This Week in Biodiversity: The Restoration Economy Is Bigger Than We Thought

A new study estimates the economic impact of the ecological restoration industry at $25 billion finding it directly employs more people than the mining, logging or steel sectors. Meanwhile, Wyoming ranchland is doubling as a conservation bank for the dwindling greater sage-grouse.

16 July 2015 | Greetings! Powerhouse industries like agriculture and energy along with their supporters in the US legislature lined up to contest the recently-finalized Clean Water Rule. As usual, their argument is economic: expanding the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction, they argue, kills jobs.  
But the counter-argument is also economic: regulation may kill some jobs, but it creates others – and, in the long term, it provides the clean air, clean water, and stable climate needed to support a healthy economy.


Now there are numbers to bolster that argument: according to a new study, ‘Estimating the Size and Impact of the Ecological Restoration Economy,’ environmental regulation is driving a $25-billion-per year “restoration industry” in the United States that directly employs more people than coal mining, logging or steel production.


“There are downsides to environmental regulations but there may be upsides as well. And one of the upsides may be a larger and stronger ecological restoration industry which has a major economic spillover effect,” said report author Todd BenDor, an Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning with an environmental specialty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can learn more about the new study here.


Speaking of great jobs in the restoration economy, check out the Job Listings section of this month’s Mitigation Mail. Ecosystem Marketplace is hiring a manager, and the Biodiversity Consultancy, the Colorado Conservation Exchange,Environmental Incentives, and WRA Environmental Consultants are all looking for good people.


This month’s news brief also has coverage of a conservation bank for the greater sage-grouse, recommendations on strengthening implementation of the mitigation hierarchy, and a review of marine conservation finance. Enjoy!

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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

EM Exclusives

Ecological Restoration Is A $25 Billion Industry That Generates 220,000 Jobs

Critics like to portray environmental regulation as a job killer, but the restoration economy now provides more jobs than mining, logging, or steel production – all while actually fixing the environment instead of destroying it – according to a new study.

 Learn more from Ecosystem Marketplace.

New Conservation Bank Aims To Save The Roaming Sage-Grouse

The greater sage-grouse might not be officially listed as endangered, but conservation of the bird is in full swing. This spring, conservation banking officially entered the fray with the creation of the first sage-grouse bank in Wyoming, a venture spanning thousands of acres that suggests a shift in species banking as well as in overall conservation strategy.

 Keep reading here.

World Bank Seeks Clearer Role for Biodiversity Offsetting

The second phase of the World Bank’s environmental and social safeguards review saw public consultation stressing clarity around the role of offsetting within the mitigation hierarchy, as well as the need for the hierarchy in the logging and hydropower sectors. The review team also stressed that no offsetting should take place within critical habitat areas. A third phase of review will be introduced following discussions this summer.

 Get a summary from Forest Trends’ BBOP.

Mitigation News

Lawsuits Against New Clean Water Rule Flood US Courts

Several states unhappy with the new Clean Water Rule are filing lawsuits in an attempt to stop its creators, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers, from enforcing it. States including North Dakota, Louisiana, and Texas claim the rule is an unnecessary federal overreach that only brings uncertainty to landowners.

 Reuters has the story.
 Additional coverage of the North Dakota court case is available here.

Faulty Regulation Puts Endangered Species in Danger in California

A University of Buffalo Law School associate professor’s investigation into the use of incidental take permits under the Endangered Species Act in California led to a disturbing discovery: a lack of documentation and coordination by local administrators, suggesting little agency understanding or oversight of mitigation requirements. “A first step is simply to improve our record-keeping in this area and to revisit agency guidance governing habitat mitigation,” says Associate Professor Jessica Owley, who describes her findings as “chilling…How can the agencies be keeping track of mitigation when they don’t have the documents detailing what the mitigation is?”

 Learn more about Owley’s research here.

Shoring Up the Mit Hierarchy

A rash of recent bad press for biodiversity offset projects can be partly put down to poor application of the mitigation hierarchy (first avoid, minimize, and then as a last resort mitigate for adverse impacts). A new report from the Cambridge Conservation Initiative makes some recommendations for strengthening the mitigation hierarchy: crucially, governments need to set clear regulations – and enforce them. There’s also a role for international finance institutions (IFIs) and the corporate sector to commit to applying the mitigation hierarchy in their activities, and a need for better guidance in doing so. Finally, authors stress the importance of making sure that avoidance is long term, such as through the use of no-net-loss (NNL) or net-positive-impact (NPI) targets.

 Read the paper here (pdf).

Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing

Forestry experts are calling into question the Indian government’s massive afforestation plan, stating that monoculture forest ecosystems fail to support diverse ecosystems. The experts instead recommend a conservation campaign to preserve existing biodiversity-rich forests, grasslands and wetlands that maintain vital ecosystem services in the country.

