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From the Editors 

These are divided days in Washington DC. But there is one issue that leaders across the spectrum seem to agree on: the immediate and compelling need to rebuild America's worn and damaged infrastructure. But which infrastructure investments will deliver the most bang for our buck

Coastal restoration projects that rebuild and restore wetlands, coastal forests, dunes and barrier reefs are a sure way to shore up national security by building climate resilience on the nation's densely populated coasts. But storm protection is far from the only benefit of investing in natural infrastructure along coastlines, says Steve Cochran of the Environmental Defense Fund. Not only are they cost-effective and "shovel ready" projects, they create thousands of new employment opportunities, many of them in rural counties.

The administration of US President Donald Trump didn't embrace natural infrastructure investments this news cycle. It did, however, issue an Executive Order requiring regulating agencies to review the Waters of the US Rule, which legal experts suppose will result in a rollback of the Clean Water Act's jurisdiction.

This month we also take a look at a roadmap for a national offsets program for Mozambique and an investigation into growing Jordan's wind energy sector in a way that aligns with international best practice on biodiversity mitigation, both backed by the World Bank. In the United States, Idaho has a greater sage-grouse credit program in the works. All good stuff. In the bad news corner this month: New research suggests biodiversity offsets aren't working the way they're supposed to Down Under.

- The Ecosystem Marketplace team

 
   

Latest News

The Infrastructure Opportunity Nobody Is Talking About – Yet

While there isn’t much disagreement that America’s infrastructure needs fixing, determining which areas to prioritize remains a challenge. Which investments will deliver the most bang for our buck? Steve Cochran of the Environmental Defense Fund says investing in coastal restoration presents huge cost-effective opportunities to create new jobs and safeguard national security.

Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Lima Kicks Off Development Of 30-Year Green Infrastructure Plan

In 2015, the Peruvian capital of Lima made a significant financial commitment to restore the region’s natural infrastructure to help manage its many water woes. Committing is one thing; however, deploying the finance and implementing nature based projects is quite another. To help them figure out how this should work, Lima’s water utility continues to enlist help and is creating a first-of-its-kind master plan for green infrastructure.

Ecosystem Marketplace has the story.

Of Milk and Money, Part Four: How Impact Investing Links Big Business And Small Farming

From 2010 through 2015, environmental NGO VI Agroforestry leveraged carbon finance to help 30,000 Kenyan farmers develop more sustainable practices. With millions of others still in poverty, however, the organization needed to scale up further, yet it was leery of taking on market risk to do so. Could a for-profit impact investment fund be the solution?

Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace.

To Protect Our Planet’s Resources, Look No Further Than Indigenous Peoples

Tata Yawanawa was a spiritual leader of Brazil’s Yawanawa indigenous people championing conservation and sustainability while maintaining cultural and spiritual traditions. He passed away in December at the age of 103. Here, Forest Trends’ President Michael Jenkins reflects on his life and legacy.

Keep reading.

HERE’S THE DEAL

Nature Still Waiting for the Big Investment Boom

New research from Ecosystem Marketplace revealing private investment in conservation had grown to $8.2 billion added momentum to this year's Conservation Finance conference, which Credit Suisse hosted in New York. Bankers say their clients are indeed looking for these opportunities, and the conference is a good place to track activity.

Keep reading.

Adding Some Green to the Prairie Chicken Pot

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies with nearly a $200,000 grant to restore lesser prairie chicken habitat. The grant will fund up to 1,000 acres of private land that connects to other areas of habitat, which is critical for the bird.

The Hays Post has more

POLICY WATCH

Executive Order Puts WOTUS in Dangerous Waters

On February 28, US President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order directing the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to review the "Waters of the US Rule," seeking a revised definition. In revising or rolling back this rule, legal experts say, the new administration must replace it with policy that offers clarity and certainty to stakeholders.

 CNN has coverage or get detailed analysis via Lexology.

Crafting a National Offsets Framework for Mozambique

The World Bank's Program on Forests (PROFOR) recently published a report describing a road map for a national biodiversity offsets system in Mozambique. Mozambique is already home to both significant threats to biodiversity from mining and infrastructure, and rich experience in the biodiversity mitigation hierarchy thanks to voluntary commitments and international finance regulations. The report suggests that offsetting regulation may actually increase the pace and clarity of permitting for regulated development. 

Learn more and download the report (in English or Portuguese).

US Feds Seek LT Partners for Conservation Finance, Maybe Some Walks on the Beach 

The US Department of Agriculture is once again accepting project proposals for its Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The USDA has $252M to funnel out, and department heads are specifically encouraging projects that leverage conservation finance and environmental markets.

Read more at the Batesville Hearald-Tribune

MARKET MUSINGS

In Jordan, IFC and Partners Envision Biodiversity-Friendly Wind Investments 

A new study led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) explores options for wind energy projects in Jordan to protect biodiversity and attract sustainable investments. The study - the first of its kind in Eastern Europe, Middle East, and North Africa - proposes a range of measures to avoid and minimize impacts on birds and bats, as well as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) fund that could support offsets as a last resort. 

Read a press release or download the report (pdf).

Banking on Credits for Sage-Grouse Conservation

As part of its greater sage-grouse management plan, the state of Idaho is developing a mitigation program that generates credits to compensate for development in sage grouse habitat. The state will administer the program itself and offer credits directly to interested buyers rather than trade them on the open market.

Keep reading at the Capital Press.

Saving Birds and Water Quality with One Stone

An Illinois county is using funds from its wetland mitigation banking program to restore wetland and prairie habitat in the area. The restoration will not only benefit native wildlife but boost stormwater management as the new and improved wetlands will store and clean pollutants from water.

The Chicago Tribune has coverage.

NEW RESEARCH

Biodiversity Offsets That Don’t Offset in Australia

New research out of Australia says biodiversity offsets are often of such poor quality in New South Wales that they're putting the very species they're meant to protect a step closer to extinction. Examining eight case studies in the region, Nature Conservation Council determined that 75% of cases resulted in poor outcomes for wildlife while 25% resulted in an adequate outcome.

Read more at the Newcastle Herald.

Researchers Gaze Long into Avoid

A new paper in Oryx takes a look at the most important, yet frequently neglected, first step of the mitigation hierarchy: avoidance. The authors consider why avoidance measures are so often inadequate, and suggest some steps toward righting the ship.

Read it here.

Vacant Lots May Not be as Empty as They Appear

A recent study may help urban dwellers appreciate the wild untended vegetation that springs up in vacant lots. Researchers determined that forested vacant lots in Cleveland, Ohio sequestered more carbon and prevented more stormwater runoff than tree-lined streets and backyards.  

Get the details at Anthropocene.

   
   

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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