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This Week In Biodiversity: Ramping Up Candidate Species Conservation Incentives

New developments in the species banking sector from a case study on developing a market for gopher tortoise habitat credits to approval of a five-state incentives-based plan for the lesser-prairie chicken. Meanwhile, the debate continues over if biodiversity offsets should be permitted in the UK. And remember to support Ecosystem Marketplace with a donation to the Forest Trends campaign in the Social Entrepreneurs Challenge.

New developments in the species banking sector from a case study on developing a market for gopher tortoise habitat credits to approval of a five-state incentives-based plan for the lesser-prairie chicken. Meanwhile, the debate continues over if biodiversity offsets should be permitted in the UK. And remember to support Ecosystem Marketplace with a donation to the Forest Trends campaign in the Social Entrepreneurs Challenge.

This article was originally published in the MitMail newsletter. Click here to read the original.

7 November 2013 | Greetings! Right now, we’re entering the final stretch of the Skoll Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurs Challenge. When you donate to Forest Trends, we get matching funds from Skoll too. There’s a bonus challenge this week: if we get the greatest number of donations this week, we’ll get an additional $5,000 for our organization. That means funding to pursue special projects, like in-depth coverage of the stories that matter to you.


It doesn’t matter how much you donate – just how many of you do.
Even a very small gift counts! If you make ten small donations, that counts ten times. If you’ve been thinking about supporting us, now is a great time to do so. Click here to help out – remember, right now, your donations are leveraged. (And as a 501(c)3, contributions to us are tax-deductible.)

 

As for the news, we have some new developments on candidate species banking and incentives – including a new case study on developing a market for gopher tortoise habitat credits. A five-state incentives-based plan for the lesser prairie chicken was also just approved last month, though it’s not clear yet how it would interact with a developing habitat credit exchange for the prairie chicken in the same region.
   

We’ve also got coverage of a recent “Office Hour” chat on marine ecosystem services, the ongoing national debate over biodiversity offsets in the UK, and a pair of stories on the renewable energy-biodiversity interface. A solar thermal project in California is struggling a bit on designing effective compensatory mitigation – while a solar project in Devon, England is expected to be a pretty straightforward win for biodiversity in the area.
 

How can impacts be so different? Location, for one thing: one is in the desert and the other on agricultural lands. But it’s also a matter of balancing clean energy and wildlife protection goals. We expect that stories like the two above are just going to increase in coming years. It’s an issue that doesn’t get the kind of coverage it deserves, and which we love writing about. If you find our work useful, consider donating. This week, even a tiny donation can translate into a big impact.


All the best,

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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



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EM Exclusives

Communicating Marine Ecosystem Services Values: An “Office Hour” Highlights Reel

Linwood Pendleton, the Director of Ocean and Coastal Policy at Duke University and manager of the Marine Ecosystem Services Partnership, recently answered questions on marine and coastal ecosystem services during an interactive ‘Office Hour’ online chat. Pendleton offered his insights into the science, the politics, and the economics of developing results-based financing for oceans. Conversation was wide-ranging and touched on whether valuation is always the right strategy, tools and models, and just why marine ecosystem services are so tough to protect. If you missed the chat, Ecosystem Marketplace has coverage of highlights.

Read more here.


Why and How to Invest in Forested Landscapes

The United States faces an infrastructure crisis that will only get worse as climate change takes hold. Last month, the World Resources Institute, together with Earth Economics and the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, published a detailed examination of the science, the finance, and the business case for meeting the challenge with new investments in forests and green infrastructure.

 

The guide is intended to be a foothold for those who can champion natural infrastructure in water utilities, local conservation groups, and private businesses, and who need a persuasive case, a road map of next steps, and overarching guidance to do so. It attempts to provide the resources, science and economics, illustrations, and guidance needed to foster meaningful dialogue with watershed decision makers and stakeholders around natural infrastructure options, to secure adoption and commitment, and to begin early design and implementation steps on solid footing.

Keep reading.


Mitigation News

On the Plains, An Array of Incentive Proposals for the Prairie Chicken

In October, federal regulators endorsed a voluntary conservation plan introduced by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies that uses incentives to protect the lesser prairie chicken, and thus keep it off the federal endangered species list. US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said the Service will consider the plan when making a listing decision in March 2014. The plan would ramp up voluntary conservation incentives in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, and sets a population goal of 67,000 lesser prairie chickens within a decade. Funds for incentives would come from impact and enrollment fees; oil and gas companies would pay a minimum of $20,000 to enroll.


The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies haven’t yet taken a position on another incentive-based proposal to protect the prairie chicken: a habitat credit exchange backed by the Environmental Defense Fund and a number of oil and gas companies. The exchange would take the idea a step further, and create marketable habitat credits that could be sold at auction to mitigate for impacts to prairie chicken habitat. As of yet, the proposal also is awaiting Fish & Wildlife Service approval. Meanwhile, a recent survey suggested that the prairie chicken population fell by a startling 50% between 2012-2013 – down to an estimated 17,600 prairie chickens in the five-state area that would be covered by the plan.

Learn more about the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ plan.
The Wall Street Journal covers the proposed habitat credit exchange.


