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This Week in Biodiversity Markets: Newer Banks and Bigger Names on Mitigation Landscape

Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue says he’s opening his own mitigation bank as part of the state’s plan to make itself "drought proof", and a new wetland bank has been proposed for Clark County, Washington.  Here’s a quick summary of the latest news from the worlds of species and wetland mitigation banking.

Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue says he’s opening his own mitigation bank as part of the state’s plan to make itself “drought proof”, and a new wetland bank has been proposed for Clark County, Washington.   Here’s a quick summary of the latest news from the worlds of species and wetland mitigation banking.

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.

10 January 2011 | The year just past was a turbulent one for biodiversity finance, as your 2010 Retrospective made clear. We’ve also compiled quick rundowns on the year just past in Water , Voluntary Carbon , and Forest Carbon markets from Ecosystem Marketplace.

Keep your eyes peeled for our 2011 outlook, in which we try to identify the megatrends that will impace all ecosystem markets in the coming year.

Making the priceless valuable comes at a price

Biodiversity is the embodiment of the richness and diversity of nature, and unlike carbon, cannot be simplified into a single, fungible commodity.   Even so, there are innovative mechanisms linking economics and conservation ecology, like biodiversity offsets and habitat banking.

But in this nascent market, data are few and far between. Ecosystem Marketplace is committed to being a trusted and transparent source of information on the metrics and mechanics of existing and developing biodiversity markets.   The program has created the only centralized source of US conservation bank information (www.SpeciesBanking.com), which will soon expand to cover biodiversity markets around the world, and our State of Biodiversity Markets report surveyed existing and developing biodiversity offset, compensation, and banking programs across the globe.

For over four years, Ecosystem Marketplace – a project of the 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Forest Trends – has delivered Mitigation Mail News Briefs   to in-boxes around the world. Mitigation Mail editors scour the news from all parts of the world to bring readers the most relevant market updates and insights – all packaged for quick digestion in a monthly news brief.

These kinds of insights present significant costs in both manpower and brainpower. To continue providing these services free of charge, Ecosystem Marketplace is asking for readers’ voluntary support.   For a voluntary donation of $150/year per reader, subscribers will continue to benefit from Ecosystem Marketplace’s informed briefings and we can in turn ensure the ongoing depth and quality of our reporting, as well as expansion of both current and new services.
 
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—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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



News

 

 
Mitigation News  

Building a “Reforestation Economy” in the Mata Atlí¢ntica

The non-governmental Terra Institute for Environmental Preservation (ITPA) is working to reforest a watershed that supplies Rio de Janeiro and establish a “reforestation market” to stimulate local job creation and local consumption in the environmentally damaged areas of Brazil’s Mata Atlí¢ntica forest.   Rampant deforestation has affected the quality and production of the water in the Santana River, one of the main tributaries of the Guandíº River which supplies water to 80 percent of the Rio metropolitan area.   The initiative will hire local workers and reduce travel distances to worksites.   The reforestation work will prevent soil erosion and landslides, limit water sources from drying up, and improve the quality of water.  

The ITPA estimates that the amount the Rio water treatment plant spends in three months to remove impurities is enough for a year of payments to all of the rural landowners in the Guandíº watershed for preserving their forests and maintaining environmental services. ITPA director Mauricio Ruiz defines the program as “a beginning of an ecological economy, a one-way journey” towards better social and economic prosperity for the region as well improved environmental services.

   – Read more here

 

BioBank Report ‘Lost in Cardboard Box’

BioBanking, the Australian biodiversity banking program that went live late in 2009 in the state of New South Wales, has just received a blow in credibility from an administrative error. A development project going through development stages had been approved with a certain amount of BioBanking credits being used to offset damage from the development. “Apparently lost for some months in a cardboard box,” a report has now come to light that concludes that current supply of BioBanking credits are insufficient to offset the damage of the development. The report, conducted by EcoLogical Australia, notes: “The 644.4 hectares of clearing requires 37,010 credits, while the 887.0 hectares of biobank site [being supplied by the developer] generates 9607 credits. This results in a shortfall of 27,403 credits. The results show that between 2614.5 to 4107 hectares of additional offset is required to satisfy the offset required by the biobanking assessment.”

   – Read more here

 

Official Launch of IPBES

The UN, at their most recent General Assembly, officially launched the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The initiative has been in the works for some time, and intends to emulate the IPCC with a biodiversity bent. The IPBES will “assess evidence on the causes and effects of nature degradation, and policy options.”

   – Read about the launch here

 

The Meta-Site of Biodiversity Priority Area Data

UNEP-WCMC has launched a new website on important biodiversity conservation areas, called the A-Z Areas of Biodiversity Importance http://www.biodiversitya-z.org/.   The site provides clear information on more than 30 different global classifications of areas of importance for biodiversity conservation. Want to see where Biodiversity Hotspots are? Ramsar Sites? IUCN Category IV areas? They’re all here, and more. It’s a party of global biodiversity priority area data.

