This Week in Biodiversity: $100 million in Conservation Easements

August is normally a pretty slow news month, but we’re seeing lots of interesting projects these days.  Like the Forest Stewardship Council piloting ecosystem service management indicators in their certification.  And landowners recieving $100 million in conservation easements for 24,000 acres of Florida wetlands.  Plus, the Ecosystem Marketplace and Mission Markets webinar is now available for streaming.

NOTE: This article has been reprinted from Ecosystem Marketplace’s Mitigation Mail newsletter. You can receive this summary of global news and views from the world of biodiversity automatically in your inbox here.

6 September 2011 | August is normally a pretty slow news month, but we’re seeing lots of interesting projects these days. Many of the stories in this MitMail newsletter cover organizations and countries experimenting with environmental offsets and compensation mechanisms for the first time, with promising results. There are also some great job openings and events planned – don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom!
We have a recording of the Ecosystem Marketplace – Mission Markets July webinar, “Biodiversity Markets: Challenges and Opportunities in the Developing World,” now available for streaming. The webinar offered an expert panel on biodiversity market mechanisms in the development context, and presented findings from EM’s 2011 Update: State of Biodiversity Markets   report. Discussion ranged from how countries like India are using the TEEB report findings, to a review of promising initiatives in Latin America, to new roles for private and non-profit actors in driving biodiversity markets forward.
You can stream the webinar recording here. Many thanks to Mission Markets for hosting!
Read on for the latest news from around the world in protecting biodiversity through financial incentives.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at [email protected].


How Brook Trout Credits May Support Clean Cows

With cleanup plans for the Chesapeake Bay moving ahead, there’s been a push to bring the habitat banking model to the area. The Pinchot Institute’s Bay Bank is currently piloting a project in West Virginia to generate brook trout habitat credits for the voluntary market. They’re working with an organic cattle ranch that’s hoping to realize an additional income stream via sustainability, a promising model in a region where farmers are being economically squeezed.


The Bay Bank is also looking for more farm and woodland owners in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, specifically in Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties, to get into the conservation credit game. It’s offering $40,000 to eligible land owners to assist in developing brook trout habitat credits.

Get the story on the Bay Bank pilot
Learn more about developing conservation credits

Cap and Trade Beats Slash and Shirk

Nobody wants a regulatory apparatus that is bloated, inefficient, and opaque, but most of us do want clean air, clean water, and a sustainable economy. Ecosystem markets can support all of these goals in a way that’s lean, efficient, and transparent – something that self-described “fiscal conservatives” should be championing. So, asks Steve Zwick on the Eko-Eco blog, why aren’t they?


Market-based programs “work because they promote responsible land stewardship in a way that is transparent, efficient, and effective,” Zwick points out. “Ecosystem markets funnel money from those who consume or destroy ecosystem services to those who restore or provide them – thus reducing the kind of foggy subsidies that fiscal conservatives claim to abhor.”

Read the full piece here

Battle of the Stacking Metaphors: Pie, “Bundles of Sticks”, or a Party Foul?


Ecosystem Commons hit the ground running in August with a lively discussion on stacking in ecosystem services markets that, while now closed for new comments, is well worth a read. It’s a timely topic as markets across the US consider whether to allow stacking, wherein land managers can tap multiple markets and income streams based on a single restoration activity. For example, should you be allowed to market the same project in both the carbon and the water quality markets, or is this ‘double-dipping’? More to the point, asks convener Lydia Olander, do the potential ecological benefits of stacking outweigh the tricky market design problems that stacking poses?


Visit the discussion
Learn more about the stacking debate here

Public PES Insights from the Middle Kingdom

Forest Trends published a new paper in August drawing on insights from the Chinese government’s use of payments for ecosystem services (PES) to address the country’s looming environmental problems. Buyer, Regulator, and Enabler – The Government’s Role in Ecosystem Services Markets also examines the public sector’s relationship with PES more generally. The authors note that public sector roles are evolving in three distinct ways: government as buyer, regulator, or enabler of ecosystem services transactions. The paper details these different roles, provides some key examples, and discusses what insights international experience and trends have for the People’s Republic of China, as it continues to modify and refine the government’s role in conservation and environmental policy.

