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This Week in Biodiversity: Biodiversity in a REDD+ World

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 here.

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15 November 2011 | As the days keep getting shorter, over here at the Ecosystem Marketplace we're finding ourselves looking south. For good reason: as work continues on a REDD+ framework, we're eagerly waiting to see how biodiversity protection might fit into a large-scale forest payments program in developing countries. Will carbon payments help deliver financial and technical support to biodiversity protection and monitoring, or could REDD+ driven afforestation actually be bad news for high biodiversity-value areas?

In this MitMail, we cover some new developments on that front, including recent Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) workshops on incorporating biodiversity safeguards into REDD+ and a new manual on social & biodiversity impact assessment for REDD+ projects, coauthored by our parent organization Forest Trends. It remains to be seen to what extent CBD commitments to indigenous/local community participation and biodiversity protection make it into the final product of its collaboration with the UNFCC. We certainly have our fingers crossed.

Read on for the latest news in biodiversity market mechanisms. And as always, if you value what you read here, consider becoming a supporting subscriber. Your support helps us keep the lights on and keeps biodiversity news and analytics coming to your inbox every month, free of charge. Make a donation here.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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




News

Making REDD+ Projects Work for Biodiversity and Communities

Are land-based carbon projects good for local people, biodiversity, and ecosystem services? Social and Biodiversity Impact Assessment Manual for REDD+ Projects is a new user-friendly manual on conducting cost-effective and credible social and biodiversity impact assessment. It’s the product of a joint effort by the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance, Forest Trends, Fauna & Flora International, and the Rainforest Alliance, and should be useful to a wide range of site-level land-based carbon activities, whether designed for compliance or voluntary markets.

- Download the manual here


Biodiversity for Bankers

 

Bank executives wondering what this "biodiversity risk" thing is all about are in luck. A new initiative, Biodiversity 4 Banks (B4B) will offer a series of trainings on to assess biodiversity impacts in lending decisions. The program was spurred by recent revisions to IFC Performance Standards to include biodiversity impacts, and by a recent strategic review in the Equator Principles identifying a need for capacity-building around biodiversity. B4B is a joint project of the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP), Citi banking group, and WWF.

 

- Read a press release here
- Visit the B4B resources center on the Equator Principles website here


Mitigation News
Biodiversity Safeguards in a REDD+ World

 

A Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)submission to the UNFCCC summarizing a series of workshops on biodiversity safeguards under a REDD+ regime is now available for perusal online. The workshops identified a number of gaps in existing biodiversity safeguard frameworks - most notably a general lack of capacity for measuring REDD+ impacts on biodiversity, and poor understanding of risks to biodiversity from REDD+ related afforestation, or displaced deforestation to areas of low carbon value but high biodiversity value.

 

On the upside, the documents note, there’s potential for REDD+ to deliver much-needed technical and financial support for monitoring biodiversity, and result in better overall coordination between the CBD and UNFCCC. The workshops also called for improved platforms for payment for ecosystem service practitioners to contribute knowledge to building biodiversity safeguards into a REDD+ framework.

 

- Download the CBD submission here (pdf)


Measuring Site-Level Ecosystem Services: Not Just for Scientists Anymore

The UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre just released a new toolkit, Measuring and Monitoring Ecosystem Services at the Site Scale. It's designed to guide non-experts and those with limited resources in producing scientifically robust ecosystem service assessments. Special attention is paid to evaluating trade-offs from land-use change, and "winners" and "losers" in different land use scenarios.

- Learn more and download the toolkit here


Europe Ties its Agricultural Subsidies to Ecosystem Goals

A proposal in the European Commission's (EC) planned reforms to its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) caught our eye: the Commission aims to link 30 percent of direct payments with "improved use of natural resources" including the preservation of environmental landscapes and natural ecosystems. The goal, according to an EC memorandum, is to ensure that agricultural producers "deliver environmental and climate benefits as part of their everyday activities" and help Europe meet its biodiversity targets for 2020. The reformed CAP would take effect after 2013.

