This Week in Biodiversity: A Candidate Species Marketplace Gains Steam

At Ecosystem Marketplace, we’ve been following with interest recent developments in candidate species conservation banking. A ‘candidate species’ is a species that’s recognized as at-risk but not yet officially listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened or endangered. 

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.


March 21 |  At Ecosystem Marketplace, we’ve been following with interest recent developments in candidate species conservation banking. A ‘candidate species’ is a species that’s recognized as at-risk but not yet officially listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened or endangered.  


Last week, the Department of Interior opened up a public comment period seeking input on whether and how regulators should allow “advance mitigation,” wherein a landowner’s actions to protect candidate species habitat could count as an offset later on if the species is ultimately listed. Advance mitigation would give private landowners incentives for conservation and drive a potentially significant candidate species marketplace in the US. Keep reading for more details on the public comment period and a story about a candidate species pilot already underway.


We’d also like to draw your attention to a new venture from the Ecosystem Marketplace team,  Watershed Connect.  Watershed Connect is a collaborative platform focusing on  payments for watershed services, water quality and environmental water markets, and other innovative financing mechanisms for protecting natural water infrastructure. It  offers practitioners, decision-makers, and other actors the latest news, resources, collaborative tools, and project information. Take a look and please let us know what you think!


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—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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Building the New Candidate Species Marketplace

The US Department of the Interior last week initiated a public comment period on proposed rulemaking on incentives for voluntary wildlife conservation on private lands, including the creation of a new “Candidate Species Marketplace” that focuses on at-risk – but not yet officially protected – species. As envisioned, a new type of conservation banking agreement would provide assurances to landowners that voluntary actions to protect candidate species habitat would count toward offsets if the species is later listed under the Endangered Species Act. The US Fish & Wildlife Service is already supporting these actions under a $33 million initiative. But with a 2016 deadline for listing decisions on hundreds of species looming, demand for regulatory certainty is likely to be enormous.


A new pilot led by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Advanced Conservation Strategies (ACS) is already exploring the potential for candidate conservation banking, including key lessons learned about the nature of supply, demand, and transaction infrastructure when it comes to candidate species. The project, which aims to develop incentives for voluntary conservation of gopher tortoise habitat in the Southern US forests, offers a preview of a candidate marketplace in action.

Read about the WRI/ACS pilot at Ecosystem Marketplace.
Read the press release about Interior’s proposed rulemaking and submit your comments.
Read the notice in the Federal Register.

Labels, Markets, and the Law: Salmon Scores a Triple


On the West Coast of the United States, a coalition of organizations developing tools for environmental finance and an eco-labeling group are working together to layer the carrot of financial incentives onto the stick of regulation. The coalition is the Willamette Partnership; the eco-labeling group is Salmon Safe; and they’ve dubbed their project the “Incentives Trifecta” – so-named because it uses eco-labels to drive consumer demand, ecosystem markets to provide additional income, and regulatory assurances to provide a degree of security.


Get the full story at Ecosystem Marketplace.

‘Watershed Connect’ Platform Promotes Watershed Payments Mechanisms

Last week at the 6th World Water Forum, Forest Trends launched its newest venture, Watershed Connect, a platform that aims to foster projects using innovative financing models to invest in natural water infrastructure. Watershed Connect tracks the latest news, practice, and resources in the worlds of payments for watershed services, water quality trading, and environmental water markets. The platform is part of a larger Forest Trends initiative to scale up watershed payments as a solution to the global water crisis, and to convene a community of practice around the model. “Conversations about investing in watershed services have tended to be cordoned off by sector or watershed,” says Dr. Jan Cassin, the director of the project behind Watershed Connect. “Watershed Connect will allow us to overcome that obstacle and bring these approaches to the scale we need to meet the global water crisis.”

Visit Watershed Connect.
Read a press release.

Indigenous Groups Launch Ground-Breaking Environmental Regime


As the Brazilian state of Acre rolls out its ambitious legal framework, System of Incentives for Environmental Services (Sistema de Incentivo a Serviços Ambientais, or “SISA”), it’s beginning with indigenous groups because of their unique relationship with the land. The state has spent the last two years engaging indigenous leaders – both to explain the goals of the program and to seek input on how to best implement it. “This is a chance to work with the state, rather than to sit back while the state runs and manages everything,” says Jose Ninawí¡, a member of the Kaxinawí¡ and president of the Huni Kuin Indigenous Federation. “We need the support and partnership of the state, but the state also needs us if this effort is to be sustainable.”