Read the paper here

Mitigation News

“Ecosystem Services Stewardship Council” Does Have a Nice Ring to It


The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which sets the global standard in accreditation for sustainable forest management, has gotten the nod from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to start testing the waters in ecosystem services management. This month, the FSC is kicking off a four-year project to measure outcomes for ecosystem services including biodiversity, REDD+, and recreation in its existing standards. The FSC plans to implement pilot projects in Indonesia, Vietnam, Nepal, and Chile. A major goal is to identify robust indicators measuring compliance. The FSC expects to eventually incorporate these ecosystem services-focused indicators into all FSC national and international standards.


Read more here

The Recipe for a License to Operate: Lots of Biodiversity Offsets

Australian mining firm Coal of Africa (CoAL) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) last week with South Africa’s National Parks administration and Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), to offset biodiversity impacts arising from its mining operations. CoAL’s Vele project was shut down last year for failing to comply with the country’s National Environmental Management Act, and again last month when NGOs appealed its water use license; the MoU is part of an agreement to get CoAL’s compliance notice lifted. The Vele mine is located near the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site. The DEA’s comments to reporters suggest that requiring biodiversity offsets will be standard practice for new mining development in the area. Little information about the scope or structure of the deal has been made available to the public.

Read more here

Priceless Wilderness Can Be Yours for Another $60 Million


There’s an immense oil field – probably twenty percent of Ecuador’s total reserves – right under the pristine Yasuní­ National Park, which also happens to be, hectare for hectare, the most biodiverse spot on earth. The forest is also home to numerous indigenous groups. Given this dilemma, Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa, offered the world a deal. If the world could raise $3.6 billion, half of the oilfield’s estimated value, he would simply leave the oil in the ground. It was a bold move and a brilliant illustration of the trade-offs that developing countries are stuck with in protecting their environments.


Unfortunately, Correa’s offer came with deadlines, and one is quickly approaching. A ‘down payment’ of $100 million is needed by December, or a Chinese company starts drilling. So far, about $40 million has been raised, thanks to donations from Italy, Spain, Chile, Peru, and supportive individuals. The funds would be used to protect natural areas and invest in renewable energy options in Ecuador. But right now, prospects for protecting Yasuní­ are looking a little shaky.


Get the full story

The Australian Government Would Like You to Have At Its Biodiversity Policy


The Australian Government is seeking comments on its draft biodiverstiy policy. The draft policy calls for, among other things, a bigger role for the federal government in the country’s flourishing biodiversity offset markets, and a stronger emphasis on leveraging private-sector funding for biodiversity conservation.


Public comments will be accepted until October 21st, 2011.


Read the draft policy (pdf)
Click here for instructions on providing comments

Making Biodiversity Markets Work in Agricultural Landscapes

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has a new report out on the agriculture-environment link, drawing on its own lessons learned from payments for ecosystem services projects and agri-environmental policies around the world. Payments for Ecosystem Services and Food Security gets into the nitty-gritty details, offering case studies, specific recommendations for biodiversity offset market design, and thought-provoking discussion of topics like channeling carbon investment to biodiversity banks, applying the ‘precautionary principle’ to biodiversity markets, and why offsets shouldn’t be traded til they ‘mature’.

Download the report here

In Canada, A Compensation Project Aims for ‘Net Gain’

In Ontario, Hydro One is partnering with local conservation groups to carry out biodiversity restoration projects in four watersheds, in an effort to increase local wildlife habitat on public lands and a First Nations Reserve. This is a departure from Hydro One’s usual strategy of a like-for-like replacement of the woodlots destroyed along the routes of its high-voltage transmission lines. Hydro One’s proposed Bruce to Milton Project will clear about 280 hectares of woodlot; an estimated 380 ha of woodlot and wildlife habitat will be restored and enhanced under the new program. Hydro One expects to spend about CAD $2 million on a total of 22 projects in the area.