- Read a press release on the CAP reform proposals here
- Read a memorandum on reforms to direct payments (pdf)


The Extractive Industry Gets Its Biodiversity Close-Up

The Natural Value Initiative, which has previously looked at ecosystem risk for pharmaceutical companies, just released a new report examining biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES) risk - reputational, operational, and financing - faced by the oil, gas and mining industries. Findings were mixed: while many of the 30 companies surveyed were assessing BES risk, none are yet managing it. About a third reported interest in participating in environmental markets, especially the US wetland mitigation banking sector and REDD activities. Recommended best practice approaches heavily featured the use of biodiversity offsets to manage risk.

- Read a press release
- Download the Report & Executive Summary here


How Do You Offset the Great Barrier Reef?

The construction of three gas processing plants located within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage site is raising questions about whether biodiversity offset policies are working as they should in Australia. The WWF has expressed strong concerns about impacts to critical seagrass bed habitats from dredging activities, as well as the government’s commitment in practice to environmental protection. From the WWF's point of view, "it speaks volumes that the dredging was allowed to begin well before a biodiversity offset strategy...had to be submitted." UNESCO agrees: it recently announced construction activities a breach of World Heritage Guidelines and is planning to dispatch a "reactive monitoring mission" to the site.

- Get the story here


One Biodiversity Standard to Rule Them All

 

Talks have kicked off about linking the European Biodiversity Standard with the Biodiversity Check assessment, currently the two dominant standards in the EU, to create a comprehensive European biodiversity accreditation scheme for business. The IUCN is spearheading efforts with members of the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign, the European Centre for Nature Conservation and other parties to align the two approaches, which both offer frameworks for the private sector to identify and manage biodiversity impacts.

 

- Learn more here


Do We Smell Money for Coastal Wetland Protection?

 

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced its new work program - the largest ever - last week, delivering over $4.5 billion from GEF and its partners for projects around the world. We're especially intrigued by the "Blue Forests" initiative, which will develop methodologies to measure the 'blue carbon' storage potential of coastal and marine systems, and estimate their economic value. Mangroves, salt marshes, and other coastal habitats have been shown to sequester blue carbon even more effectively than terrestrial habitats.

 

- Read a press release here


Here's a New One: Rodent Offsets

Australia’s fishing industry operations accidentally kill thousands of seabirds every year, and a trio of researchers has suggested a rather creative use of biodiversity offsets to address the problem. Rather than banning fishing outright, or requiring bird-safe technology (which at the moment doesn't work well), why not protect seabird populations by tackling threats on another front: on land? Noting that invasive species are a bigger threat to seabirds overall than fishery bycatch, a recent article recommends requiring fishers to compensate for bycatch via invasive rodent eradification. According to their numbers, it would be "at least ten times more effective than area closures" to protect seabirds.

- Get the full story here


US MITIGATION NEWS


So Much for 'No Net Loss’

 

US Fish & Wildlife Service's new Status and Trends of Wetlands 2004-2009 report is out, and it’s got some bad news. The report finds that while the national rate of wetland re-establishment rose over the five year period studied, it wasn’t enough to keep pace with wetland loss. Coastal and forested wetlands posted especially worrisome increases in the rate of loss. Regionally-specific trends are less clear, given the methodology: findings are based on statistical sampling and not a comprehensive national inventory.

- Get analysis at the Compleat Wetlander blog
- Download the report


How to Support Ecosystem Market Growth, Maryland-Style

 

Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources' Ecosystem Services Working Group (ESWG) has delivered its final report to the state. It’s well worth a read, offering a review of the state of ecosystem service markets in Maryland and policy suggestions for supporting market growth further. Among the ESWG’s key recommendations:

 

  • Adopt a "no-net-loss" policy towards forests, and giving preference to mitigation banking over in-lieu fees for forest mitigation
  • Work with the US Army Corps of Engineers to remove strict requirements under the federal Mitigation Rule in order to encourage more private mitigation banks. The ESWG also recommends reforming use of in-lieu fees to make banks more competitive, and adjusting the mitigation ratio to bring mitigation bank ratio requirements in line with other types of mitigation.
  • Develop conservation banking programs for threatened and endangered species (currently there’s just one, inactive, species bank in the state), and incorporate co-benefits for these species into other mitigation banking programs.

 

 

- Download the report here (pdf)


A Match Made in Salmon Heaven

Oregon’s Willamette Partnership recently was awarded a CIG grant to partner with the Salmon-Safe program to explore ways to harmonize standards and protocols between ecosystem service markets and eco-labeling initiatives (the Partnership has already developed protocols for both salmonid habitat and water temperature credits). Finding ways to link eco-labeling with the ecosystem marketplace could boost both demand and financing for ecological restoration.

