IPBES Launch Tops Off Busy Month in Biodiversity

More than 90 Governments launched the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) this past weekend, creating a structure through which biodiversity science can better inform policymaking around the world. The event caps off a busy month in biodiversity, which we’ve encapsulated in our most recent Mitigation Mail newsletter.

26 April 2012 | Spring is here in the northern hemisphere, and with it comes lots of newly-budding governmental action on biodiversity and ecosystem services – of both the beneficial and the noxious varieties.

Good news first: The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has officially launched! Years in the making, the platform aims to introduce a structured, methodological approach to biodiversity science and policy the way the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) did for climate science.

“Good policy is based on good science,” said Bob Watson, who is the Chair and Chief Scientific Advistor to the UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in an interview posted on the IPBES web site.   “IPBES will … evaluate what we know about biodiversity — i.e. ecosystems.   Why are they important to human survival? what’s being degraded, what’s getting better, and what are the options to manage our ecosystems in a way that’s good for poverty alleviation, as well as the development of all humans?”

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) also has a new Secretary, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias. Ecosystem Marketplace has an exclusive interview with Dr. Dias, who talks Aichi targets, resource mobilization, and how ‘no net loss’ and market mechanisms can fit into the CBD’s long-term strategy.

We also cover some other big policy stories this month, including biodiversity offset pilots and new assessment tools for developers in the U.K., a Supreme Court ruling on wetland compliance procedures in the US, a look at how Farm Bill budget cuts could accelerate wetland loss, and a new BSR report that benchmarks ecosystem services policy globally.

Read on for the latest in biodiversity and wetland compensation news.

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UN Biodiversity Boss Dias Sees More Engagement With Cities, Private Sector

When Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias was appointed Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in January, he took responsibility for implementing the CBD’s new ten-year strategic plan. Formerly Brazil’s National Secretary for Biodiversity and Forests, he succeeded Ahmed Djoghlaf as CBD Executive Secretary in January and joined Ecosystem Marketplace for a wide-ranging interview last week. He discusses the past, present, and future of biodiversity preservation – and the role that a “no-net-loss” regime can play in helping to rectify the apparent contradiction between economic growth and environmental preservation.

Read the interview.


Indigenous Tribe Earns Validation for Landmark Forest Carbon Project

A small tribe of indigenous people unknown to the outside world a half-century ago and once on the brink of extinction has harnessed an innovative forest carbon project to shield their territory from illegal logging and preserve their chosen way of life. As a result, the 1300-strong Paiter-Surui earlier this month became the first indigenous tribe in the Amazon and globally to earn carbon credits under internationally recognized standards for keeping carbon locked in trees – setting the stage for scores of similar projects that can unleash needed funding for indigenous people who preserve endangered tropical rainforest across the Amazon.

Get the full story at Ecosystem Marketplace.


Supreme Court Rules Against EPA in Wetlands Case

Last month, the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision found the case Sackett v. EPA in favor of Idaho couple Chantell and Michael Sackett, asserting that when it comes to wetlands, “arbitrary and capricious” compliance orders can indeed be challenged in court without having to wait for the Environmental Protection Agency to take enforcement action.

It’s a case that turns on somewhat obscure questions about administrative procedure – but it will have ramifications for wetlands protection across the United States. At issue isn’t whether the Sackett’s property is or is not a wetland, but how the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responds to what it percieves as damage to wetlands.

Learn more.


Gather ‘Round the Soapbox!

Surf on over to the Ecosystem Commons’ Soapbox, where at present Eugene Water & Electric Board Source Protection Coordinator Karl Morgenstern has stepped up to make a case for shifting our focus from regulatory frameworks supporting markets to the opportunities right in front of our noses – in particular, public utilities.

“Imagine,” writes Morgenstern, “a public utility-led PES program that stays under the regulatory radar, rewards good stewardship with payments derived from small rate increases and other options, works with trusted local intermediaries to manage and monitor the overall program, comes up with a fair and relatively simple valuation system, and provides opportunities for landowners with less-than-stellar land conditions to use Farm Bill or other restoration funding to work their way into good stewardship payments.”

We also recommend taking a look at the previous forum – where Richard B. Norgaard, Professor of Energy and Resources at U.C. Berkeley, launched a bit of a controversy when he asked whether an ‘ecosystem services’ approach – while useful for drumming up conservation finance in the short run – is a metaphor that ultimately leads to inequity and an over-simplified relationship with nature. It’s now closed to new discussion but well worth a read.

