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From the Editors

Greetings!

Earlier this month, Ecosystem Marketplace published our latest report, the State of Private Investment in Conservation 2016. The good news: Private capital committed for conservation grew by 62% in the last two years, and totaled $8.2 billion in the last decade. But there's still a shortage of investments meeting criteria for both environmental and financial returns. Investors left nearly $3.1B on the table last year.

Report authors focused on three conservation-oriented investments: food and fiber production, habitat conservation and clean water. Most investments focused on the sustainable food and fiber sector. Water quality and quantity protection projects brought up the rear, accounting for just 5% of investments tracked.

Authors do note, however, that interest in clean water investments may be picking up. In 2016, Washington D.C. issued a $25 million tax-exempt Environmental Impact Bond to manage the risks of using green infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff. And in California, Blue Forest Conservation intends to deploy private capital to manage drought and wildfire through its Forest Resilience Bond.

These findings are just skimming the surface, however. To get the details, download the report free of charge and read our press release.

Happy reading,

- The Ecosystem Marketplace team

A special thanks to our State of Private Investment in Conservation 2016 report supporters:

 
   

Latest News

Conservationists Embrace New Environmental Tool: Water Leasing

Farms have long swapped water rights among themselves or with urban areas, but new research out last month reveals conservationists are now leveraging these tools for environmental purposes – like leasing irrigation rights and using the water to restore habitat for endangered species and secure clean water for communities.

Ecosystem Marketplace has the story.

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. Impact investors funneled more than $8.2 billion into conservation between 2004 and 2015. They also, however, left $3.1 billion on the table. Could small farmers generate the returns they’re looking for?

Keep reading.

Private Investment In Conservation Reaches $8.2 Billion

Conservation investing is on the rise and experienced dramatic growth after 2013 as total committed private capital climbed from $5 billion to just over $8 billion, according to Ecosystem Marketplace’s latest report, the State of Private Investment in Conservation 2016. It’s recognition of forests, wetlands and reefs as smart investments, authors say, and signals growing interest among even mainstream investors.

Ecosystem Marketplace has the details.

2016: The World Learns The Value Of Water

As drought, flooding and pollution made headlines year-round in 2016, some experts and organization pushed for a return to the basics: solutions that mimicked nature or protected water at its source. But these old-school solutions are linked to innovative new finance models helping to manage the mounting costs of water resources management.

Get the details.

HERE'S THE DEAL

Flooding Fields to Save Water in California?

A new water management concept is taking root in California: flood farm fields during the rainy winter season, allowing water to seep into the ground and recharge aquifers. Still, project developers anticipate pushback from parts of the agricultural community.

National Public Radio has the story.

Mining for Better Water Management

The International Council on Mining and Metals made new water stewardship commitments this month as it aims to do its part in combatting the world water crisis. Member companies plan to focus on transparent water governance and collaboration when managing water resources.

Read Mining Weekly for details.

New Development Tests Chesapeake Bay Nutrient Credit Exchange

A Chinese papermaking company setting up shop in Virginia is testing the region's ability to maintain pollution caps in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The region is home to a thriving nutrient credit exchange program. But existing industrial facilities are holding on to the credits they've generated rather than selling them, raising concerns about the trading program's ability to accomodate new growth among permitted facilities.

Bay Journal has details.

D.C. Paves the Way for Green Stormwater Management

Washington D.C.'s Environmental Impact Bond, which the city's water utility issued in September, has the potential to change current perception that green infrastructure is a risky and untested approach to manage stormwater runoff. Earlier this month, the Conservation Finance Network broke down the EIB and what it can accomplish.

Read the whole story.

POLICY WATCH

New York Leverages Nature to Solve Natural Problems

New proposed guidance from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation emphasizes nature-based solutions to reduce erosion and flooding. The guidance follows concepts laid out in the Community Risk and Resiliency Act, legislation meant to accelerate adaptation to climate change signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.  

Get the details.

Living Shoreline Permits are Official in US

The US Army Corps of Engineers broke new ground earlier this year when they recommended a new nationwide permit for "living shorelines," a nature-based solution that helps reduce erosion. The agency recently finalized the living shoreline permit, along with other revisions and renewals, and they’re scheduled to go into effect March 19, 2017.

Read a press release from the Corps.

Lawmakers Seek New Funding Streams to Secure Clean Water in New York

New York lawmakers recently unveiled the Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 and plan to invest $2 billion in water projects statewide. Another piece of legislation making its way through the legislature would open up new funds for green infrastructure projects.

The East Hampton Star has more.

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

Farmers Work Better Together

Conservation project developers working in California's Lower Salinas Valley says farmers should pool their resources to strengthen the region's water quality and meet both federal and state water requirements. The environmental teamwork project, which is also expected to benefit birds and other species, received a Conservation Innovation Grant for over $1 million.

Keep reading at Conservation Finance Network.

NEW RESEARCH

Giving Nature the Credit it Deserves

New research from The Nature Conservancy finds that four out of five of the 4,000 largest cities could improve water quality with investments in nature that protect water at its source. These nature-based solutions include protecting existing forests, planting trees and shrubs on pastureland, which could also lead to additional revenue streams for landowners.

Keep reading at National Geographic.

Three Steps to Success

A global meta-study of 55 Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) programs uncovered some clear program characteristics associated with success: geographic targeting and differentiated payments. “Targeting means you pre-screen who can take part in the scheme. Once you have decided that, you can offer to pay more for some features, making it more attractive for those special landowners or resource stewards to join,” explains co-author Sven Wunder, of the Center for International Forestry Research. The third ingredient? Penalties for non-compliance. “Many of the schemes we looked at in our study have never punished anybody,” Wunder says.

Monga Bay summarizes findings here.

Green Infrastructure for the Great Lakes 

Encourage Capital, Corvias and Environmental Consulting and Technology Inc. explored public-private partnerships to implement green stormwater infrastructure in the Great Lakes region in a new report. While policy at the state level impacts investor involvement, report authors say water utilities are at an advantage as they can generate a steady stream of revenue, which will help attract investors. 

Get the details.

Blueprint for Healthy Watersheds and Clean Water

The Nature Conservancy recently launched its Water Quality Blueprint tool which identifies prime areas for investments in clean water for Vermont's Lake Champlain. Natural infrastructure which is a win on multiple levels, TNC says: it stores carbon, cleans water, and protects wildlife.

VTDigger has more.

   
   

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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