- Read more in the Willamette Partnership's recent newsletter (article on page three)


$90 Million Coastal Wetland Project Completed in Southern California

Public officials, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric cut the ribbon this week on a $90 million project to restore coastal wetlands in the San Diego area. The 150-acre project - now one of the largest estuaries on the West Coast - is part of an offset strategy to mitigate impacts from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station's cooling systems.

- Get the story here


Making Payments for Ecosystem Services at Home on the Range

In a survey of ranchers in California’s Central Valley, Defenders of Wildlife found strong interest - amount to three quarters of respondents - in voluntary PES programs, especially those that compensate ranchers for providing wildlife habitat. The survey also turned up some useful information for structuring payment for ecosystem service mechanisms on rangelands, including preferences for shorter contracts, larger payments, and keeping administrative work to a minimum. Ranchers indicated a strong preference for payment programs administrated by either non-profit or private sector organizations; additional government regulation seems to be the main deterrent from participating in PES.

- Read the Executive Summary here (pdf)


Big Debate over Bigger Mitigation Ratios in Louisiana

 

Mitigation in the Terrebonne area of Louisiana may be about to get more expensive, and the locals are not happy about it. Recent changes to Army Corps of Engineers rules increase mitigation ratios - which govern how much wetland must be restored or protected per acre impacted - for new projects to up to three acres of mitigation per acre of impact. Corps officials say the changes were necessary to bring the region in line with other corps districts in Louisiana and other states, and will make mitigation requirements clearer for developers early on. Right now mitigation in the district costs about $20,000 an acre.

 

- Get the story here


JOB OPENINGS

 

CBD Executive Secretary

UNEP is seeking candidates for the position of Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) at the level of Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. Following the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Nagoya, the Executive Secretary is expected to fully implement the Convention’s programme of work, its newly approved plans and strategies, with a specific focus on the implementation of the newly adopted protocols. This position is based in Montreal (Canada).

- Learn more here

 

 

Environmental Economics Specialist, Cambodia Payment for Ecosystem Services Project

S/he will have strong practical experience in the development of pro-poor PES policies, legislation and regulations in accordance with international best practice, demonstrable skills in valuing ecosystem services values as well as significant experience in designing pro-poor PES benefit sharing schemes. S/he will have an advanced degree or equivalent level qualification in a relevant discipline such as environmental economics and/or substantial experience in a related role. Experience working in the south-east Asia region is desirable.

- Learn more here

 

 

UNDP Lao PDR, Consultant: Short term National Consultant Ecosystems Specialist

UNDP Lao PDR is seeking a qualified short-term Lao national expert to fill the position of an Ecosystems Specialist, working alongside an international project development specialist and national infrastructure specialist. The main project components to be designed include: (i) strengthening planning, budgeting and budget implementation to reduce climate and disaster related risks; (ii) providing small scale rural infrastructure investments to address and minimize climate risks; (iii) and ensuring that infrastructure investment is linked to and underpinned by natural systems by securing critical ecosystem services and assets.

- Click here for more information

 

KPMG Advisory - Biodiversity (Sustainability)

As the sustainability assurance market grows, CC&S will need to have increasing numbers of SMEs with strong credentials that the assurance team can leverage. CC&S seeks deep subject matter specialists in sustainability subjects such as biodiversity mitigation, ohs and/ or community/social impacts. S/he would have experience in strategy, KPI development, policy development and analysis and impact analysis and reporting. Multi-sectoral preferred with particular interest in pension/super funds (e.g., CALpers) and ENR (e.g., Anglo or Chevron). Ideally the candidate would come from industry or a highly rated and connected think tank/NGO like WBCSD/WRI.

- Learn more here

 

The Natural Capital Project, Ecosystem Service Analyst

The Natural Capital Project seeks someone with expertise in the development of simple models through regression analyses and/or simplification of complex models to develop ranking models for multiple freshwater and terrestrial ecosystem services. These models will identify where ecosystem service change is most likely to happen across landscapes. They will be the backbone for decision support tools that are being tailored for water fund design and permitting requirements in Latin America and beyond. We seek applicants with diverse experience in the development and use of statistical analyses and/or models to inform natural resource decisions, and with a desire to think creatively about a broad set of biophysical and social processes. The position is a postdoctoral research position located in Palo Alto, California at Stanford University and will require extensive interaction with interdisciplinary teams and travel in Latin America.