Read more about Morgenstern’s idea and join the conversation.
Read the Norgaard Soapbox discussion.

Mitigation News

IPBES in Business

Seven years, 90 governments, and many, many negotiations have paid off: the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was officially launched on Sunday. IPBES, modeled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), aims to act as an impartial body facilitating dialogue between the science and policy communities on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Bonn, Germany will host the secretariat. A first order of business is to review existing initiatives and information like the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment to determine gaps in knowledge and capacity.

Learn more.


Big Plans for Biodiversity in the UK

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman recently announced that the government intends to support the development of new tools enabling public officials to consider natural capital in planning decisions. It’s the latest step in a natinoal ecosystem services assessment roadmap, following last year’s National Ecosystem Assessment and aiming at integrating biodiversity and ecosystem service values into the U.K.’s national accounts in the future. “We want to go even further so that the economic value of the natural world is fully understood,” said Spelman. “Of course, much of what we value in nature cannot be calculated in pounds and pence, but that’s precisely why we should find other ways of measuring it so that local authorities and government can take it into account when making decisions.”

The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) also officially launched its biodiversity offset pilots on April 2nd. Six pilot projects around the country will test out offsetting approaches and methodologies over the course of two years

Learn more about the latest stage in the National Eco-System Assessment.
Learn more about Defra’s biodiversity offset pilots.
Get background on offsets in the UK from Ecosystem Marketplace.


New BSR Report Tracks Ecosystem Service Policy Globally

A new report from BSR tracks ecosystem services policies around the world over the past three years. Global Public Policy Trends in Ecosystem Services 2009-2011 was written for business to build understanding around recent developments, but is a valuable resource for anyone in the field. The report covers existing policy and regulations, voluntary initiatives, research programs, and where these are happening. Avenues to policy influence through voluntary action are discussed, as are strategies for preparing for future regulation.

Download the report (pdf).


Are PES Programs in Mexico Benefiting Women?

An article from IPS News chronicles how payments for ecosystem services (PES) projects in Mexico often fail to benefit women. Protected areas in the country cover 25 million hectares; communities living in these areas have received more than 60 million dollars from the government for PES since 2003. Though women play a significant role in resource management, they’re not always rewarded for their efforts since land rights are largely controlled by men. “It has to be recognised that these areas provide services to cities, in terms of conservation, access to water, and the preservation of natural landscapes,” says Verí³nica Ví¡zquez, a college professor interviewed for the article. “Then there’s the distribution of the benefits in the communities, and that, from a gender perspective, is key. Women play a role in conservation, but they don’t receive benefits in exchange.”

Read the article.


First Aboriginal-owned Biodiversity Bank Opens in Australia’s Hunter Valley

A biodiversity bank will open in the Hunter, creating offsets for a railway line project, that’s both the first “biobank” in the Hunter Valley and the first in the country to be owned by an Aboriginal group, the Wonnarua National Aboriginal Corporation. Through a Bio-banking agreement with the Office of Environment and Heritage, the bank will create six hectares of biodiversity credits to compensate for the clearing of native vegetation by the Minimbah Bank Third Track project.


Get the full story.


Saving the World, One Biohectare at a Time

A blog post by Francis Vorhies at Forbes offers an overview of recent Green Development Initiative (GDI) thinking on creating a ‘BioAreas’ standard and registry. A ‘BioArea Standard’, built on Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) objectives, would certify sustainably managed areas. A BioArea standard, Vorhies notes, would also advance a new unit for measuring biodiversity – the “Biohectare.”

Read the post.


Protecting Blue Carbon From… Renewable Energy?

More than half of the world’s biological carbon is so-called ‘blue-carbon’: carbon sequestered in marine organisms and environments like mangrove swamps and salt marshes. In a recent opinion piece, Struan Stevenson, a Conservative Party MEP for Scotland and president of the European Parliament’s climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development intergroup, calls attention to a worrying trend: wind farms increasingly being built and planned in shallow waters in the North Sea and Scotland’s salt marshes. Stevenson calls for closer attention to wind energy development impacts on marine environments – otherwise, we risk destroying critical carbon sinks, not to mention all of the other benefits of healthy marine habitats. “Blue carbon sinks are far more effective in the battle against climate change than turbines can ever be,” writes Stevenson, “and it is time they received full protection.”

