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This Week In Biodiversity: Conservation Eyes The Post-2015 Agenda

Jack Espuelas

Confirming biodiversity goals are integrated into the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals will likely be a key issue this year as talks unfold this month. Meanwhile, New York City is on its way to creating its first wetland mitigation bank, located on Staten Island, and Australia looks to alter its biodiversity policy.

20 January 2015 | Sometimes no news is good news. The 12th Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) didn’t grab global headlines like the year-end climate talks in Lima. But that’s because rather than making big decisions, parties have moved on to actually implementing them.
In 2015, attention will likely focus on efforts to integrate biodiversity targets into the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).That means getting all hands on deck, not just conservation-as-usual: “Biodiversity and ecosystems should be mainstreamed into the UN post 2015 sustainable development agenda,” says Susan Brown, Director of Global and Regional Policy at World Wildlife Fund. “This was a very clear message at COP12. CBD cannot achieve the Aichi targets in isolation. All sectors have to be involved.”

Also on the to-do list: trying to strengthen language in the SDGs on natural capital accounting (a long shot) and getting a better handle on global biodiversity finance needs, which the new Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) aims to do with a pathbreaking bottom-up analysis.

 

Mitigation banking in the US saw some big developments recently, with the first wetland bank in New York City funded and an announcement by Resource Environmental Solutions that it would acquire Environmental Banc & Exchange.

 

Meanwhile in Australia, an independent review of the New South Wales (NSW) biodiversity policy is calling for a scrapping of the existing Native Vegetation Act in favor of a landscape-scale approach and easier access to the offsets market for farmers – which farmers are pretty happy about. Meanwhile the NSW Office of Environmental Heritage is defending its approval of an offsets plan for a Rio Tinto mine expansion in the Hunter Valley.

 

Don’t forget to take a look at the jobs and events items at the bottom of the newsletter – we’ve got some good ones this month.

 

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

2015: The Year Biodiversity And Sustainable Development Finally Tie The Knot?

The 12th Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) didn’t grab global headlines like the year-end climate talks in Lima (COP 20), and it didn’t even generate the excitement of the early CBD COP 10, where Parties agreed on the Aichi Targets,or of the 2008 talks, when Parties agreed to integrate climate change into the workings of the CBD.

 

COP 12, however, moved the biodiversity ball forward in ways that are just as impressive as those ground-breakers, because parties actually started doing what they said they’d do, and took concrete steps towards integrating their objectives into existing initiatives.

 

“There weren’t a lot of new decisions at COP 12, because it was about implementation,” says Sebastian Winkler, a Senior Policy Advisor in Forest Trends’ Biodiversity Initiative. “It was about taking stock on where are we on the Aichi Targets and the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs).”

– Keep reading.

Opinion: Why Locals Shouldn’t Be Upset Over A Mitigation Bank Moving In

Owners of a California golf course are contemplating turning part of the property into a wetland bank, much to the dismay of some local residents. They claim the banks hold no real economic worth and could diminish property value. That’s not true, says a consultant to the mitigation banking industry: banks can lead to strong earnings and hold recreational value.

– Read the opinion piece at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Two New Ones from BBOP

Our sister initiative the Business and Business Offsets Programme recently released two new offerings:

 

Biodiversity Offsets: Policy Options for Governments

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the consideration of policy options by the IUCN Technical Study Group on biodiversity offsets and the subsequent Working Group, and to provide information more broadly to governments and their advisors. It is intended as a basic introduction to policy on No Net Loss or a Net Gain of biodiversity, and biodiversity offsets.

Read it here.

 

Case Study: Working towards NNL of Biodiversity and Beyond in Ambatovy, Madagascar

Ambatovy joined BBOP in 2006 as a pilot project. In 2009, Ambatovy, together with BBOP, published a case study on the company’s biodiversity management and offset work up to that point, available here. The present document serves as an update on Ambatovy’s progress achieved since then and following a second-party evaluation (pre-audit) against the BBOP Standard on Biodiversity Offsets and the International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standard 6.

Read it here.

2014: The Year In Biodiversity

Voluntary initiatives and integration were big topics of the biodiversity space in 2014. In the US, regulators and landowners grappled with new methods to protect dwindling species population in the face of encroaching development. Meanwhile, the international world continued to push for meaningful biodiversity conservation through a merging of agendas.

– Read our 2014 roundup here.