Get the full story.

Mitigation News

Small Businesses Get Credit for Biodiversity in Central America

The Central American Markets for Biodiversity (CAMBio) program has launched a new credit guarantee program through the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE). BCIE will offer $1.49 million in credit gurarantees for local bank loans to small, micro- and medium-sized enterprises with biodiversity-friendly operations. The program will be active in banks across Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Learn more at IISD.
Read a press release (in Spanish).

When Standardized Monitoring is Bad Monitoring


Much to-do has been made over how to include biodiversity safeguards under a REDD+ regime and ensuring that impacts are monitored. But a new article in the Tropical Conservation Society journal makes a case against developing a standard protocol to monitoring biodiversity in REDD+ projects. Given wide diversity of project settings and conservation goals, “No single monitoring method is likely to be optimal, or even suitable for use, in all REDD+ forests,” write the authors. Instead, they propose an approach tailored to site-specific ecological objectives, appropriate indicators, and local knowledge.


Access the article here.

Introducing the “Grandma Test”

Becca Madsen of Madsen Environmental is on the soapbox at Ecosystem Commons this week asking for examples of effective communication around ecosystem services (ES). When addressing the general public, concepts like ES, environmental valuation, or mitigation can be hard to explain: “I still have a hard time telling my grandma what I do,” Madsen writes. She offers a few examples of good ES communication (including the Nature Conservancy, Restore America’s Estuaries, and Hí¤agan-Dazs) and asks for others.

Jump into the discussion at Ecosystem Commons.

Diversifying Marine Conservation Finance


An initiative in French Polynesia to establish a network of marine management areas (MMA) and their ecosystem services offers a useful model to securing long-term financing. Despite a strong management plan, limited funding was available for implementation. And though tourism is a major economic driver in the area, local NGO PGEM was wary of relying on just one funding mechanism. “We were compelled to explain that sustainable financing of the MMA would only be possible if it relies on diverse mechanisms and economic sectors,” says Mahe Charles, who led a study to identify a range of public and private financing sources, including user fees, taxes, donations, and establishing a regional trust fund.


Learn more at Earth Collective.

France Takes on Bio-Perverse Incentives

The French Centre for Strategic Analysis recently convened an expert group to look at taxes and subsidies detrimental to the country’s biodiversity. Public Incentives That Harm Biodiversity takes a wide-ranging look at inadvertent drivers of biodiversity loss and offers recommendations for reforming subsidies in the land-use planning, transportation, water, agriculture, and industrial sectors. The consultation also highlighted the need for better reporting and assessment, including assigning “the same weight and the same degree of precision to impacts on biodiversity as that accorded to greenhouse gases.” A summary is available in English.

Download the summary (pdf).
Access the full report (in French).



California Regulators Freeze Mitigation Banking Proposal Approvals

Last week the California Department of Fish & Game (DFG) announced that it will not review or approve any new mitigation banking proposals due to budget constraints until further funding is secured. DFG also expects that it will be unable to handle approval of major amendments to existing agreements, though the department says it can sign agreements “close” to approval.

Read more at RMM Environmental Law.

Washington to Protect its Trees with In-Lieu Fees


In Washington, a new bill has been sent to Gov. Chris Gregoire that channels in-lieu fees to state environmental agencies if no other mitigation option exists. Project developers lacking any other avenue for compliance can now make payments to the Department of Natural Resources and the Recreation and Conservation Office to fund conservation easement programs on forest land and in riparian buffer zones. The new change is hoped to generate some much-needed cash for programs that support conservation by small forest landowners. ““This bill has the opportunity to help fund what the state has failed to be able to fund so far,” Washington Farm Forestry Association Executive Director Rick Dunning said.



Read more at the Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle.
Read House Bill 2238.

