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Ecosystem Marketplace, Marketplace Mitigation Mail

March 1, 2010

From the Editors

The Ecosystem Marketplace's Mitigation Mail
Conservation and Wetland News You Can Bank On

Forest Trends' Ecosystem Marketplace is pleased to announce the release of the ‘State of the Biodiversity Markets: Offset and Compensation Programs Worldwide.’ The report, which will be provided free to the public on Ecosystem Marketplace’s main page on March 5th, expands on our initiative to track conservation banks ( ) along with active and developing biodiversity offset and compensation programs around the world. The report represents a massive research effort, including: interviews and personal communication with over 60 key contacts around the world; outreach to over 60 US regulators; online research; and research of published articles and reports.

A sample of our research findings:

  • The global annual biodiversity market size is $1.8-$2.9 billion at minimum, and likely much more, as 80% of existing programs are not transparent enough to estimate their market size
  • 39 existing compensatory mitigation programs around the world, ranging from programs with active mitigation banking of biodiversity credits to programs channeling development impact fees to policies that drive one-off offsets
  • Another 25 programs in various stages of development or investigation
  • Within each active offset program, there are numerous individual offset sites, including over 600 mitigation banks worldwide
  • Yearly sales volume of mitigation banking in the US is about $1.2-2.4 billion, representing the sale of ecosystem service credits from environmental restoration and preservation of habitat ranging from Florida panther habitat to coastal wetlands to California tiger salamander habitat
  • US wetland and species credit prices range from about $1,500 to $600,000

For those in the Washington DC area, we would like to extend an invitation to attend the launch of the report, set for Tuesday, March 9th from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at the law offices of Hunton & Williams at 1900 K Street NW (12th floor), Washington DC. Space is limited, so please RSVP here:

This report is public and freely available due to the financial contributions from Ecosystem Marketplace donors: the United Nations Development Program and the Global Environment Facility; as well as our premium sponsors: Commission for Environmental Cooperation, New Forests; and sponsors: USDA Forest Service – International Programs, Markit, Grantham Foundation, eftec, and the Nature Conservancy.

On a sad note, the conservation community has lost a valuable ally with the passing of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Sam Hamilton this Saturday. Of endangered species, Hamilton said "Our focus is on trying to recover endangered species; our goal is to try to get them off the list. So as long as we keep our eye on that goal and work on definitions and work on policy to further that goal, we’ll be in good shape."

Read on for inspiring news on biodiversity markets.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at


Party Animals - The International Year of Biodiversity

It might be the Year of the Tiger according to the Chinese calendar, but there are many more creatures to celebrate during the International Year of Biodiversity. Biodiversity was toasted with launch parties in Paris, Berlin, New York City (under a big blue whale in the museum of natural history), London, Beijing, Madrid and Canada (and here) . Aside from a good party, what's the Year really doing for biodiversity? According to the multiple press releases from the events:

Analysts Say COP 15 Helped Bridge the Private-Public Divide

Widely dismissed by many as a failure, the December climate-change conference made it clear that the private sector needs to take a more active role in finding solutions to global warming if disaster is to be averted. This realization could lead to more cooperation between the private and public sectors, and more robust ecosystem markets around the world.

Read the full article

Biodiversity Offsets and Marine and Coastal Development

Biodiversity offsetting has helped promote conservation of endangered species on land, but can the same ideas be applied to the sea? Ameer Abdulla lays out a process for developing marine-based biodiversity offsets.

Read the full article

Uncharted Waters: Saving the Seas by Recognizing their Economic Value

We can help save a swamp by recognizing the value of the water it filters and the floods it regulates, and then enticing beneficiaries of these ecosystem services to pay for wetland preservation. But how do we apply this reasoning to the oceans, where water flows in all directions and no one owns anything? The Forest Trends Marine Ecosystem Services Program is working to answer that question.

Read the full article

Will Catch Shares Reel in Overfishing?

Fishery management worldwide is on the clock as commercial stocks dwindle and other threats to ocean health mount. Ecosystem Marketplace examines the role that catch shares can play in promoting efficient management of fish stocks.

Read the full article

Can the "New" Ecotourism Preserve Ecosystems by Paying for Beauty?

