Ranchers and farmers earn their livelihoods managing land in ways that deliver goods and services the rest of us are willing to pay for. Far too many of them, however, have not yet learned about programs that generate significant new income from their operations, along with clean air, clean water, and biodiversity – healthy ecosystems, which benefit us all.
Research shows we can get 37 percent of the way to meeting the Paris Climate Agreement’s 2-degree target by improving the way we manage forests, farms, and fields, and carbon markets offer a way of funneling money into these activities. Here’s where markets stand now, and how we move them forward quickly.
A key UN body has just aggregated all known research on biodiversity loss, including knowledge gleaned from indigenous peoples, and the results are devastating: more than 20 percent of known plant and animal species have disappeared in the last century, while more are disappearing daily. The result is a grave threat to our entire food system. But therein lies our salvation.
Earth is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction, with literally dozens of species disappearing every day. Against this background, scientists are meeting in Paris to finalize the first global scientific stock-taking of biodiversity since 2005.
The Trump Administration wants to roll back federal protection of wetlands, but it also aims to increase support for water quality trading and bundling of environmental credits. For people who work in ecological restoration, however, the biggest regulatory challenge may be the high cost of compliance – brought on, ironically, by tight regulatory budgets.
Mitigation banking is built on the premise of “no net loss”, which means people who damage nature must fix what they break, usually with the aim of improving more degraded nature than they damage. Ecologist David Hill, however, has turned net gain into a bare minimum rather than an extra. Will it catch on across the UK?
We’ve lost more than half the world’s species in the last half century, thanks mostly to large-scale infrastructure projects and commercial agricultural expansion. Now a growing number of private and public entities are calling for agreement on making net biodiversity gain a mandatory component of development.
On one hand, bugs are high in protein and easy on the environment: a compelling solution for reducing global meat consumption and its contribution to climate change. On the other hand, try pitching that business idea to an investor. An entrepreneur who sees major potential for both the planet and their bottom line through producing […]
8 September 2018 | Next week, the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) will take place in the US state of California, where legislators have passed a bill mandating a carbon-free energy grid by 2045. If Governor Jerry Brown signs that bill, California will become the second US state after Hawaii to set that goal. More […]
This is the second in a two-part series. View part one here. 15 August 2018 | Business is booming in the arena of “nature-based” companies, which includes ventures ranging from ecological restoration companies to ecotourism to sustainable commodity production. One study estimates that ecological restoration in the United States is a $25 billion-a-year industry that directly employs […]
This story originally appeared on the Energy & Environmental Law Blog 9 August 2018 | On Monday, July 24, 2018, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a memorandum prohibiting BLM from requiring “compensatory mitigation” projects, except where specifically mandated by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). BLM will consider “voluntary proposals for compensatory mitigation,” […]
11 July 2018 | US Environmental Protection Agency boss Scott Pruitt may be gone, but his replacement, Andrew Wheeler is just as friendly to the coal sector as Pruitt was – and just as unfriendly to the $25 billion “restoration economy” that directly employs 126,000 people and supports 95,000 other jobs. That’s more jobs than logging, more […]
23 May 2018 | When Alessandro Leonardi began his graduate degree in forestry a decade ago at the University of Padova in Italy, forestry students rarely came near a business school classroom – courses in business administration, finance, or marketing weren’t part of the curriculum. In 2011, after completing his degree, Leonardi and some fellow […]
The $25 billion US ecological restoration industry is heading into 2018 with an ambitious agenda. In a few weeks, industry leaders will convene in Washington, DC for a policy conference that aims to position restoration right at the center of responses to the country’s mounting infrastructure and environmental resilience challenges.
The Southeastern United States produces 12 percent of the world’s wood, pulp, and paper – fueling an economic engine that’s pulverizing forests faster than it’s restoring them. Here’s how environmental NGOs like the Dogwood Alliance are teaming up with retail giants like Staples to try and prevent that engine from overheating.
Our natural world and climate are experiencing catastrophic change, largely because it’s more profitable to destroy ecosystems than to conserve them. We can begin to redress this imbalance by using conservation finance to support opportunities that protect ecosystems and generate some form of return. Here’s how that can work in the UK.