UK Offset Project Moves Forward Amidst a National Debate

The Telegraph last month covered the UK’s first fully realized example of biodiversity offsetting, with a story on an Oxfordshire grassland offset. A housing development was required to offset impacts to nine acres of already-degraded lowland meadow. The builder contracted with offsetting specialists with the Environment Bank to restore and protect a site eleven miles away. Project costs, including arranging for long-term management arragements by the charity Earth Trust, has so far totaled £43,000 (about USD $68,000).


The project may find itself getting a lot of unanticipated attention lately, with a proposal to scale up offsetting nationwide a subject of intense debate over whether offsets are a useful economic tool for conservation or a “license to trash.” For his own part, Environment Bank CEO Tom Tew points out to the Telegraph that offsets will make high-ecological-value sites less attractive to developers, and that “it is hard to imagine that it could be any worse” than the current planning process.

Get the story from the Telegraph.


The Tortoise As Guinea Pig: Candidate Species Markets’ First Test

A new case study from the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) examines the case of the gopher tortoise in the United States. The US Fish & Wildlife is currently considering a threatened species designation for the gopher tortoise’s entire range in the southeastern US. PERC offers an overview of candidate conservation banking, wherein private landowners receive incentives for protecting ‘candidate’ species like the gopher tortoise from parties looking to mitigate for their impacts – the US Department of Defense could be one major buyer. “If a voluntary, pre-compliance market can work for the gopher tortoise, the door will be open for other imperiled species seeking healthy habitat on private land,” writes author Laura Huggins. The candidate credit market for the gopher tortoise is expected to go live in 2014.

Read the case study here.


It’s Groundhog Day in Congress

A bill as big as the Farm Bill (it authorizes half a trillion dollars in federal subsidies) is bound to be the source of arguments in Congress. But a major sticking point in the efforts to pass a new Farm Bill is of interest to the environmental world: whether to re-include conservation compliance requirements, which would link crop insurance subsidies to farmers’ implementing basic environmental protection measures when it comes to soil, water quality, and wetlands. If this sounds familiar – it should. The same issue came up last summer during a failed attempt to pass a new Farm Bill before the last one expired. Right now, representatives from the House Ag Committee are horse-trading with their Senate counterparts, with the goal of getting a bill passed before the end of the year.

E&E News covers the conservation compliance debate.
Read our past coverage on the Farm Bill.


Rwanda Takes Up NatCap Accounting

Rwanda’s Ministry of Natural Resources and the World Bank in early October inked a deal to introduce natural capital accounting (NCA) in the country through the World Bank’s Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) initiative. The chair of Rwanda’s new NCA steering committee says the approach is critical in a country like Rwanda, where careful management of natural capital is necessary: “Rwanda has few natural resources compared to its huge population,” he noted. Minister of Natural Resources Stanislas Kamanzi added that he hoped valuation would guide investment and planning decisions. “If you have wealth and you measure it in part, you cannot use it all,” he said.

Read more at All Africa.


Offsets for Next-Gen Solar Thermal Project a Moving Target?

Recent public hearings found scientists and regulators thinking through exactly what compensatory mitigation is going to look like for BrightSource Energy’s proposed 500-megawatt Palen solar thermal plant in Riverside County, California. It seems clear enough that offsets will be needed: “We do believe this is an unmitigatable project [onsite]” said Chris Huntley, a biologist for the California Energy Commission during his testimony. But uncertainties about impacts to birds from solar flux (i.e. intense radition from concentrated sunlight used to power a steam turbine), as well as to sand dune corridors critical to Mojave fringe-toed lizards, remain. Commission officials say that means mitigation plans may change during and after construction, as better information emerges.

The Desert Sun covers the story.


Meanwhile, Solar Project in Devon Claims to Increase Biodiversity

Developers of a proposed 6.5 MW solar project on agricultural land in Devon, England, say it would actually boost biodiversity in the area. Lightsource Renewable Energy would create new hedgerows, seed wildflower meadows, and install mammal gates to enable movement of small animals in and out of the fenced site near Yelverton. Lightsource’s planning and development director Conor McGuigan explained: “The diversification of farmland with solar is a tried and tested solution for us, and we believe that when it is done responsibly it is a revolutionary way to generate clean, locally produced energy whilst retaining the land’s agricultural use and supporting local farm businesses.”

Learn more.


Wildlife Refuges Add $2B to the US Economy Each Year

A new study from the US Fish and Wildlife Service documents more than $2 billion a year in economic activity driven by the country’s federal wildlife refuges. Wildlife refuges also generated $343 million in tax revenues for local, state, and federal government, and created 35,000 jobs. Three-quarters of economic activity – including entrance fees and local business generated – comes from recreational birders, hikers, and picnickers; the remainder comes from hunting and fishing. In a statement, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said that the federal wildlife refuge system is “the world’s greatest network of lands dedicated to wildlife conservation, but it is also a powerful economic engine for local communities across the country.”

Learn more.


