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From the Editors

You probably remember the 2015 study that revealed the ecological restoration economy is a $25 billion industry that directly employs 126,000 people and supports 95,000 other jobs in the US. That's more jobs than logging, coal mining and iron and steel.

In this age of political uncertainty, we thought it worth reviewing the many benefits of the restoration industry. While it's driven by regulations that mandate protection for speices and habitats, it's also market-based, flexible and can help stimulate rural economies.  

The restoration industry is also growing: Some restoration firms like Resource Environmental Solutions are receiving "significant investments" from private capital.

Further evidence of growth: a mitigation bank in South Carolina may become the state's largest saltwater restoration project, Michigan has plans to expand its Mitigation Banking Program and Westervelt Ecological Services is contemplating a new agricultural wetland bank in Nebraska. And now US landowners have new opportunities to generate mitigation credits for at-risk species.

Meanwhile, the Brexit is looking like it could be bad news for biodiversity: the Habitats Directive may not survive the UK's government departure from the European Union (EU), and British conservationists wonder how the nation's biodiversity will fare without EU subsidies. 

- The Ecosystem Marketplace team

 
   

Latest News 

Trump Can Save 220,000 Rural Jobs And Conserve Nature. Will He?

President Donald Trump and many Congressional Republicans say they’ll create jobs by rolling back environmental regulation, but their current trajectory could have the opposite effect: killing more than 220,000 jobs while eradicating endangered species, poisoning water, and accelerating climate change. There is, however, a proven way to reduce regulations without hurting jobs or the environment.

Keep reading at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Gorsuch Brings Distrust Of Government Agencies To The Supreme Court

Dozens of climate and conservation initiatives are now working their way through the US court system, and some are destined to land in the Supreme Court. That means Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s high-court nominee, could play a major role in determining US policy. His environmental record is thin, but he’s expressed a clear distrust of government agencies.

Keep reading at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Investors Put Over $8B Into Conservation: Can It Continue In The Trump Era?

Private investment in conservation grew 62% in the last two years but it’s still a drop in the bucket considering the size of capital markets. Mandates enforcing protections for nature can help these investments grow, but the United States’ current political administration appears more interested in unraveling environmental regulation than enforcing it.

Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Endangered Species: How Environmental Rollback Could Hit Forest Owners Hard

President Donald Trump plans to revive the rural economy by rolling back environmental regulations, but his policies could cost farmers and forest owners dearly. Here’s a look at some of the farmer-friendly environmental initiatives that could end up on the endangered list – if they aren’t there already.

Keep reading.

Why Did Conservation Investors Leave $3 Billion On the Table Last Year?

Conservation Investments aim to generate both a financial return and a verifiable environmental benefit, and impact investors funneled more than $8.2 billion into them between 2004 and 2015. They also, however, left $3.1 billion on the table. Could small farmers generate the returns they’re looking for?

Ecosystem Marketplace has the story.

HERE'S THE DEAL

Infrastructure Projects Will Speed Up When Mitigation Does

US President Donald Trump has pledged to expedite the process that gets shovels in the ground for infrastructure projects. However, two leaders in the restoration industry say in order to speed that up, the permitting process for wetland mitigation also needs to be improved.

John Preyer and George Howard of Restoration Systems explain in a Washington Times piece.

How Will UK’s Nature Fare in a Post-Brexit World?

Conservationists are hoping the British government’s soon-to-be-released 25-year plan on the environment will bring clarity in a post-Brexit world. Environmental advocacy group ClientEarth says the plan could include biodiversity offsets, though such a mechanism would require larger projects and an accounting system that prevents double-counting and temporary conservation.

Read more at the Independent.

POLICY WATCH

FWS Starts New Credit Line for At-Risk Species

In January, the US Fish and Wildlife Service issued a new tool that allows landowners to generate mitigation credits for activities that conserve and protect at-risk species. If the species is later listed, they can use these credits to meet mitigation requirements or sell them to a third party. The Service has had this policy in the works for a few years.

Read the FWS press release for more.

Western States seek Transition of Power over Sage Grouse

Western state legislators are throwing their weight behind a bill that gives more power to the states over greater sage-grouse conservation. The Greater Sage-Grouse Protection and Recovery Act would allow states to develop their own conservation plans or defer to federal agencies for protection measures.

The Weekly Mailer has details.

Environmental Law Manages to Protect Wetlands in Zimbabwe

Marshes near Zimbabwe's capital city Harare provide critical ecosystem services but protecting them from development is difficult. Birdlife Zimbabwe along with civil society partners achieved a milestone in 2016, however, when they prevented housing developers from building on wetlands, backed by often-ignored environmental policy.

Birdlife International has the details.

Mitigation Banking in Michigan gets a Boost

Michigan’s Wetland Mitigation Banking Program may be getting an influx of funds. This month, Governor Rick Snyder pledged an increase of $3.8 million into the program.

Keep reading.

MARKET MUSINGS

Locals Get Salty Over Mitigation Bank in Maine

The Maine Department of Transportation scrapped plans to develop a saltwater marsh mitigation bank after pushback from local communities. At one time, the department planned to use eminent domain to purchase conservation easements but abandoned the idea amid local concerns.

The Bangor Daily News has more.

Contemplating Conservation Banking Project in Nebraska

Westervelt Ecological Services are considering developing an agricultural wetland mitigation bank in Nebraska, where the Central Platte Natural Resources District would hold the conservation easement. The district is undecided, however, and conservation group Audubon has also expressed interest in the site.

Kearney Hub has the details.   

Mitigation Bank May Claim the Title of South Carolina’s Largest Saltwater Restoration Project

South Carolina Ports Authority has plans to turn 115 acres of its property into a saltwater wetlands mitigation bank. At least one conservation group is showing support for the idea, which, if successful, will be the state's largest saltwater restoration project.  

Read more at the Post and Courier.

NEW RESEARCH

Trees Grow High With a Little Help from their Friends

A new study from scientists at Swiss university ETH Zurich suggests that tropical forests may not bounce back from degradation from logging as quickly as we thought. The findings, which focus on realized seed disperal of White Cedar trees, indicate that if we want to restore high-value forests, humans may need to provide extra help to recover degraded habitat, such as through artifical seeding or planting seedlings.

Mongabay has a summary.

Carbon Strengths and Weaknesses of Coastal Ecosystems

New research explores the carbon storing powers of wetlands determining they hold between 20 - 30% of global soil carbon. Meanwhile, University of Maryland scientists determined that while mangrove forests and seagrass meadows serve as effective blue carbon storage reservoirs, other marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and kelp forests do not store carbon for long periods of time.

Phys.org has details.

   
   

ABOUT FOREST TRENDS' ECOSYSTEM MARKETPLACE

Ecosystem Marketplace is an initiative of Forest Trends, a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)3. This newsletter and other dimensions of our market tracking programs are funded by a series of international development agencies, philanthropic foundations, and private sector organizations. For more information on donating to Ecosystem Marketplace, please contact info@ecosystemmarketplace.com.

 
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