Mitigation News

Banking Arrives in the Big Apple

New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, closed out 2014 by setting in motion the city’s first wetland mitigation bank. An area in northwestern Staten Island damaged by Superstorm Sandy called Saw Mill Creek is slated to have wetlands restored. Once restored, the wetlands will absorb flood and storm surge waters for local businesses. They will also act as a mitigation bank for developers looking to offset their environmental impact. Initial finance for the mitigation bank and other resiliency-oriented projects in NYC comes from the Action Plan amendment. This plan is allocating $12 million for Saw Mill Creek restoration activities.

– Learn more here.

RES Acquires EBX

Ecological offset supplier Resource Environmental Solutions (RES) recently announced that it was acquiring Environmental Banc & Exchange (EBX). RES, the largest offset provider in the United States, has developed wetland, stream and habitat restoration projects on more than 20,000 acres across the country. EBX is a leading offset provider in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Appalachia.

 

Both sides sound pretty pleased: “RES is excited to welcome the EBX team, which has built a tremendous reputation in the mitigation banking industry,” said Elliott Bouillion, president and CEO of RES said in a press release. “EBX is a true pioneer—with more than 400 conservation easements closed, more than 90 ecosystem restoration projects completed, and 41 mitigation banks permitted.” “We’re thrilled to join RES,” said George Kelly, founder of EBX, who will be joining the RES management team along with EBX president Randy Wilgis. During an integration period, EBX will do business as ‘EBX, an RES company.’

– Read a press release.

Australian Farmers Wait for the Proof in the Pudding

Australian farmers in New South Wales (NSW) received an independent review on biodiversity policy with a warm response. The NSW Farmers Association says the review’s recommendations, which include repealing the current Native Vegetation Act in favor of a policy shift focusing on biodiversity on a regional scale versus pieces of property, signal significant changes. The report also recommends streamlining development assessment unpopular with the region’s farmers, and making it easier for farmers to buy and sell offsets. Before giving their full stamp of approval however, the NSW Farmers Association says it’ll need to see the new changes in action.

– Learn more from the Daily Examiner.

Wisconsin DNR Opens an In-Lieu Fee Option

Developers in Wisconsin now have three options when deciding how to fulfill their wetland mitigation requirement. Purchasing credits from a mitigation bank has been an option for some time, as has permittee-responsible offsets. But for the first time, developers have the choice to pay into an in-lieu fee program operated by the state Department of Natural Resources. The adoption of Wisconsin’s in-lieu fee program came after negotiations between the WDNR and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

– Learn more at the National Law Review.

Investment Fund To Back Sustainable Business in Latin America

A new $20M (EUR 17M) investment fund intends to promote sustainable development in Latin America by financing businesses in the region that contribute to biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources. Called the eco.business Fund, it’s a public-private partnership between Conservation International (CI) and German fund manager Finance in Motion, along with a German development bank, KfW. Inspired by CI’s Verde Ventures investment fund, the eco.business Fund will finance Latin American companies directly or through local intermediaries. Jennifer Morris of CI says, “The eco.business Fund provides crucial scaling up of investment and technical support in this sector, which is vital to the elimination of poverty and development of healthy, sustainable communities.”

– Read a press release.

IN My Backyard, Please

Supporters of marsh restoration in the San Francisco Bay Area want the 65-acre Brooklyn Basin development project, which will sit along the Oakland waterfront, to fulfill its federal mitigation requirement by restoring marsh habitat in the same area. But because the planned mitigation site falls on land in the public trust, mitigation cannot be ensured in perpetuity – but only for a maximum of 66 years. Following a directive from the Army Corps of Engineers, developers are planning to move their mitigation site into a different city. But local activists and a government agency charged with protecting the waterfront say mitigation is supposed to happen in the area actually feeling impacts from development, and a rare opportunity to restore wetlands along the Oakland shoreline is being lost. They’re pushing to find a way around the public trust issue through a legal agreement.

– The East Bay Express has coverage.

In NSW, Critics Want Rio Tinto to Slow its Roll

New South Wales’ Office of Environment and Heritage is defending its decision to approve biodiversity plans for a Rio Tinto project in the Hunter Valley. Local opponents cried foul at the approval appearing to be fast-tracked despite gaps in review of offset plans by OEH taff and limited public consultation. “Someone is pushing this very hard,” John Krey, president of the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association said. “It’s all happening at lightning speed.”

 

Rio Tinto responded with a defense of its offsets plan. “We have provided an 1800-hectare offset property that provides provision for addition to a national park as part of our extensive offsets package. This is on top of offsets of more than 1000 hectares and undertaking rehabilitation to 2100 hectares of disturbed land,” said a spokesperson.

– Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald.

