Biodiversity Offsets Make the Grade in UK’s Natural Environment White Paper
The UK’s Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs released their “Natural Environment White Paper” today, which will guide environmental policy in the country. Unsurprisingly the White Paper strongly aligns environmental protection and restoration with economic growth, especially considering it follows on the heels of the Natural Ecosystem Assessment, which found that the UK is consistently undervaluing its ecosystem services. The possibility of including a biodiversity offset scheme has been thrown around recently, and sure enough it was included as an upcoming program. Like we predicted, the approach to biodiversity offsets is completely voluntary.
– Read the story from Ecosystem Marketplace here
Voluntary Carbon Market Surges to Record Year on CSR, Forestry
The policy-driven carbon market contracted in 2010, but the voluntary market achieved its highest volume ever – thanks in part to renewed spending on corporate social responsibility and the release of new methodologies for forest carbon. Indeed, the number of participants based in the developing world more than doubled in response to demand for REDD credits.
– Read more at Ecosystem Marketp
Brazil’s Slash Forest Code
Brazil’s 75-year-old Forest Code has been stripped of many provisions that protected sensitive areas by an overwhelming vote in congress. The new bill exempts small-scale farmers from the Forest Code and opens environmentally sensitive to cultivation. It also grants amnesty to small-scale farmers who violated the law before July, 2008. The results could be disastrous for the country’s forests. A group of six scientists had a letter published in Science last year warning that 100,000 species might be put at risk of extinction if the proposal becomes law, not to mention the increase in emissions. The bill has yet to pass the senate or be signed by the president Dilma Roussef, who promised to take a hard stance in preserving the law.
– Read more at Ecosystem Marketp
– Read coverage from the BBC here
Wetlands Help Tame the Mighty Mississippi
Thousands of miles along the Mississippi were flooded when heavy rains caused the river to spill over the banks, causing billions of dollars worth of damage. Wetlands used to provide the crucial function of absorbing water that overflowed from rivers, in addition to the habitat and carbon sequestration they provided. The US Army Corp of Engineers agrees that the best way to manage a flood plain is wetlands, and while the current law of “no net loss” has often been effective in slowing the destruction of wetlands, a mitigation banking program that was based on the value of restored ecosystem services would be more effective in returning developed lands along the river to wetlands.
– Read more here
Every Recession Has a Silver Lining
The recession marked a downturn for mitigation bankers, as private development projects slowed to a trickle. The saving grace was continued government spending, but now budget cuts seem to indicate that that source of business is in danger of drying up as well. However, there may be a silver lining: as governments face budget restrictions, they may look to mitigation banking as a more efficient, cheaper way to achieve conservation objectives.
– Read about the ups and downs here
Welcome to the BBOP Consultation Process
BBOP has opened a public consultation process on the biodiversity offsets Principles, Criteria and Indicators framework the group has developed. This is the foundation for the draft standard on biodiversity offsets that is expected to launch in mid 2012. A BBOP Advisory Group member, Derek Melton of Golder Associates is presenting it this week at the International Association of Impact Assessors conference in Puebla, Mexico.
– See the consultation materials here
White Paper Shows the Way for Biodiversity Offsets in the UK
The UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has released its much anticipated Natural Environment White Paper, the first of its kind in 20 years. Following on the heels of the National Ecosystem Assessment, concluding that the country was undervaluing its ecosystem services by billions of pounds. The inclusion of a biodiversity offset program was no surprise , nor was the proposal of a purely voluntary offset program, set to begin as a trial in several pilot areas in spring 2012 for two years.
– Read more here
– And here
EU Wins the Future with New Biodiversity Strategy
The European Union’s Environment Commissioner unveiled a plan to reduce biodiversity loss in the EU as part of the larger global Convention on Biological Diversity goal “At least halve and, where feasible, bring close to zero the rate of loss of natural habitats, including forests.” The strategy is set to run through 2020 and focuses on just six targets and their related measures. Called “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020,” the idea of biodiversity as a provider of ecosystem services is at the core of the strategy, which includes a call to “promote the development and use of innovative financing mechanisms, including market based Instruments.” The plan still needs to be presented to the European Parliament and EU governments for discussion and endorsement. The strategy also specifically mentions ‘no net loss ‘ : “The Commission will carry out further work with a view to proposing by 2015 an initiative to ensure there is no net loss of ecosystems and their services (e.g. through compensation or offsetting schemes).”
– Read more here
– And here
– And read the strategy here
Oprah has left the building, and now… Pavan bids farewell to TEEB
Almost a year has passed since the release of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), and the leader of the report, Pavan Sukhdev, already sees the ideas laid out in the report gaining traction. Puma, for example, is putting environmental costs on the books/a> and the World Bank has launched the Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystems Services (WAVES) – basically, an initiative to ‘green’ national GDP measures with six developing countries signed up to pilot the initiative . Sukdev not only wants to wake up the private sector about the benefits of accounting for nature (and the perils of not doing so), but wants a reforming of our economic models towards a green economy. But he won’t be doing it under the aegis of TEEB anymore, but from a private sector consulting firm called GIST advisory, based in India, and also serving as a McKluskey Fellow for Yale University in the US. Godspeed, Mr. Sukdev.