We talk a lot about the “green economy”, but what exactly does that mean? The Green Economy Coalition defines it as “an economy that provides prosperity for all within the ecological limits of the planet”, and it has provided this handy primer that breaks it into five broad themes.
As Florida recovers from Hurricane Irma and wildfires ravage the Pacific Northwest, the number of extreme weather events has topped 400 per year. That’s quadruple the rate of 1970, and scientists overwhelmingly attribute the rise to climate change. US Environmental Protection Administrator Scott Pruitt, however, says now is not the time to discuss such matters. Here’s why he’s wrong, and what we can do to set things right.
Payments for Ecosystem Services have always seemed like a good idea, and evidence is growing that they work. The latest comes from a Northwestern University study involving forest owners in 120 villages in western Uganda. Half were given cash rewards if they kept their forest intact, and half weren’t. Guess which group took better care of their forest?
The European Commission has set some of the most ambitions environmental targets on the planet, but states have struggled to achieve them. Fortunately, the Commission and member states have also created an impressive set of mechanisms for getting users and polluters to pay for restoration. Now they just have to teach people to use them.
A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but the benefits of mitigation banking aren’t as self-evident. Now, the sector’s leading trade association is changing its name to the “Ecological Restoration Business Association”, while a new organization will focus exclusively on the mitigation banking sector.
Ecosystem Marketplace is wrapping up data collection for its State of Biodiversity Markets report with a final flash poll offering anyone who’s interested a chance to weigh in on the future of biodiversity offsets. In other news, carbon market practitioners eye wetland restoration and rewilding initiatives in Europe get a loan.
As the ecological restoration industry convenes for its flagship meeting this week, two restoration players highlight the sector’s role as a big economic driver. They also stress the need for consistent standards and strong policy in order to craft truly efficient and effective projects that benefit biodiversity and people.
More than 220,000 Americans work in the $25 billion Restoration Economy, but few outside the sector understand how it works. Here’s how one Texas rancher tapped environmental finance to pay off debt from the expansion of his ranch and revive a degraded river that runs through it.
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.
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.
In 2016, proponents of mainstreaming biodiversity pushed for further integration during international talks and elsewhere while new research found serious declines in global biodiversity. But user-friendly maps, also published this year, revealed that markets dealing in wetlands and endangered animals are growing and have been growing for some time signaling their potential to help reverse the dismal trends on wildlife loss.
Environmentalists across the political spectrum have exhibited everything from anger to puzzlement over US President-Elect Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Scott Pruitt to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. Some in the restoration economy, like those in renewable energies, say the move could hobble a vibrant part of the US economy.
Assessing property for the endangered species it saves or wetlands it preserves could pay off for some landowners, says a California-based firm researching ecosystem markets. According to the firm’s latest case study, sale price tripled for a property in San Benito County, California once it considered eco-asset market values.
Peru has long been among the more innovative countries in dealing with the consequences of climate change, and last week policymakers there approved critical tools that can open the door for public and private investment in forests, water and biodiversity conservation.
In 2011, the UK enlisted Forest Trends to assess biodiversity offset markets in the US and Australia in order to determine how they might work in England. Earlier this year, the government published the report, which found that adopting similar programs in Britain would increase certainty, streamline the regulatory process and improve conservation outcomes from offsetting.
Mainstreaming biodiversity conservation into larger, political and high level processes appears set to dominate week two of biodiversity talks in Montreal, which will focus on action, the implementation of national strategies meant to stem the global loss of wildlife.
Nine years ago, New York City launched a revolutionary project to protect its drinking water by protecting the ecosystem services of its watershed. Ecosystem Marketplace checks up on the most famous ecosystem services project in the world.
Biodiversity conservation in the United States is getting revamped as federal agencies are accelerating their conservation commitments and drawing billions of private-sector dollars – largely because President Barack Obama is streamlining mitigation policies. The Fish and Wildlife Service, for instance, released a revised umbrella policy earlier this month.