Low-impact tourism -- classic "ecotourism" -- has become a reliable niche within the global tourism trade, but it’s nothing compared to mass tourism that brings hundreds of millions of vacationers to oceanfront resorts around the world. This traffic, however, is taking its toll, and now savvy environmentalists are tapping the trade to fund the preservation of ocean ecosystems on which it depends.

Read the full article

Mitigation News
Congo Basin Rainforest Preservation through Poverty Reduction

Mongabay (1/15/2010)

Reducing poverty could be the key to forest preservation in Africa, according to The Forests of the Congo Basin - State of the Forest 2008. The report was created by over 100 scientists, policy and technical experts. Forest destruction in the Congo Basin region is caused more by subsistence agriculture and fuelwood collection than by logging, so sustainable forest management and PES like REDD may be able to save the forests. However, implementation of those structured schemes needs strong governance – hard to find in most of the Congo Basin countries.

Read more from Mongabay

Communicating Importance of Biodiversity is Tough

ENN, New York Times (1/31/2010, 2/5/2010)

Communicating biodiversity loss is not an easy task; especially when words like ‘biodiversity’ mean little to the public (64% of EU citizens don’t know what it means), sloppy scientific reasoning raises doubts and the media sloughs it all off as a hoax. Children these days spend 50% less time outdoors than 20 years ago, exemplifying this disconnect. But the science is there, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to generate public interest and understanding, putting it into an economic and social context like jobs, food and health. We are running out of time, after all.

Read more from ENN
Read more from the New York Times

Benn to call on world leaders to adopt biodiversity pricing (1/25/2010)

Pricing biodiversity is seen as another way of saving it, according to British environment secretary Hilary Benn. He hopes to see decisions made around biodiversity like those gleaned from the infamous Stern Report regarding the economic impact of climate change. An example is ship owners traveling through the Panama Canal paying to reforest land on either side to keep insurance premiums from rising due to water shortages. The sixth great extinction is upon us, and England (or at least Secretary Benn) knows it.

Read more from the Guardian

Australia Searches Nooks, Crannies for New Undiscovered Species

Popular Science 2/16/2010

Australia is spending AU$9 million in a ‘Bush Blitz’ initiative to fund a series of 18 expeditions to the outback to search for undiscovered species. The hope is to find species that may yield useful drugs for treating cancer, HIV, and the like… but "Another hope is that the new species will be unprecedentedly cute."

Read more from Popular Science

EPA bolsters emissions regulating power yet clean energy deployment questionable (1/6/2010)

Greenhouse gases, including the infamous CO2, are officially a threat to public health and welfare, according to the EPA. The major implication is that the EPA will be able to regulate GHGs, imposing standards for factories, utilities, on-road vehicles and other emitters. The likelihood that a cap-and-trade scheme will pass Congress this year is now slim-to-none, so the ruling will allow at least some reduction in GHG emissions. In addition, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced a bill to help advance large-scale green energy development, establishing a pilot mitigation bank program for quicker turn-around and avoidance of land-use conflicts..

Read the Examiner article

EU Mulling Biodiversity Strategy Options

New York Times Green Inc. Blog, Eurosite, Environment Analyst (1/19/2010, 1/21/2010, 1/27/2010)

The EU is preparing to find common ground before the CBD's summit this year in Nagoya, Japan in an attempt to stave off biodiversity loss. With none of the almost 200 signatory countries meeting their 2010 biodiversity goals, the commission hopes the summit in Japan will lead to more solid outcomes than Copenhagen. An EU biodiversity strategy is set to be created by the end of the year, with four goal options (see the full report here ) ranging from significantly dropping the rate of biodiversity in the EU by 2020 to completely halting biodiversity and ecosystem service loss and restoring systems as well as helping reduce global biodiversity loss.

Read the NYT Green Inc. Blog
Read more from Eurosite
Read the Environment Analyst article

Fighting over the Tap: Fish/Fishers vs. Farmers in California

Los Angeles Times, New York Times (2/11/2010, 2/12/2010, 2/22/2010)

In California, farmers are seeing the results of protecting the Chinook salmon and delta smelt – reduced access to water for crops. The volume of water pumped from the wet north to the arid south have been cut in half due to endangered species protections, according to the state’s deputy director of the Department of Water Resources. In recent (drought) years, the allocation to farmers has dropped to as low as 10% of their normal allocations. A US District court judge ruled that at least one pump in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta would be shut off to keep the fish population from decimation.