NJ Wetlands In-Lieu Fee Program in Hot Water with the US EPA

The Garden State’s gotten a slap on the wrist from the federal government for failing to spend wetland mitigation fees and lacking a watershed planning approach to mitigation projects, putting it out of compliance with the 2008 federal mitigation rule and the Clean Water Act. A US Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson said that the state Wetlands Mitigation Council’s been sitting on more than $2 million in mitigation funds for over three years. The Council says a lack of staff – it relies on volunteer members – is behind it missing the June 2013 deadline to comply with the 2008 Rule. It’s asked the EPA for an extension until December to submit a new plan for approval.

Read more here.


South Australian Gov’t In Trouble Over Rumored Offset Fee Hikes

The South Australia state government is experiencing some blowback from the public over rumors that it plans to increase offset payment rates into the Native Vegetation Fund. Local governments including the Port Augusta City Council are not happy about higher offset fees, citing regional development concerns. Conservation and Land Management executive director Brenton Grear took the defense, saying that offsets have not been as effective as expected. “What is occurring is a review of the policies that apply to what is known as ‘offsetting’ when an application to clear native vegetation is made,” Grear wrote in a letter to the editor last month. The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources would not confirm whether offset fees would increase.

The Port Augusta Transcontinental has the story.


EVENTS

 


Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development

The Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development will bring together business leaders, NGOs and policy-makers from around Southeast Asia to discuss commitments and policy recommendations to increase sustainability across seven sectors – agriculture & forestry, palm oil, consumer goods, mining, financial services, building & urban infrastructure and energy.The forum will discuss the transformational journey to the green economy and offer practical ways to accelerate business solutions and policy frameworks for a more sustainable world. 18-19 November 2013. Singapore.

Learn more here.


World Forum on Natural Capital

The inaugural World Forum on Natural Capital will be the first major global conference devoted exclusively to turning the debate on natural capital accounting into action. It will build on the enormous private sector interest shown at the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio in June 2012 and the many developments that have taken place since. The World Forum on Natural Capital will bring together world-class speakers, cutting edge case studies and senior decision makers from different sectors, in order to turn the debate into practical action. Lively plenaries and interactive breakout sessions in four conference streams will explore the risks and opportunities for business, allow access to the very latest developments and provide an opportunity to help shape the debate through dialogue between policymakers, business leaders and prominent experts in the field. 21-22 November 2013. Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

Learn more here.


2014 National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference

The only national conference that brings together key players in this industry, and offers quality hands-on training and education sessions and important regulatory updates. Learn from & network with the 400+ attendees the conference draws, offering perspectives from bankers, regulators, and users. 6-9 May 2014. Denver, Colorado.

Learn more here.


Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration

CEER is a Collaborative Effort of the leaders of the National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (NCER) and the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER). It will bring together ecological and ecosystem restoration scientists and practitioners to address challenges and share information about restoration projects, programs, and research from across North America. Across the continent, centuries of unsustainable activities have damaged the aquatic, marine, and terrestrial environments that underpin our economies and societies and give rise to a diversity of wildlife and plants. This conference supports SER and NCER efforts to reverse environmental degradation by renewing and restoring degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats for the benefit of humans and nature. CEER is an interdisciplinary conference and brings together scientists, engineers, policy makers, restoration planners, partners, NGO’s and stakeholders from across the country actively involved in ecological and ecosystem restoration. 28 July – 1 August 2014. New Orleans, LA.

Learn more here.


JOBS

 


Team Leader and Senior Consultant

Face the Future – Noord-Holland, Netherlands

Face the Future is hiring a Team Leader and Senior Consultant Natural Resource Management (combined function) who will be primarily responsible for the management, strategy development and implementation of the Environmental Advisory unit and the Project Development unit, with a strong focus on business development. Responsibilities:

 

  • Further develop and implement the strategy for business opportunities for the Environmental Advisory unit and the Project Development unit.
  • Create and build relationship with clients, partners, funders and investors, developing the consultancy business in the landscape development, forestry and climate change sector.
  • Represent Face the Future in our business network and in conferences and workshops.
  • Manage the team of NRM experts.
  • Provide consultancy in the field of (carbon) forestry, PES and agroforestry.
  • Access finance for PES and integrated landscape management projects, including forest carbon projects.
  • Supervise the development of forest carbon projects and other PES projects.

 

Learn more here.


Administration and Finance Officer, Coastal Resources Management Program

Wildlife Conservation Society – Bata, Equatorial Guinea

The Administration and Finance Officer is a full-time position, based in the city of Bata, Equatorial Guinea. Key duties include:

 

  • Set up and administer a financial management system to ensure that the program funds are administered based on WCS practices and policies.
  • Ensure that financial information flows smoothly between the program and the Global Services Center of WCS/NY.
  • Install and manage WCS accounting software.
  • Elaborate appropriate administrative policies for managing purchasing, inventory, vehicle use, and other matters.
  • Support the INDEFOR-AP administrator in the management of subgrants to ensure compliance with WCS financial management practices and policies.
  • Support INDEFOR-AP to define and implement measures to strengthen its ability to manage financial resources according to international standards of efficiency and transparency.
  • Train the Administrative Assistant to assume greater responsibility for program management.

Learn more here.
 

 


Additional resources

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