- Learn more about the position here

 

 

 

 

Madagascar Fauna Group Program Manager

The PM position is based in and near the town of Tamatave on Madagascar’s east coast; the MFG has its office in Tamatave, which houses also our environmental library. Principal work sites are at Parc Ivoloina (12 km from Tamatave) and at Betampona Reserve (40 km from Tamatave). Typically the PM will spend the majority of his/her time in the Tamatave office with regular visits to Parc Ivoloina every week, and he/she typically will travel to Betampona once monthly. The PM will work to ensure the sustainability of the two programs by providing operational support and oversight for all MFG activities and in-country budgets. The PM will work to increase the capacity of the Malagasy staff to professionally manage the projects with increasing independence. The PM will also drive implementation of a business plan with marketing steps to promote financial self-sufficiency of some aspects of Parc operations.

- Click here for more information

 

 

 

 

 


UPCOMING EVENTS

 

 

Ranching at the Frontier: Ecosystem Services and Decision Tools

The Western Center for Integrated Resource Management in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State University, along with the National Western Stock Show Scholarship Trust Fund, is pleased to host the 12th annual Nick Petry Workshop. The workshop will include topics designed to help Colorado ranching carry on its legacy by being prepared to meet the demands of modern range management. 2 December 2011. Denver, CO.

- Learn more here

 

 

Global Business of Biodiversity Symposium

2011 sees the launch of the 2nd Global Business of Biodiversity Symposium, aligned this year to also incorporate the 1st Global Business of Forests Conference as part of the International Year of Forests. It will be the most exciting private sector focused conference and exhibition to take place anywhere in the world bringing these two major foci together. It is a place for business leaders, experts and professionals, policy makers, NGO’s and other interested stakeholders operating internationally across all relevant sectors, to meet, network, debate issues, share experience, business intelligence and tools, develop understanding, extend knowledge and seek new business opportunities. 28 November 2011. London UK.

- Learn more here

 

 

The TEEB Conference 2012, Mainstreaming the Economics of Nature: Challenges for Science and Implementation

 

TEEB invites the research and policy community to Leipzig, Germany, to discuss the state of the art in Environmental Valuation, Ecosystem Services and Science-Policy Processes. Conference participants will have the possibility to discuss and update the findings of the TEEB study and contribute with their own findings, experiences and approaches to a new understanding of the link between economics, decision-making and the environment. 19-22 March, Leipzig, Germany.

- Learn more here

 

SAC-SEPA Biennial conference: Valuing Ecosystems: Policy, Economic and Management Interactions

This conference will seek to present not only the best possible scientific understanding of the complexities associated with the delivery of multiple ecosystem services but also provide a forum to raise and discuss what still needs to be done to have an ecosystem approach recognised and supported by land managers, researchers and policy makers. 3-4 April 2012. Edinburgh, Scotland.

- Learn more here

 

Biodiversity Without Boundaries Conference

The annual NatureServe Conservation & Natural Heritage Conference, "Biodiversity Without Boundaries" will be held in Portland, OR April 22-26, 2012. Ecosystem services is one of the featured topics on the agenda, which will include a full day of sessions and workshops on this theme. Learn all the details about this conference at http://connect.natureserve.org/BWB2012. The call for presentations is open through November 15, 2011. 22-26 April 2012. Portland OR.

- Learn more here

 

 

National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference

The only national conference that brings together key players in this industry, and offers quality hands-on sessions and important regulatory updates. Learn from & network with the 400+ attendees the conference draws, offering perspectives from bankers, regulators, and users. 8-11 May 2012. Sacramento CA.

- Learn more here

 

 

9th INTECOL International Wetlands Conference

The mission of the 9th INTECOL International Wetlands Conference is to provide a platform to review advances in the physical, biogeochemical, and social sciences as they are related to wetlands, to provide integrated solutions for sustainable management of wetland resources in a complex world, and to facilitate professional relationships at regional to international scales. 3-8 June 2012. Orlando, FL.

- Learn more here