Read more.


Spring is Here – Time to Evaluate Impacts on Pollinators!

The International Pollinators’ Initiative released last month its Handbook for Participatory Socioeconomic Evaluation of Pollinator Friendly Practices. The handbook offers practical strategies and tips for engaging with agricultural producers to understand dependencies and impacts on pollinators. Extensive guidance is included on choosing, testing, and evaluating pollinator-friendly practices.


Download the handbook (pdf).




A Preview of California’s Draft Wetland Policy

Proposed changes to wetland permitting in California could mean big changes in the way wetlands are defined, delineated, and permitted in the state. An advance copy of the draft policy outlines a state process that looks substantially different from the federal approach, particularly in terms of potentially broader jurisdiction over ‘waters of the state’ and in prioritization of in-kind and on-site mitigation over private mitigation banks. A formal draft will be released later in 2012 for comments.


– a href=”http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=c53221b8-6d17-4c98-83e5-32172662e110&utm_source=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed&utm_medium=HTML+email+-+Body+-+Other+states+section&utm_campaign=Lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed+2012-03-26&utm_term=” style=”color:#456D96;text-decoration:none;”>Get analysis from Holland & KnightLLP at Lexology.


Will Wetland Protections in the New Farm Bill Dry Up?

A post at The Compleat Wetlander brings you up to date on expected changes to the US Farm Bill – which expires this September – and what it means for wetlands. An array of subsidy program are tied to compliance with the Swampbuster provision, which requires that farmers receiving payments not drain wetlands. These programs are all at risk of big funding cuts, as is the Wetlands Reserve Program. It’s not clear how many acres of wetlands could be affected, but author Jeanne Christie estimates it could be as much as ten percent of wetlands in the lower 48 states.

Read the full post.


Mitigation Banking Ascending in the Mountain State

West Virginia’s State Journal covered earlier this month the growth of wetland mitigation banking in the state, including a profile of Environmental Banc & Exchange (EBX)’s experiences to date. “If you look at mitigation in West Virginia three to four years ago, it’s safe to say it’s a lot different today,” EBX founder and director George Kelly explains. “The standards are higher and there’s more enforceability.”


Read the article.


New Mexico Takes the Lead in the Candidate Conservation Agreement Field

Last month in New Mexico, 248 000 acres of state trust lands were officially enrolled under a Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA) – the largest tract of land in a CCA to date. (Learn more about CCAs here.) The area – a mix of public and private lands – is home to both the sand dune lizard and lesser prairie chicken. Though slow to catch on in the state, the Bureau of Land Management is currently working with oil and gas companies, private landowners, and cattle ranchers to enroll more lands under similar agreements.

However, many wildlife advocacy groups are concerned that voluntary efforts like CCAs won’t be effective. Mark Salvo, wildlife program director of WildEarth Guardians, says he questions “how thoroughly [participants] will implement those voluntary measures…What if it is determined that what land users and land owners have agreed to do is not sufficient to conserve the species and they continue to decline?”


Keep reading at High Country News’ Goat Blog.





Ecosystem Marketplace – Boulder, CO

Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace is seeking a part-time intern. The Ecosystem Marketplace, a project of Forest Trends, is a leading source of news, data, and analytics on markets and payments for ecosystem services (such as water quality, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity). We believe that by making information on policy, finance, regulation, science, business, and other market-relevant factors accessible, markets for ecosystem services will one day become a fundamental part of our economic system, helping give value to environmental services that, for too long, have been taken for granted.

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Director seeks an intern to support in EM’s work in the transitional period of setting up a new Forest Trends office in Boulder, Colorado. The intern will help with research, writing, development, communications and some administration. These activities will cover a range of topical areas related to payments for ecosystem services, including forest and other voluntary carbon offsets, payments for watershed services, and biodiversity banking.

Learn more.


Environmental Conservation Economist

The Nature Conservancy – Cold Spring Harbor, NY USA

The Environmental Conservation Economist works as part of the Conservation Action Team to craft economic strategies for The Nature Conservancy’s work on Long Island today and over the next decade.The Economist will work to mainstream the economics of nature into everyday decisions and works with policy staff to develop long term solutions that will spur new investments in sustainability. He/She will ensure that the private and public sectors understand and value the benefits and services from nature. He/She is familiar with the science behind ecosystem-based adaptation and resilience strategies and makes economic policy recommendations that are science based.