 Read more at India Today.

It’s a Sign of Compromise When No One is Happy?

In late May, the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released final environmental impact statements for resource management plans (RMPs) developed by western states to guide greater sage grouse conservation. The plans are an effort to keep the grouse of the endangered species list. But they don’t seem to have many fans: environmental groups filed formal complaints in response, saying the RMPs provide too many loopholes for oil, gas and energy transmission projects. Oil and gas producers on the other hand have filed challenges (along with ag groups) arguing that BLM’s plans are too restrictive.

 Get analysis from Latham & Watkins, via Lexology.
 Find out more about the RMPs at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Report Analyzes the Growing Marine Conservation Finance Field

A new report identifies five challenges facing marine conservation finance that include a funding gap and a disconnect from conservation planning. Marine Conservation Finance: the need for and scope of an emerging field identifies some priority strategies for the sector, including integrating financial planning into conservation implementation, and engaging the private sector to scale up funding.

 Read it here.

Giving Market Mechanisms a Go in Pakistan

Pakistan is trying out market mechanisms to preserve the unique and endangered biodiversity in its northern areas. Backed by the national Ministry of Climate Change, the “Mountains and Market Biodiversity and Business in Northern Pakistan” project aims to build capacity for certified production of biodiversity-friendly non-timber forest products, supporting both sustainable livelihoods and conservation.

 Learn more about the project.

$8 Billion is a Lot, But is it Enough?

As the government hammers out a settlement agreement with BP over its 2010 oil spill, a massive $8 billion influx of funds is set to flow to Gulf Coast restoration. While it’s the largest cash infusion to date to the state’s colossal restoration efforts, some environmental groups say that compared to the damages from the spill, it isn’t nearly enough.


Risk Should Outweigh Biodiversity and Carbon in Saving Indonesia’s Forests

Forest areas in Indonesia containing large forest carbon stocks don’t often coincide with areas of abundant biodiversity, according to a new study mapping carbon and biodiversity values, deforestation threats, and REDD+ activities in Indonesia. Given that reality on the ground, report authors suggest that REDD project developers focus on areas with a high risk of deforestation rather than on carbon density or biological diversity.

 Keep reading here.

China’s Biodiversity Finds Unlikely Supporter in Tire Factory

A tire manufacturer is initiating biodiversity conservation near its facility in China, where rapid economic development is degrading a nearby riverside marsh. The initiative, which is in coordination with Hangzhou Normal University’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences, will span three years, beginning with data collection and water quality monitoring to inform implementation of biodiversity conservation activities.

 Learn more here.

New Government Web Platform Puts Environmental Markets on Display

The US Department of Agriculture has made public a new online platform that showcases its work supporting the growth of environmental markets. The site is full of success stories, the department says, and will continue to be updated with new tools and news on the subject.

 Learn more at the USDA blog.

Location, Location, Location

New research on agricultural conversion in Brazil finds that location plays a big role in preserving biodiversity amidst deforestation. According to the study, clearing trees from an intact forest causes up to four times more damage to biodiversity and carbon than deforestation on a forest edge. As agricultural land is expected to expand significantly in the coming years, researchers suggest molding policy and land management activities to avoid habitat fragmentation.

 Find out more from Stanford News.



Colorado Conservation Exchange – Fort Collins CO, USA

The Colorado Conservation Exchange is seeking an entrepreneurial leader and innovative manager to become the founding Director of the Colorado Conservation Exchange. The Exchange Director will guide a three-year process to establish a watershed investment fund capable of mobilizing resources and engaging land stewards in projects to improve watershed health. The position requires a person who thrives on challenges, has excellent project management skills and who knows how to engage and encourage diverse stakeholders to work together to achieve significant results.

 Learn more here.


Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace – Washington DC, USA

The Ecosystem Marketplace Manager will support and grow our range of activities, products, readership, and profile across ecosystem research areas (forestry, water, biodiversity, agriculture). As an integrated member of the Forest Trends management team, the Manager will ensure consistently high-quality products are developed by a dependable and expert team, in concert with Forest Trends’ mission and strategy.

 Learn more here.

Conservation Finance Manager

WRA Environmental Consultants – Denver CO, USA

You want to make a difference in your world while working in the private sector. You are passionate about the balance between economic development and environmental concerns. You consider yourself an entrepreneur and want to work with creative leaders in finance. You enjoy working with a small team, in a fast-paced environment and you have great research and writing skills. If that sounds like you, let’s start a conversation. The Conservation Finance Manager will work closely with the Managing Director in charge of the practice. The successful candidate will join a small team in Denver and will help to grow the office and, over time, may grow to manage his/her own staff. The recently opened Denver office offers the feel and the opportunities of a start-up with the resources of a large company. This position will come with a significant amount of autonomy; and the successful candidate is expected to take initiative and, over time, to develop his/her own portfolio of clients.