– Read coverage fro mthe BBC here
Not quite a green GDP, but getting there…
Unrelated to the World Bank’s WAVES initiative mentioned above, the European Parliament has supported legislation that would set up ‘green balance sheets.’ The proposed regulation on environmental economic accounts would allow member states to compare data on air emissions, environmental taxes and material flows. The legislation did encounter some resistance from member states, particularly those that currently have no way to capture environmental statistics at a national level, but will likely come into effect next month, making 2011 the reference year for statistics. The 27 member states will only have to track statistics for air emissions, environmental taxes and material flows, but the list will likely expand to cover waste, forests, energy and ecosystem services.
– Read about the initative here
Business and Biodiversity Round-Up
Athletic apparel manufacturer Puma has become the first company to release an environmental profit and loss account. Their accounting tallied the direct ecological impact of its operations at £6.2m, and an additional £74 million environmental cost along the length of their entire supply chain. While the current accounting method only takes into account greenhouse gas emissions and water usage, Puma hopes to expand the scope to measure costs to biodiversity and society.
While Puma has yet to tackle the trickier issue of biodiversity, a group of European businesses appear to be leading the effort to recognize the importance of biodiversity in their operations. Ten companies have performed a Biodiversity Check as part of the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign. The companies are from a broad range of sectors, each having a unique impact on biodiversity, whether direct or indirect. The Check allowed each of the companies to develop strategies to avoid and mitigate environmental impacts. The European Business and Biodiversity Campaign hopes to mainstream the measurement and reporting of biodiversity impacts in the private sector through this initiative.
Other companies are not quite so far along. A group of 23 cement producers (the Cement Sustainability Initiative, a WBCSD initiative) are in the scoping phase of determining how to reduce the industry’s negative impact on water use, biodiversity and land management. And at a recent conference on global supply chains hosted by Ceres, a nonprofit that aligns the private sector with sustainability, companies like Disney and Hewlett Packard noted that keeping track of the sustainability of global supply chains is a difficult task. But as issues of sustainability and human rights become more prominent in the discussion those companies and others are taking steps toward greening their supply chain.
…and they should. Or else Greenpeace will be targeting them in their next negative ad campaign. Newly in Greenpeace’s crosshairs: Barbie. The toy manufacturer Mattel is the subject of a recent campaign by Greenpeace criticizing Mattel’s sourcing of paper for packaging. The campaign centers around Barbie/Ken break-up because of Barbie’s rainforest destruction habits . The activist non-profit is increasing the savvy of consumers in understanding links in the supply chain, saying “The trail leads directly from Mattel to Asia Pulp and Paper and its suppliers in a chain of destruction that spans the globe.”
While palm oil has been the target of a past Greenpeace campaign , the industry has been on the offensive to remedy its image as an environmental scourge. Their engagement with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil appears to be paying off, as nine percent of global palm oil supply is now certified by the group – a definite PR plus for the beleaguered industry. Meanwhile, a coalition of palm oil industry groups from Malaysia and Indonesia, the world’s two leading producers, are engaged in an effort to promote palm oil within the European Union by establishing the European Palm Oil Council. Ministers from both countries were also visiting Washington to lobby the US government over trade barriers for palm oil imports.
The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has published its “REDD-plus and Biodiversity” study , providing scientific and technical information on ways to ensure that the design and implementation of policies for REDD+ support the objectives of the CBD. REDD+, a forest conservation and carbon mitigation program, could have potential biodiversity co-benefits if designed with those benefits in mind, and as REDD+ comes center stage in international conservation, the inclusion of biodiversity safeguards in a REDD+ program are increasingly important.
– Puma story
– Biodiversity check story
– Sustainable palm oil story
Winning the Parks and Mines of South Africans
South Africa is trying to work out a different balancing act – trying to satisfy the mining and tourist industries, which often see each other as enemies. In the past decade several mining operations have had permits rejected or been shut down during operation because of concerns over impact to tourism revenues. The South African National Bio-diversity Institute (SANBI) may be able to resolve some of the conflict. They have generated maps that show priority wetlands, threatened ecosystems and nature-reserve-based tourism opportunity areas, allowing mining firms to make better decisions about where to pursue mining operations and regulators to make better informed decisions.
– Read more here
Japan Says “Hai” to Nagoya Protocol
Japan, along with seven other nations, signed the Nagoya Protocol, one of the outcomes from last year’s CBD COP10. Responding to criticisms that genetic resources have been utilized without proper payment or sharing of resulting intellectual property, the Protocol is intended to spell out benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources should be shared in a fair way.
– Read more here
Scientists Forget to Carry the One When Estimating Species Extinction
There’s good news and bad news. First, the good news: scientists reported in Nature that current estimates of extinction rates may be off by as much as 160%. Although it’s undoubtedly good news that species are not going extinct as fast as had previously been thought, the authors don’t let us forget the bad news – habitat loss is occurring at unprecedented rates. The current method to calculate species loss starts with the current amount of species in a given area and then estimates how the number of species grows as the area expands or shrinks when habitat contracts. The authors say this method is fundamentally flawed and is proven by their mathematical model. Although a new method isn’t put forward, a call for a more precise model is need, because as everybody knows, you can’t save something you don’t know exists.
– Read about calculating species extinction here
$2.5 Billion to Help Conserve Biodiversity, Alleviate Poverty in India
The World Bank has approved $23.5 million for a project that will conserve forested areas and improve rural livelihoods in forest dependent communities in India. Called the Biodiversity Conservation and Rural Livelihood Improvement Project, two areas will be the site of pilot programs to refine biodiversity conservation methods under the landscape conservation approach. And with millions dependent on forests for their livelihood, it’s crucial to align positive biodiversity outcomes with improved livelihoods.
– Read more here
World Bank Wants Malawi and Zambia to Work Together on Conservation
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