Learn more.


Ecologist and Scientific Coordinator

Para la Tierra – Misiones, Paraguay

Para la Tierra is seeking a Ecologist and Scientific Coordinator. The Ecologist and Scientific Coordinator will be in charge of supervising all intern projects onsite, in close collaboration with the Scientific Director, who lives offsite. (S)he will also be expected to communicate with the interns via email prior to their visit in order to help them begin planning their project. One of these projects is a behavioural and ecological study of a tribe of capuchin monkeys which are resident in the reserve. (S)he will be expected to conduct a research project(s) based on individual research specialty/interests, as well as developing grant proposals and other programmatic work.

Learn more.




Biodiversity Without Boundaries Conference

The annual NatureServe Conservation & Natural Heritage Conference, “Biodiversity Without Boundaries” will be held in Portland, OR April 22-26, 2012. Ecosystem services is one of the featured topics on the agenda, which will include a full day of sessions and workshops on this theme. 22-26 April 2012. Portland OR.


Learn more.


National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference

The only national conference that brings together key players in this industry, and offers quality hands-on sessions and important regulatory updates. Learn from & network with the 400+ attendees the conference draws, offering perspectives from bankers, regulators, and users. 8-11 May 2012. Sacramento CA.


Learn more.


2012 Yale Conservation Finance Camp

The 6th annual Yale Conservation Finance Camp will be held at Yale University, Monday, June 4 through Friday, June 8, 2012. The course offers the latest information on a wide range of innovative conservation finance tools, including new sources of philanthropic funds, public capital and private investment, as well as a framework for analyzing and packaging them. The camp is focused on useful, hands-on tools for conservation practitioners and board members, foundation leaders, private investors and graduate students. This highly interactive course is limited to 20 participants. Registration is on a first-come-first-served basis. For further information and a participant application please contact Amy Badner at [email protected] or visit the camp webpage. 4-8 June 2012. New Haven, CT.



Workshop: Regulatory and Institutional Frameworks for Markets for Ecosystem Services

This workshop seeks to contribute to research and learning on the law and policy on ecosystems services by focusing on the regulatory and institutional challenges in creating markets for ecosystems services. The workshop goal is to enable outcome-oriented interaction between experts, innovators, and front-end users of these evolving market models to learn about recent progress, what strategies can be adopted to encourage cross-learning between different models for regulatory and institutional frameworks, and how to design new institutional and regulatory mechanisms that can help preserve ecosystem services? The workshop will enable the development of collaborative projects between participants on the elaboration of methodological tools for the development of regulatory and institutional frameworks for ecosystems services. 6 June 2012 – 7 June 2012. University of Surrey, UK.


Learn more.


5th Annual International ESP Conference

The Ecosystem Services Partnership invites you to the 5th annual ESP conference. Don’t miss your chance to interact and exchange ideas with practitioners, educators, policy-makers, researchers, and many others. Be part of working-groups producing outcomes ranging from journal articles, white papers, book chapters (if enough we can put together a book out of this conference), grant proposals, database structures, websites, and much more. This conference is being organised jointly with the International Association of Landscape Ecology (IALE) and A Community on Ecosystem Services (ACES). 31 July – 4 August 2012. Portland, Oregon, United States.


Learn more.


International Conference on Biodiversity & Sustainable Energy Development

OMICS Group’s International Conference on Biodiversity & Sustainable Energy Development, Biodiversity-2012 takes the theme “Implying Research into Socio Ecological Studies to Conserve Biodiversity.” Biodiversity-2012 is comprised of 12 tracks and 77 sessions designed to offer comprehensive sessions that address current issues in Implying research into the Socio Ecological Studies to Conserve Biodiversity. Abstracts are currently being accepted. 14-15 September 2012. Hyderabad, India.


Learn more.


ACES and Ecosystem Markets 2012

ACES and Ecosystem Markets 2012 is an international collaboration of three dynamic communities – A Community on Ecosystem Services (ACES), the Ecosystem Markets Conference, and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP). The conference will provide an open forum to share experiences and state-of-the-art methods, tools, and processes for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference will be to link science, practice, institutions and resource sustainable decision making by bringing together ecosystem services communities from around the United States and the globe. 10-12 December 2012. Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA.


Learn more.

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