While the UK government recently released the long-awaited conclusions from its consultation of biodiversity offsetting, analysts like the British Ecological Society are uncertain if the findings will lead to the mechanism’s use as pilot projects were inconclusive and the research questions offsetting’s ability to deliver anything more than marginal benefits.
Cash-strapped farmers and ranchers say they can’t compete with industry for mitigation credits, and the US Department of Agriculture seems to agree. As part of its new Wetland Mitigation Banking Program, the USDA is distributing $9 million to state governments, NGOs, private firms and other parties interested in developing banks and banking systems specifically for agricultural producers.
US President Barack Obama’s presidential memorandum on mitigation emphasized the private sector role in delivering a net benefit to the environment at a landscape level. But achieving landscape-scale benefits for species means more than increasing total habitat area, says ecological economist Douglas J. Bruggeman. Here, he discusses ways in which the memo may alter species markets.
Biodiversity and endangered habitat have always been difficult to finance, because their economic value isn’t as readily-apparent as that of water, air, and food. In 2015, proponents managed to embed biodiversity protection in major climate-change and development packages, but there’s still a long way to go.
There is significant movement in the ecosystem market space as a new presidential memorandum seeks to ramp up private investment in conservation and a recent analysis values the marketplace at $100 billion. To help capitalize on this movement a market analyst offers a brief list of recommendations for the rule makers – by William Coleman
There’s a cacao planting boom throughout the Amazon basin countries, which is usually good news for farmers and for governments, but farmers sometimes clear priceless native forest to establish new cacao plantations. Jacob Olander of Canopy Bridge examines the consequences, and takes stock of solutions.
Compensatory mitigation markets may be expanding in the US as high level policy guidance from the Department of Interior and the White House, released this month, directs land managing agencies to follow the mitigation hierarchy and scale up private investment in conservation.
Forty-five programs earned funding last month under the USDA’s $20 million Conservation Innovation Grants Program, and roughly half incorporated environmental markets. Here’s how one of them – the Climate Trust – hopes to prime the pump for carbon-based finance to farmers and foresters across the United States.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo today cut short his US visit because his country’s forests are burning after decades of degradation driven by our own insatiable appetite for palm oil, soy and beef. It’s a mess we can fix with just a 1% increase in the cost of our food products, says InfiniteEarth founder Todd Lemons, who argues that it’s time for a global environmental Super Fund.
For decades, economists and policy-makers have used Gross Domestic Product to measure productivity and wealth; but GDP is notoriously bad at measuring well-being. Most alternatives have proven too soft for mainstream economists, but natural capital accounting is taking hold around the world. What’s needed is more cooperation between ecological and economic sciences, argues Alex Spring.
Endangered species conservation is a complex realm with several stakeholders and a suite of approaches. Recently, a few of those parties came together for a spirited conversation about best practices for the lesser prairie chicken and greater sage-grouse, two high profile cases that have deep ramifications for species conservation.
Today, the US Fish and Wildlife Service determined the greater sage-grouse does not warrant a listing status under the Endangered Species Act. But the efforts to conserve the bird’s habitat aren’t slowing down and the federal agency listed mitigation as a key part of its plans to balance quality sagebrush habitat with the demands of a growing western economy.
The world of wetlands and wildlife is currently in a waiting period as a federal judge halted the US Clean Water Rule in 13 states and stakeholders in greater sage-grouse conservation wait for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to determine if the bird warrants federal protection. And the IUCN is still in the process of establishing new biodiversity offset policy.
In the past half-century, mankind has destroyed half our planet’s tropical rainforests to harvest timber and make way for cattle, palm, and soybean farms. But forests yield an incredible array of fruits and fibers not found anyplace else, and we don’t have to destroy the forest to harvest them. In fact, “gastronomic tourism” is emerging as a new way to save the forests – and it has a surprising pedigree.
Actors in the biodiversity space are warning against potential pitfalls of a draft offsetting policy the International Union for Conservation of Nature released this month. The IUCN is accepting comments on the document now which intends to provide guidance on implementing effective offsets. Meanwhile, the National Mitigation Banking Association released its Universal Principles of Compensatory Mitigation.