainable agriculture on degraded lands. That program now covers about 14% of the country, but a Forest Trends investigation shows that a staggering 80% of that “degraded” land is in protected areas and national forests.

Get the full story from Ecosystem Marketplace.

Rice, Microfinance And Jobs: How Bangladesh Is Saving Its National Fish

By their very nature, fish are slippery and elusive – as are their habitats. That’s why payments for ecosystems services programs are so rare in fisheries management. But in Bangladesh, where fish and fishing are embedded in the national identity, the government has crafted a program that compensates fishers for conservation.

Keep reading here.

Opinion: Gastronomic Tourism – An Emerging Method To Save World’s Remaining Forests?

In the past half-century, mankind has destroyed half our planet’s tropical rainforests to harvest timber and make way for cattle, palm, and soybean farms. But forests yield an incredible array of fruits and fibers not found anyplace else, and we don’t have to destroy the forest to harvest them. In fact, “gastronomic tourism” is emerging as a new way to save the forests – and it has a surprising pedigree.

Keep reading at EM.

Opinion: Six Ways Climate Change In Alaska Will Affect You

The impact melting Arctic glaciers are having on global weather patterns may be common knowledge, but nevertheless, scientists at a press event for the US President’s visit to Alaska drove the message home. Here, Adam Markham of the Union of Concerned Scientists summarizes key points highlighting why the region’s distress is a problem for us all.

Learn more.

Mitigation News

With a Draft Statement, Australia’s Advanced Offset Policy Moves to the Comment Phase

Australia’s Commonwealth Department of the Environment released a draft of its policy statement on advanced environmental offsets, which are offsets that are implemented before any environmental impact happens. The draft establishes conditions for advanced offsets and when they will be considered, as well as information for offset providers. Interested parties can comment on the draft until October 12th, 2015.

Read a summary of the policy statement at Lexology.

85 Habitats, 14 States, 30,000 Acres: Timbervest Takes on Largest Restoration Work Yet

Investment management firm Timbervest recently announced that it will be restoring 85 natural habitats in 14 states, spanning 30,000 acres, as new conservation and mitigation banks. The firm, which manages $1 billion worth of timberland, already manages several banks, though this latest restoration venture represents a new record.

Read more at BusinessWire.

Nature Goes on the Books in Canada

Statistics Canada, the government office that offers statistical information related to the nation’s economic and social structure, has integrated a portion of its natural capital into Canada’s national balance sheet with plans to release them in December 2015. Canada, whose natural asset worth is valued at $1 billion, follows other nations integrating natural capital into their national accounts like Australia and China.

Read it at the Globe and Mail.

In a Land That’s Half Wetlands, Feds and State Disagree Over Best Mitigation Strategy

Alaskan Senators, development companies and residents are questioning federal mitigation requirements mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. During a recent heated hearing, lawmakers claimed the permitting rules for wetland mitigation are arbitrary and require more coordination and transparency between government agencies, while the Corps reminded Senators of the need to maintain no net loss of wetlands.

Keep reading here.

India’s Conundrum: Decreasing Biodiversity Amid Forest Growth

India’s forest cover may have increased in the last 30 years, but its biodiversity continues to decline, due to rampant urbanization close to forests, construction activities and cattle grazing. Medicinal plants are in particular danger with 93% of  major medicinal plants endangered. The government is in early stages of curbing this loss with initiatives that encourage people to grow these plants and forest species, in addition to more research and preservation.

The Times of India has coverage.

Biodiversity Offset Project Links Unlikely Team of Mining Companies and Aboriginal Tribe

In a first-of-its-kind agreement, an indigenous people will manage upward of 500 hectares of land in Queensland, Australia  as a biodiversity offset for three mining companies. The partnership is a bright spot in an uneasy relationship. The Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council will manage their pastoral company and work with local rangers to protect and preserve local biodiversity, but remain staunchly in opposition to energy development on their lands.

Learn more at ABC News.

Lack of Clarity Bogs Down India’s Pioneer Move to Protect Biodiversity

Confusion surrounds India’s Biodiversity Act, particularly the wording in its clause referring to access and benefit sharing. Now, an herbal industry association claims the provision only applies to non-Indian companies. India’s state biodiversity boards responded to the lack of clarity – and the herbal industry’s recent legal action – with a new state-level committee in Madhya Pradesh along with new guidelines promoting consistency across all states.

Learn more.

Ten Years After Katrina: Where are We Now?

A decade after the costliest natural disaster to ever hit the US, the people of the Gulf Coast are still in cleanup mode with the federal government investing nearly $15 billion to repair and update New Orleans’ levee system. Meanwhile, the government is still in discussion over a 35% allocation of offshore oil and gas revenue to Gulf Coast restoration work, which includes rebuilding the marshes that weren’t present during Hurricane Katrina, exposing the coast – and its inhabitants – to the full force of the storm surge. Over the last 80 years, Louisiana has lost 1,800 square miles of land to sea level rise, storms and oil drilling. Repairing these wetlands is a key part of building a more resilient and healthy coast and is also why individuals and entities are moving ahead with initiatives of their own. These include leveraging carbon finance and the energy sector to implement restoration projects.

Funds for Conservation Land Acquisitions Now!

In order to aid conservationists acquiring land, a key tactic to protect biodiversity, the Weeden Foundation together with partners launched the Quick Response Biodiversity Fund, which serves as a reserve pool allowing conservation organizations to make time-sensitive purchases of habitat for threatened wildlife. The Fund operates using a panel of global biodiversity experts volunteering their time, so 100% of proceeds flow to high-priority conservation projects.

Learn more from Inside Philanthropy.