Read about a recent project
Click here for background on Hydro One’s Biodiversity Initiative

England’s New Biodiversity Strategy Tests the Offset Waters

England’s just released its new biodiversity strategy that plots the course for stemming biodiversity loss by 2020. One initiative that caught our attention is a two-year program to pilot biodiversity offsets on several sites. If the Government likes what it sees, use of offsets could be ramped up starting in 2014. The published strategy is accompanied by two papers reporting findings from ecosystem services valuation studies, including projected changes in values through 2020 under the new Biodiversity Action Plan.

Read a press release here
Direct download of the biodiversity strategy
Download the companion valuation studies



Demystifying the Ecosystem Services Crediting Process

Oregon’s Willamette Partnership and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation have just launched their new Ecosystem Crediting Platform. The platform guides users – it’s targeted at your average land owner – through the full process of site mapping, comparing different project designs, calculating credits, and then getting those credits verified and registered. It even helps users generate monitoring reports tailored to their specific crediting protocol once restoration work begins on the ground. The idea is to make the crediting process as standardized and transparent as possible, says the Willamette Partnership.

Read more here
Take the new platform for a test drive

A Good Day for Wetlands in Florida

The USDA has signed off on a deal that will put thousands of acres under conservation easement around Lake Okeechobee, part of Florida’s Everglades system. Through the Wetlands Reserve Program, US $100 million will go to land owners in the area in exchange for development rights on around 24,000 acres northwest of the lake, with an eye to restoring the area’s natural wetlands.


The Nature Conservancy’s Florida Director of Acquisition Keith Fountain praises the transaction: “This is not a case of government coming in and buying land outright,” says Fountain. “You’re getting permanent conservation but at the same time the land remains in private hands.” The easement follows a similar $89 million purchase of development rights in the area last year.

Read more at the Miami Herald

Greening the Garden State, One Wetland Bank at a Time


GreenVest has gotten final bank approval on its 138 acre wetland site in the Millstone Basin, New Jersey, with restoration slated to begin this fall. The site will create around 38 wetland credits. Mitigation credits from the site will be released for sale shortly. They’ve also just wrapped up the first phase of construction on a 20+ acre site in New Brunswick, which included seeding wild rice to test its salt and tidal range tolerance in the Raritan River. “Three upper (fresh water) plots have taken with over 100% cover of wild rice,” reports GreenVest. “As far as we are aware, this would be the first known stand of wild rice on the Raritan River since pre-colonial times.”



Click here to learn more

Alliance for Chesapeake Bay Brings in a New Executive Director

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (ACB) announced a new Executive Director last month, Albert H. Todd. Todd joinsthe ACB from the US Department of Agriculture’s Office of Environmental Markets, where he served as Chesapeake Bay Team Leader, and the Forest Service, where he was Assistance Director for Ecosystem Services and Markets. Todd took the helm at the ACB on September 1st, as efforts to restore the Bay continue to pick up speed. May the Force be with him.

Read the press release here



Business and Biodiversity: The Next Sustainability Challenge

There is a growing concern in business about biodiversity loss and change and about the risks and opportunities biodiversity entails for the bottom line. This roundtable will present and discuss the implications of biodiversity issues for the business world. The purpose is also to identify critical trade-offs for society and business, and discover new ways of being smart in front of systemic interdependences. 23 September. INSEAD, Fontainebleau Campus, France.

Learn more here.


Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: New Tools to Help You Address Risk and Opportunity

Societal expectations of companies’ management of impacts and opportunities related to biodiversity and ecosystem service (BES) are changing fast. The recently revised IFC Performance Standards and emerging national and regional policy frameworks on BES create a new landscape for your company or clients’ operations. This one-day training session by the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme (BBOP) will prepare you to handle biodiversity risk and opportunity by focussing on the requirement for ‘no net loss’ in IFC Performance Standard 6 and the emerging BBOP standard on biodiversity offsets. 26 October, Washington DC.

Learn more here (pdf).

Ecosystem Services: Integrating Science and Practice 4th International ESP Conference

This conference aims to provide a continuous platform for researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to exchange information and ideas about new developments and pressing issues on the Science and Practice of Ecosystem Services (and to strengthen the partnership). 4-7 October. Wageningen, Gelderland, Netherlands.

Learn more here.



The 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will be held from 8-19 October. The High Level Segment will be held from 17-19 October 2012. The provisional agenda includes consideration of: the status of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their Utilization; implementation of the Strategic Plan 2011-2020 and progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets; issues related to financial resources and the financial mechanism; and more. 8-19 October, Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh), India.

Learn more here.


UNEP-FI Global Roundtable “The Tipping Point: Sustained Stability in the Next Economy”

UNEP FI’s 2011 Global Roundtable is the perfect opportunity to cast a spotlight on what the sustainable development agenda means for the world’s finance, investment and insurance sectors. 19-20 October. Washington, DC.

Learn more here.


The TEEB Conference 2012, Mainstreaming the Economics of Nature: Challenges for Science and Implementation

TEEB invites the research and policy community to Leipzig, Germany, to discuss the state of the art in Environmental Valuation, Ecosystem Services and Science-Policy Processes. Conference participants will have the possibility to discuss and update the findings of the TEEB study and contribute with their own findings, experiences and approaches to a new understanding of the link between economics, decision-making and the environment. 19-22 March, Leipzig, Germany.

Learn more here.


SAC-SEPA Biennial conference: Valuing Ecosystems: Policy, Economic and Management Interactions

This conference will seek to present not only the best possible scientific understanding of the complexities associated with the delivery of multiple ecosystem services but also provide a forum to raise and discuss what still needs to be done to have an ecosystem approach recognised and supported by land managers, researchers and policy makers. 3-4 April 2012. Edinburgh, Scotland.

Read more about the conference here.

Learn more here.






Forest Stewardship Council

GEF Project Manager

Under the supervision of the FSC IC Policy and Standards Unit Ecosystem Services Program Coordinator (as Project Director), the consultant in his/her position of Project Manager will be responsible for coordinating and supporting the implementation of the FSC/GEF project “Expanding Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification at Landscape Level through incorporating additional Ecosystem Services”. The project aims at improving and promoting sustainable forest management for a range of ecosystem services through the medium of FSC certification.


Learn more here (pdf).


United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre


Business, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Head of Programme (Maternity Cover)

The United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) aims to put the best available biodiversity information in front of national, regional and global decision makers. The successful candidate will maintain the Business, Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (BBES) Programme during the current post holder’s maternity leave. The main purpose of the role will be to manage the BBES team, lead the development of the Programme and oversee the growing portfolio of projects and partnerships.

Learn more here.


FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture


Technical Officer (Biodiversity and Environment)

The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) keeps under review all matters related to the Organization’s policy, programmes and activities regarding all components of biodiversity of relevance to food and agriculture. At its Eleventh Regular Session, the Commission adopted its Multi-Year Programme of Work (MYPOW), which allows it to implement its full mandate covering all components of biodiversity for food and agriculture in a planned and staged approach, to programme its cooperation with other relevant international instruments and Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA) and to coordinate with relevant international processes. This post will directly support this work.


Learn more here.


United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) – Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC)

Intern/Volunteer: Support the development of TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) studies in Latin America and the Caribbean

The biodiversity unit of UNEP-ROLAC is looking for bright and motivated professionals that would like to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in Latin America and the Caribbean, acting as intern or volunteer for this UN organization.

Learn more here.



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