Lawsuit, schmasuit… Senator Dianne Feinstein is stepping into the 'fish/fishers vs. farmers' bout by attaching a rider to the US jobs bill that would guarantee farmers around 40% of their normal allocations. At the same time, commercial salmon fishing has been canceled the past two years due to dwindling numbers.

Contrary to Sen Feinstein’s rationale of protecting farming jobs, LA Times reports that "state data show farm jobs declined less than half a percent from 2008 to 2009." California Employment Development Department data show farm employment dipped only slightly -- 0.5% -- during the last two (drought) years. So why the political hubbub? It seems that UC Davis professor Richard Howitt predicted an economic blow from water cutbacks in early 2009 -- stats that folks hung onto even after the same professor later revised his prediction significantly downward. In addition, Howitt said there's been an unfair attribution of drought impacts to the smelt rather than to the overall drought.

Read more about the smelt decline
Read more about Feinstein's rider
Read more about farming jobs

Largest Conservation Easement in Virginia History Recorded

The Nature Conservancy (2/3/2010)

In the U.S., strides are being taken to preserve not only wetlands, but also entire watersheds. The largest conservation easement ever recorded in Virginia took place, with The Nature Conservancy purchasing 13,350 acres of forestland in the Dragon Run and Mattaponi watersheds and placing it under conservation easement. Altogether 20,600 acres of the watershed are now protected. The protection occurred through a partnership between TNC, Hancock Timber Group, and the Forestland Group. Hancock Timber is also mentioned in the article conserving over 400,000 acres in the US and Australia through their Sensitive Lands Program.

Read the TNC article

Obama’s 2011 Budget – Heads Up on Conservation Funding in the Works

TNC Blog Cool Green Morning (2/24/2010)

Many thanks to the Nature Conservancy for digging through the Obama Administration’s early budget for 2011. Here’s some potential conservation funding in the works:

  • $27 million for regional ocean partnerships and marine planning
  • $90 million for the USDA Forest Service to restore whole forested watersheds (within 2 programs: the Forest Landscape Restoration Act and Priority Watershed and Jobs Stabilization Initiative)
  • $100 million for REDD projects in developing countries

Read more from TNC

Reformed Common Agricultural Policy should incentivise biodiversity

Greenwise (1/27/2010)

Landowners and conservationists are not common allies, but environmental issues like the need for cleaner water have brought them together. These groups, along with the European Landowners' Organization and BirdLife International are arguing for sustainable management of the region's land through a reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. That includes rewarding farmers for protecting wildlife and ecosystem services, and making biodiversity loss a part of economic systems and markets.

Read more from Greenwise

Remote Monitoring of Biodiversity Impacts
RedOrbit (2/25/2010)

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has, in recent years, stepped up requirements to monitor impacts on biodiversity in projects it funds with its portfolio of about US$100 billion annually. EIB teamed up with European Space Agency to monitor three pilot projects from very far away. The first project is the Ambatovy nickel-cobalt mine in Madagascar (, a Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program pilot project...) and the space monitoring checks up on current forest conditions and disturbance. The second pilot monitors the progress of reforestation on the Pacific Island of Kolombangara, in the Solomon Islands. The third checks out the impact of highway construction in Greece.

Read more from RedOrbit

Scientists identify Ecuador's Yasuni National Park as one of the most biodiverse places on earth

Science Centric (1/20/2010)

With greater amphibian and tree diversity in one small area of Ecuador than in all of the US and Canada combined, it's no surprise that Ecuador's Yasuni National Park has one of the highest biodiversity levels on the planet. Just a single hectare may contain over 100,000 different insect species -- the highest diversity for any plant or animal group in the world. Yet the area is threatened by oil development projects. The Ecuadorian government is backing a plan to keep the developers out of the park, but limited funding may let the drills through.