Saskatchewan Government Pressed for a Mitigation Strategy

Ducks Unlimited Canada is pushing the Saskatchewan government to develop a “sound, transparent” mitigation strategy for wetland loss, to accompany the province’s new regulations for agricultural drainage projects. The conservation group points to mitigation protocols in neighboring Manitoba and Alberta as potential models.

Get coverage from the Leader-Post.

Seeing Nature’s Value…in Dollars

Logan, Australia is looking more closely at the value of vegetation and natural lands, with help from an online estimator that assesses the cost and impact of land-use change.  The tool is part of a larger planning scheme the city is launching that takes into consideration environmental factors – biodiversity, wildlife and native vegetation protection – requiring landowners to compensate for their environmental impact either by supporting citywide conservation initiatives or implementing the conservation themselves.

Learn more here.

Working Through the Farmer’s Fear of Improbability

When it comes to wildlife conservation, farmers’ two big fears are uncertainty and regulation, according to a consultant to farming interests and a former US Department of Agriculture official. In that sense, voluntary conservation initiatives, which ensure compliant landowners that they have fulfilled current and future obligations regarding a species, could be a win-win.

Agri-Pulse has the story.

New Resources: Building Climate-Smart and Beaver-Assisted Wetlands

Two new resources came out last month aimed at wetland managers in US.

  • The Association of State Wetland Managers published a new white paper aimed at integrating climate mitigation and adaptation measures into wetland management, Wetlands and Climate Change: Considerations for Wetland Program Managers.
  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service offers a new guidebook for land managers interested in recruiting beavers in helping repair riparian areas. The guide, Beaver Restoration Guidebook,includes best management practices, up-to-date science as well as case studies and draws on information from landowners, practitioners and other parties.

JOB LISTINGS

Director, Ecosystem Analysis

Conservation International – Arlington VA, USA

The Ecosystem Analysis Director will conduct applied research on habitat mapping and monitoring, near real-time decision support, spatial modeling, and cartographic presentation to contribute to Conservation International’s global efforts to promote healthy, sustainable societies. The successful candidate should have an advanced degree in environmental science or a related field; at least seven years of experience in scientific research and/or managing conservation projects; and a proficiency in using statistical and spatial analytical software systems (ERDAS, ESRI, R) and applying results.

Learn more here.

Senior Climate Change and Forest Consultant

The South Pole Group – Jakarta, Indonesia

The Senior Climate Change & Forest Consultant will plan, coordinate and manage projects and consultancy mandates related to climate change and forestry, deliver consultancy reports in English, liaison with clients on a project basis and help prepare proposals for new consultancy mandates. The successful candidate should have a university degree, ideally in environmental science or environmental management; an understanding of REDD+, land use and finance; and at least five years of experience in project management and consulting.

Learn more here.

Policy Associate

The Pacific Forest Trust – San Francisco CA, USA

The Policy Associate will support the PFT’s policy programs developing and implementing incentives for forest conservation and sustainable management. The Policy Associate will focus on research and analysis of forest watershed service programs, climate change policies, conservation tax policies and federal funding programs. The successful candidate should have a master’s degree in a related ecological or economic field; relevant job experience; and excellent research, writing and analytical skills.

Learn more here.

Designer and Social Media Expert

The Gold Standard Foundation – Geneva, Switzerland

The Designer and Social Media Expert will design and produce communications materials for the Gold Standard website and newsletter, maintain website content and contact databases, manage social media channels and support event management. The successful candidate should have at least two years of work experience; proficiency with Adobe suite software; basic HTML and WordPress and/or Dual capability; and familiarity with social media channels. All applicants should be proficient in English.

Learn more here.

EVENTS

International Summer School: InVEST Models – Mapping and Valuating Ecosystem Services for Better Decision Making

Join the UNIPD/INFORMED/UNIMOL/NATCAP Summer School and Intensive Training on ”InVEST Models: Mapping and Valuating Ecosystem Services for better decision making” to learn how to integrate natural capital value into policy, business and management decisions spending one week in the heart of the Dolomite mountains, a zone of outstanding universal value among UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 7-11 September 2015. San Vito, Italy.

Learn more here,

EPA-USDA National Workshop on Water Quality Markets

USDA and EPA are cosponsoring a National Workshop on Water Quality Markets. This event is hosted by the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska and coordinated by The Conservation Fund. The Workshop will highlight recent progress in water quality trading across the country with an emphasis on policy, resources, and tool development. The Workshop will provide EPA and USDA with an opportunity to lay out their vision for the role of water quality markets in advancing conservation and water quality goals, and provide you with the tools to engage in water quality markets. 15-17 September 2015. Lincoln NE, USA.

Learn more here.

SOCAP 15

We are a network of heart-centered investors, entrepreneurs, and social impact leaders who believe in an inclusive and socially responsible economy to address the world’s toughest challenges. Since 2008, SOCAP has created a platform where social impact leaders can connect and present their ideas to a global audience. Our annual flagship event in San Francisco is the largest conference for impact investors and social entrepreneurs and has drawn more than 10,000 people. 6-9 October 2015. San Francisco CA, USA.

Learn more here.

8th ESP World Conference

The Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) is a worldwide network, founded in 2008, to enhance the science and practical application of ecosystem services. To facilitate the needed dialogue between scientists, policy makers and practitioners ESP organises an annual international conference in different parts of the world. The central theme is ‘Ecosystem Services for Nature, People and Prosperity’. The conference will pay special attention to the public and private sector dialogue on how the ecosystem services concept can be used to support conservation, improve livelihoods and engage the business community. 9-13 November 2015. Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Learn more here.

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