$250 Million to Offset Levee Projects in New Orleans


The Army Corps of Engineers says that about $250 million will be spent on environmental restoration in the New Orleans area to repair damages from constructing levees. An estimated 2,143 acres of habitat damage must be offset. Bottomland hardwood and swamp projects are already tentatively planned with two private wetland mitigation banks, while the Corps aims to develop another four restoration projects itself. Corps officials are also currently identifying other projects to fund in the Lake Pontchartrain basin and the Barataria basins on the east and west sides of the Missisippi River. Final selection of projects is pending completion of an ongoing public comment process.


Learn more at the Times-Picayune.

Lexington Rolls out Conservation & Mitigation Banking Insurance


Lexington Insurance Company announced last week that it’s introducing insurance coverage for conservation and mitigation banks in the US. LexEcoBank’s can cover losses both before and after a banking instrument is executed; payments under the policy are determined on an agreed value basis. “Investment returns suffer if habitat credit sales are delayed as a result of direct physical loss or damage to the habitat that reduces its ecological value,” says Erik Nikodem, Senior Vice President and Property Division Executive of Lexington. “LexEcoBank was developed to protect both the property and the habitat credits.”


Read a press release.

Mitigation Roundup


Alaska just welcomed one of its first wetland mitigation banks, the Pioneer Mitigation Bank serving part of the Lower Susitna watershed . Credits are being brokered by Mitigation Solutions USA. Meanwhile, just in time for spring we’re hearing about lots of new mitigation banks, including East Bay Farms LLC’s newly-authorized Gulf Coastal Plains Wetland Mitigation Bank and two new projects planned in New Jersey from GreenVest LLC.





Chief of Party (CoP) Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Landscapes Programs in Central America


Winrock International

Winrock is seeking dynamic, highly-qualified Chief of Party (CoP) candidates for various anticipated multi-year USAID-funded Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Landscape regional and country programs in Central America. We anticipate that these programs will strengthen the capacity of target countries in Central America to achieve meaningful and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the forestry-land use sector, and allow these countries to benefit from the emerging international REDD+ framework. These programs will also focus efforts on biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation within the context of a series of interventions targeting key landscapes.


Learn more.

Environmental Conservation Economist


The Nature Conservancy

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.



Webinar: Introduction to Biodiversity Offsetting


In its 2011 White Paper, the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) outlined the government’s vision for the natural environment for the next 50 years. This included a commitment to establish a new voluntary approach to biodiversity offsetting in England, and to test this in a number of pilot areas. This webinar introduces the viewer to biodiversity offsetting, its potential to deliver planning policy requirements for compensation for biodiversity loss, and the pilot projects launching later this year. 27 March 2012. Online


Learn more.

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.

Learn more.

UNU interactive seminar: Assessing biodiversity and ecosystem services


Scientific assessment serves as a structured, focused process designed to connect science with policy, providing information on plausible alternative futures, identifying policy options and contributing to international processes on environment and development. In this seminar, Professors Kazuhiko Takeuchi and Koji Nakamura, co-editors of the recently published UNU Press book Satoyama-Satoumi Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Socio-Ecological Production Landscapes of Japan, will explore the role of assessments in biodiversity and ecosystem services — and in particular, the experiences of the Japan Satoyama Satoumi Assessment (JSSA) and the recent International Science Workshop on Assessments for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). 11 April 2012. Tokyo, Japan.


Learn more.

Second Session of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Plenary Meeting


During the first session of the plenary meeting on IPBES,held from 3 to 7 October 2011 in Nairobi, participants made considerable progress in determining the platform’s modalities and institutional arrangements. It is anticipated that the second session will make decisions on the modalities and institutional arrangements for IPBES and agree on an initial work programme of IPBES. Deadline for registration is 31 January 2012. 16-21 April 2012. Panama City, Panama.


Learn more.

European Biodiversity Summit


The European Biodiversity Summit is the major event within the European Business & Biodiversity Campaign. This 2-day event is the only platform on sustainability & biodiversity in Europe with such a distinct focus on business. It shows with practical examples how business can seize biodiversity opportunities and provides the latest information on biodiversity valuation, new EU regulations and the link to climate change. 17-18 April 2012. Stuttgart, Germany.



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.


Learn more.

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.

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. The deadline for proposals is rapidly approaching (April 6th). 10-12 December 2012. Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA.


Learn more.
Submit a proposal.


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