Old Golf Course Becomes One of the Wild Places

Outside of Dayton, Ohio, a once trim and manicured golf course is becoming wild land again – but also profitable. The Five Rivers Metroparks bought the out-of-business golf course and is converting its 190 acres back into a mix of streams, grasses and wetlands. Once restored, this swath of land will become a mitigation bank with developers paying for its care to offset their environmental damage elsewhere. Turning shuttered golf courses into mitigation banks and parks or some other wildlife area is becoming more of a common story across the US. Development projects aren’t popular with locals living near golf courses, so it’s relatively easy for conservation groups to step in and acquire the properties.

– Get the full story on the project.

Mitigation Roundup

Credit price alert!

 

  • Fairfield, CA’s City Council will pay $169,200 to the Elsie Gridley Mitigation Bank for credits offsetting impacts to one-third of an acre of vernal pool crustacean habitat.
  • In Georgia, the Coweta County Board of Commissioners is purchasing 1,166 stream mitigation credits for $16,207 to offset a road project.
  • Meanwhile, the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program awarded $1M in grants funded by in-lieu fee payments to wetland and other habitat projects around the state.

 

India Renews Attempts to Enforce Biological Diversity Act

Litigation surrounding access to biological resources and benefit sharing in India may soon be cleared up. In November, the nation’s National Green Tribunal sent a notification to 500 companies regarding requirements under the Biological Diversity Act of 2002. Companies accessing natural resources for commercial use are required under this Act to pay a portion of their profits to the state exchequer. And if they don’t, they face fines, imprisonment or both. India’s state biodiversity boards welcome the recent notifications saying it streamlines collection efforts and gives them greater authority over benefit sharing.

– Read more here.

Conservation Trust Funds Receive a Helping Hand

Because the financial design of Conservation Trust Funds – private institutions that finance biodiversity conservation – is complex, the Conservation Finance Alliance (CFA) recently published Practice Standards to aid the process. These voluntary Practice Standards are meant to serve as a tool for improving the design, management and monitoring and evaluation of CTFs. They’re also intended to streamline international donor policies which should lower transactional costs for the funds. And as the CTF procedure is constantly evolving, so will the Practice Standards. The CFA says it will update them periodically.

– Get a copy of CFA’s new Practice Standards here.

Koch Bros Get Wildlife Certified

Six Koch companies recently received Wildlife at Work certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council in recognition of efforts to maintain wildlife habitat on corporate-owned lands. Koch companies in Texas, Wisconsin, and Mississippi have created wildlife preserves covering more than 3500 acres in total. Certification requires adherence to strict requirements and re-applying periodicially to maintain status.

– Read a press release.

JOB OPENINGS

 

Policy Manager – Ecosystem Services

Forest Stewardship Council – Bonn, Germany

FSC International is looking for a Policy Manager (Ecosystem Services) (male / female) to reinforce its Policy and Standards Unit in Bonn, Germany. Payment for Ecosystem Services is an area of potential for FSC to strengthen delivery of its mission and provide additional revenue streams to certificate holders to offset the costs of certification. FSC is expanding its system of forest management certification to include the certification of ecosystem service maintenance/enhancement at the forest level.

– Learn more here.

Marine Program Project Manager

The Nature Conservancy, Marine Program – Hawaii, USA

The Marine Program Project Manager develops and manages grant proposals and reports; crafts messaging around project and program objectives; communicates goals and results in writing; edits written materials; and develops budgets, metrics and schedules with input and buy-in from key stakeholders and team members. S/he critically assesses project scope and objectives for all grant proposals, ensuring all risks and dependencies are addressed in the project plan and in order to deliver successful project results that support the fulfillment of the objectives. S/he tracks and reports on roles and responsibilities within the project teams to successfully achieve identified goals in the most cost-effective and time-saving manner possible. The Project Manager obtains go/no-go decisions at all project decision points from the Project Lead or Director, and identifies and obtains approval for project deliverables from the appropriate staff or teams. Throughout the project lifecycle, the Project Manager monitors and measures project progress, identifies corrective action as necessary, and communicates project status information to all stakeholders. S/he performs risk management, issue resolution and conflict management, and collaboratively solves complex problems. S/he ensures all organizational and divisional standards are met. S/he acts as a resource to other staff and project managers to provide project management guidance, training, and expertise.

– Learn more here.

Kinship Conservation Fellows

Bellingham, Washington

Kinship Conservation Fellows is a groundbreaking environmental leadership program that emphasizes market-based solutions to environmental problems. Kinship’s dynamic global network of 210 Fellows in 48 countries and 6 continents is collaborative, entrepreneurial, and dedicated to effective conservation.The 2015 Program takes place from Sunday, June 28 – Wednesday, July 29, 2015 in Bellingham, Washington. Online applications are open through January 26, 2015.