Read the Science Centric article

Scuba-Diving a Windmill Farm? (1/19/2010)

Can artificial reefs really replace the real thing? According to a study by Dan Wilhemsson of Stockholm University, offshore windmills (or rather their foundations) can provide homes for an abundance of ocean diversity. By drilling extra holes in the foundation, marine life may thrive in the man-made structures, setting up camp for good. The best of both worlds?

Read more from Salon

US Endangered Species Round-Up: Sage Grouse, Coral, Panthers

Sage Grouse Habitat in Western US Mapped
LandLetter (subscription) (2/18/2010)

While the US Fish and Wildlife Service continues to deliberate (until at least March 5) on whether or not to list the sage grouse as an endangered species in the Western US, the US Bureau of Land Management has contracted with the Audubon Society to map the habitat of the rare sage grouse in the Western US. Development of alternative energy (natural gas fields, wind energy) may conflict with sage grouse preservation in the West.

Warming Water Spurs U.S. to Consider ESA Protection for 82 Coral Species
New York Times (2/11/2010)

The US Fish and Wildlife service is starting a formal status review to decide whether to list 82 coral species found near Florida, Hawaii and US territories. The coral has declined 30% in the last 30 years, due to threats like coastal development, agricultural pollution and the aquarium trade, among others. If listed as ‘endangered’, commercial fishermen, farmers and ocean industries would face federal regulation.

U.S. rejects expanded habitat for panthers; environmentalists pledge lawsuit
The Palm Beach Post News (2/11/2010)

The US FWS has rejected a petition to declare 3 million acres of South Florida critical habitat for the big cat, an endangered species. Environmentalists, led by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club, are looking to sue in order to keep the panther from extinction.

Read more about the sage grouse
Read about coral species
Read about the panthers

Wetlands to be recreated in England (2/3/2010)

England is realizing that wetlands play an important part in maintaining rare bird habitat and storing carbon dioxide, and is planning to restore 20 square miles to ancient fenlands in its initiative dubbed 'The Great Fen.' The project is led by the Environment Agency, in partnership with the National Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and other conservation groups. Only about 10 percent of the country's original wetlands exist today.

Read more from the Telegraph

WV wind farm bows to bats, as issue arises in MD

The Baltimore Sun B’More Green blog (2/1/2010)

Wind farms have often been cited as a great opportunity to help fight climate change, but the solution may not be so simple. Wind turbines can pose a threat to bird and bat populations, as one West Virginia developer knows. That developer has chosen to scale back its project in order to save the endangered Indiana bat, run the turbines only in the daytime when the bats are not hibernating, and seek "incidental take permits" from the US FWS. The same issue is being raised in Maryland, where a proposed wind farm threatens the same rare bat species. Opponents of the new farm want the developer to obtain "take" permits as well, to help protect the bat population.

Read more from the B'More Green blog

US Mitigation News

Existing WA Conservation Bank Proposes to Restore, Sell Wetland Credits
Washington Department of Ecology e-Newsletter (2/3/2010)

Wildlands Inc., in partnership with the Port of Everett, is proposing to restore and sell estuarine, intertidal mudflat, marsh, and riparian shrub-scrub/forested habitat credits in the Snohomish River estuary in Washington state. The 354-acre bank has already been separately approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a conservation bank to sell fisheries (salmonid) conservation credits.

Non-Profit California Rangeland Trust Helping Ranchers Conserve Land for Species
Contra Costa Times, California (2/13/2010)

In California, the non-profit California Rangeland Trust helps ranchers find cash for conservation. Developers needing to mitigate for impacts to endangered species (i.e. California tiger salamander, California red legged frog) work with ranchers and the Trust to establish conservation easements and the Trust then holds the conservation easements and conducts any ongoing management or monitoring. The Trust currently holds around 200,000 acres of conservation easements in California, with much of the land in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties and the Sierra foothills.

Wetland Credit Suppliers in SE Alaska
Anchorage Daily News (1/9/2010)

Anchorage is a city with many wetlands and dwindling developable area. This article notes that "Three organizations in South-Central Alaska are approved by the Corps to sell wetland credits for wetland preservation: Su-Knik Mitigation Bank South-Central Alaska; Great Land Trust ; and the Conservation Fund ."

See the WA Bank Prospectus
Read more about Rangeland Trust
Read about Alaska's wetlands

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