 Learn more here.

Senior Principal Consultant

The Biodiversity Consultancy – Cambridge, UK

The Biodiversity Consultancy (TBC) works with financial, industry, government and NGO sectors in providing conservation science and environmental management expertise to meet the complex biodiversity and ecosystem service risks faced by industry and recognized by stakeholders.TBC is particularly interested in finding an individual with outstanding analytical, writing, project delivery and diplomacy skills who is able to build bridges – both technical and political – between conservation and the industry sectors. As well as core work in policy and project design (no net loss, offsets, PS6), TBC has an increasing focus on capacity building in Africa and Asia to ensure the long term sustained delivery of company biodiversity programmes. Candidates with French and/or Spanish language skills will be especially welcomed.

 Learn more here.


Environmental Incentives – South Lake Tahoe CA, USA

Environmental Incentives is seeking to hire one or two Associates to join the team at our headquarters in South Lake Tahoe, CA starting in July 2015. All available Associate positions are full-time. Associates must be willing to travel domestically for short periods at least monthly. Associates will be supporting Environmental Incentives’ Wildlife & Land Initiative to advance conservation solutions for candidate and listed species, or our Investment Effectiveness Initiative to drive the effectiveness of public and private sector conservation investments. All EI staff must be able to work effectively in project teams that include staff from EI, partner companies, clients, and stakeholders. Associates serve as the primary producer and manager for projects, creating high-quality products and contributing creative ideas.

 Learn more here.



The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) is proud to team up for the first time with Agropolis international and the French Foundation for Research on Biodiversity (FRB) to host the 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB) and the 4th European Congress for Conservation Biology (ECCB). The joint meeting brings together our international community of conservation professionals to address conservation challenges and present new findings, initiatives, methods, tools and opportunities in conservation science and practice. It’s also a marvelous opportunity to welcome scientists and conservationists from around the world to Europe. Scientists, students, managers, decision-makers, writers, and other conservation professionals across the globe are invited to participate in this event. 2-6 August 2015. Montpellier, France.

 Learn more here.

6th SER World Conference on Ecological Restoration

SER 2015 in Manchester aims to be the major restoration event of the year. Building on recent successful world congresses and regional meetings such as SER Europe 2013 in Finland, we hope to attract a large number of academics and practitioners who will share good practice and network successfully in one of the homes of the industrial revolution. The title: “Towards resilient ecosystems: restoring the urban, the rural and the wild” should provide something for everyone, whether working in highly urbanised, ex-agricultural, or natural wild environments. We mean this conference to be as inclusive as possible and are keen to showcase not only the important scientific developments, issues and solutions, but also the cultural, educational and artistic aspects of restoration ecology. We are hosting a wide range of different types of events during the conference period, with pre-conference training workshops, conference symposia posters, workshops, and oral presentations, as well as half day field trips to see landscapes at first hand. 23-27 August 2015. Manchester, United Kingdom.

 Learn more here.

International Summer School: InVEST Models – Mapping and Valuating Ecosystem Services for Better Decision Making

Join the UNIPD/INFORMED/UNIMOL/NATCAP Summer School and Intensive Training on ”InVEST Models: Mapping and Valuating Ecosystem Services for better decision making” to learn how to integrate natural capital value into policy, business and management decisions spending one week in the heart of the Dolomite mountains, a zone of outstanding universal value among UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 7-11 September 2015. San Vito, Italy.

 Learn more here.


We are a network of heart-centered investors, entrepreneurs, and social impact leaders who believe in an inclusive and socially responsible economy to address the world’s toughest challenges. Since 2008, SOCAP has created a platform where social impact leaders can connect and present their ideas to a global audience. Our annual flagship event in San Francisco is the largest conference for impact investors and social entrepreneurs and has drawn more than 10,000 people. 6-9 October 2015. San Francisco CA, USA.

 Learn more here.

8th ESP World Conference

The Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) is a worldwide network, founded in 2008, to enhance the science and practical application of ecosystem services. To facilitate the needed dialogue between scientists, policy makers and practitioners ESP organises an annual international conference in different parts of the world. The central theme is ‘Ecosystem Services for Nature, People and Prosperity’. The conference will pay special attention to the public and private sector dialogue on how the ecosystem services concept can be used to support conservation, improve livelihoods and engage the business community. 9-13 November 2015. Stellenbosch, South Africa.

 Learn more here.

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