– Learn more here.

Executive Assistant and Board Liaison

The Nature Conservancy, Caribbean Program – FL, USA

The Executive Assistant will manage the Director’s Administrative affairs, supporting communications, meetings and projects for the Director and the Board of Trustees. Also acts as the point person to the Board of Trustees on behalf of the Director. S/he must have advanced knowledge of the systems and resources utilized by the program in order to provide support and coordinate communications related to the resources. S/he will maintain, track, analyze, and report on key data for senior management. The Executive Assistant provides guidance and ensure compliance of policies and procedures, creating financial and technical reports and developing operational guidelines. S/he will communicate on behalf of the Executive Director and have substantial contact with stakeholders, including members of the board of directors, all levels of staff, donors, volunteers, vendors, and leaders and partners in the business, policy and conservation community. Duties require confidentiality, discretion, professional judgment and tact.

– Learn more here.

Resource Conservation Specialist

Seattle Housing Authority – Seattle WA, USA

Under general supervision, the Resource Conservation Specialist assists in minimizing Seattle Housing Authority’s (SHA) solid utility costs and environmental impact by contributing to an agency-wide resource conservation program. Core responsibilities include: providing technical support, information, training and assistance to staff and residents on proper procedures and practices related to resource conservation and engaging and working with residents, agency staff, community stakeholders, Seattle Public Utilities, and others to promote awareness of recycling and composting, along with other environmental initiatives such as water and energy conservation efforts.

– Learn more here.

Conservation Easement Steward

The Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire – New Hampshire, USA

The Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire seeks qualified candidates for the position of Conservation Easement Steward. The Conservation Easement Steward is a full time position responsible for completing the monitoring of conservation easements held by the Land Trust. With the Land Trust holding more than 200 conservation easement interests, the Conservation Easement Steward’s position is vital to the organization’s ability to meet our commitment to the long-term stewardship and protection of each property’s natural resources and easement purposes. The successful candidate will have excellent written and verbal communication skills, experience in and a passion for land conservation, a demonstrated ability to work effectively with partners and the desire to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment for a leading and growing Land Trust.

– Learn more here.

CoWood Education and Outreach Coordinator

Colorado State Forest Service – Colorado, USA

Under general supervision of the Utilization and Marketing Forester, the Colorado Wood Utilization and Marketing Program (CoWood) Education and Outreach Coordinator will be responsible for education and outreach program design and delivery on all aspects of the harvesting, manufacturing, and marketing of wood products for both internal and external audiences assisting the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) shape the future forests of Colorado. Applicants are expected to possess demonstrated knowledge of and ability to work with culturally diverse communities among potential target and constituent populations.

– Learn more here.

EVENTS

 

Yale 2015 Conference: Conserving biodiversity across multiple use landscapes through strategic governance and land-use planning

The International Society of Tropical Foresters, Yale Chapter proudly presents Conserving biodiversity across multiple use landscapes through strategic governance and land-use planning. This year’s conference responds to the increasing rate of biodiversity loss from rapid land-use conversion in the tropics, climate change, and the urgent need to adopt a landscape approach to conservation. This strategy consists of multiple stakeholder efforts to employ governance and land-use planning to facilitate biodiversity conservation across human-dominated, multiple-use landscapes. 29-31 January 2015. New Haven CT, USA.

– Learn more here.

Biodiversity, Sustainable Development, and the Law

The Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL), in a cooperative partnership with theUniversity of Cambridge Centre for Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Governance (C-EENRG) and Lauterpacht Centre for International Law (LCIL), the UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), among other partners, is delighted to announce this Call for Papers for the international conference Biodiversity, Sustainable Development and the Law. 20-22 February 2015. Cambridge, UK.

– Learn more here.

2015 National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference

The 2015 National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference, scheduled for May 5-8, 2015, in Orlando, Florida is the only national conference that brings together key players in this industry, and offers quality hands-on sessions and training as well as important regulatory updates. Proven to be “the” place to gain insights, explore new markets and learn from sessions, the 2015 Conference will continue its focus on educational content – both advanced and basic sessions as well as moderated exchanges and a variety of mini workshops that help to connect bankers, regulators, users and others involved in this industry. Pre and post- event workshops include Primer 101, Stream Banking, Long-Term Stewardship, Financing & Valuation and more. Hear perspectives from bankers, regulators and users, get updated on regulations, legislation and legal challenges, participate in field trips and benefit from the many opportunities to network! With a high attendance this past year, we anticipate a record attendance in Orlando and encourage you to make plans to submit to present, attend, even sponsor or exhibit!Orlando FL, USA. 5-8 May 2015.

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