   – Read a Press Release about the A-Z Areas of Biodiversity Importance

 

UN Adopts Resolutions on Coral Reefs and Marine Biodiversity

UN General Assembly’s Second Assembly has adopted a resolution on coral reefs that will encourage member States to take the necessary actions to conserve coral reefs, including mitigating damage from ocean acidification and climate change. However, the resolution, called “Protection of Coral Reefs for Sustainable Livelihoods and Development,” is currently non-binding. The Second Assembly also drafted language on marine biodiversity, voting to pass a resolution called “Oceans and the Law of the Sea”, that promotes technology transfer and capacity building in small islands and African States, but, despite its name, also forges no laws or binding commitments.

   – Read the story here

 

Moving Palm Oil to Already-Degraded Lands Saves Biodiversity

Degraded lands in tropical countries may hold the potential to help save remaining rainforests by shifting agriculture production to such lands in order to meet growing demand while minimizing impacts on forests and biodiversity loss. Norway began a billion-dollar partnership to reduce deforestation in Indonesia. Additionally, a project by the World Resources Institute (WRI) called POTICO (palm oil, timber, carbon offsets) is helping taking the first critical step towards utilizing these lands by providing land cover mapping.   WRI is placing a large focus on the palm oil industry where it is estimated that more than half of oil palm expansion has come at the expense of forests since 1990.  

Craig Hanson, the director of the People & Ecosystems Program at WRI, and Moray McLeish, the manager of Project POTICO at WRI, discuss factors that should be considered in order to guide decisions towards the best use of a degraded area: consultation with communities living near such areas, existing land and customary use rights, the degree of agricultural expansion on deforestation, food security in the region, risks of erosion near waterways, etc. WRI is also looking into a “land swap” approach to reduce deforestation and peatland degradation. This approach involves diverting planned palm oil plantations away from natural forests towards degraded lands.
 

   – Read more here

 

U.S MITIGATION NEWS

Former Georgia Governor Gets into Mitigation Banking

Former governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue, has purchased 157-acres of land along the Soque River outside of Atlanta, with plans to turn the area into a mitigation bank. The strategy seems strange in a state where development has fallen in response to falling real estate prices; but Perdue may have a trick up his sleeve: the area may be part of Atlanta’s plan to “drought-proof” itself, after a federal ruling limited the state’s claim to water in Lake Lanier. Drought-proofing would mean building more reservoirs, which means permits needed to impact wetlands, which means demand for wetland mitigation bank credits. While the land cost $3.7 million, it is estimated that the bank could yield $6 million from mitigation credits.  

 

Read more here  

 

Proposed Wetland Bank in Clark County, Washington

A newly proposed wetland mitigation bank aims to restore a portion of the 500 to 600 acre Fargher Lake in north Clark County, Washington.   If state and federal regulators approve the creation of the wetland mitigation bank, it will be the county’s second state-sanctioned mitigation bank, organized and operated by Habitat Bank Inc. from Woodinville, WA. The lake was originally drained for agricultural purposes 80 to 100 years ago, and restoration would include disabling the current drain tiles.

Habitat Bank partner Victor Woodward stated that the company aims to purchase conservation easements on six parcels owned by three different property owners.   The company has invested $2 million so far in developing the concept and seeking permits for its banks at Fargher Lake and another previously approved bank at the Port of Vancouver.   If approved and successful, the bank at Fargher Lake, called East Fork Lewis Wetland Mitigation Bank, would have 91 credits for sale at a market determined price, between $125,000 and $150,000 per credit. By the time it sells out Woodward expects that the bank will clear more than $8 million.  

 

Read about the wetland bank here
 

Habitat Conservation Profits Developer, Worries Rice Farmers in Yolo County, CA

Rice farmers in Yolo County, California, are concerned about the possibility of some valuable agricultural land being turned into seasonal salmon and smelt habitat. The Yolo bypass, an area of low-lying land, currently provides flood protection to nearby agricultural lands. If it is turned into a dedicated habitat, it will likely be flooded more often and for longer periods, affecting the planting calendar of the area’s farmers. County officials approved a plan by a developer from Sacramento, who would turn 4,000 acres into habitat in exchange for concessions valued at $2 million. And more concessions are likely needed in order to carry out the State’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which would require the construction of a canal around the delta, with the impact likely offset by habitat credits from areas like Yolo County.  

 

Read more here

 

EVENTS

National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration

 The National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration has put out a call for abstracts for oral or poster presentations   (deadline: January 14) at the 2011 conference to be held in August.


Register and read more about the conference here


Seminar exploring Biodiversity Offsetting in the UK

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology will hold a seminar later this month that will bring together experts to discuss he risks and benefits of biodiversity offsetting in the UK.

Register here

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