This Week In Biodiversity: Biodiversity Goes Big

In this week’s MitMail, TEEB comes to China in an attempt to better understand environmental values and impacts and Houston receives a Texas-sized stream bank that will help manage stormwater issues. Meanwhile, mangroves (might) save the world.

In this week’s MitMail, TEEB comes to China in an attempt to better understand environmental values and impacts and Houston receives a Texas-sized stream bank that will help manage stormwater issues. Meanwhile, mangroves (might) save the world.

This article was originally published in the MitMail newsletter. Click here to read the original.

13 August 2012 | Normally August can be a slow news month, but it looks like people in the biodiversity and wetland financing fields aren’t taking much of a vacation this year. This month’s MitMail brings you news of action all over the world: from China undertaking a national TEEB-style ecosystem valuation, to biodiversity offsets programs in the works in England, to the latest in candidate species banking developments in the US.

It’s been just as busy here at Ecosystem Marketplace –
we’re back from last week’s Ecosystem Services Partnership conference in Portland, Oregon, and the water team is diving into research for our upcoming State of Watershed Payments 2012 report.

We wanted to draw your attention to the report, which will track the size, scope, and direction of payments for watershed services, source water protection initiatives, and water quality trading programs around the world – because we need your help. Our water team has developed a survey to collect data from project developers on project design and outcomes. We also would be grateful if you would share it with anyone in your network whom you think should be included in State of Watershed Payments 2012.

You can access the survey here.

Happy reading!

 —The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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

EM Exclusives

Why Saving Marshes Might Save Civilization


Coastal marine environments like seagrass meadows, salt marshes and mangroves (known collectively as “blue carbon”) are just beginning to attract attention for all the free services they provide to humanity, most notably a seemingly supernatural capacity to remove carbon from the atmosphere.


“Imagine what it would cost to construct a carbon sink to absorb all the emissions from the planet’s entire transportation fleet,” says Sierra Club of B.C. science advisor Colin Campbell. “You would be aghast at what that would cost right? But we already have it, with our blue carbon habitats, and all we have to do is stop wrecking them to make shrimp farms, marinas and boat ramps.”


Keep reading at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Should Israel Embrace Biodiversity Financing Programs?


Israel’s biodiversity is under threat from a list of sources that include urbanization, water scarcity and habitat loss. To beat this threat, a group of scientists, government officials, market experts and others are examining biodiversity financing programs from around the world to implement in Israel that will improve conservation. The Milken Institute, in conjunction with Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, convened a Financial Innovations Lab ® to evaluate potential incentive programs and other financial mechanisms that could be used to appropriately value the nation’s biodiversity.


Learn more.

The Rise of Candidate Species: Good News For Conservation Banking?


We all know what “Endangered Species” are. Within the United States, however, “Candidate Species” like the Dune Sagebrush Lizard have been quietly taking up the spotlight.


These are species that have been short-listed for endangered status, and they moved to center stage last September after a settlement between FWS and two environmental non-profits – the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Wild Earth Guardians (WEG) – forced them onto the regulatory stage before they enter the danger zone. In so doing, the settlement provides a clear incentive for land-intense businesses to proactively – and voluntarily – take steps to protect valuable habitat. It may also provide a golden opportunity for conservation bankers and the environment.


Get the full story.

London Meeting Aims To Move Natural Capital Declaration From Words To Deeds


The Natural Capital Declaration aims to push environmental risks and rewards onto corporate balance sheets in an effort to promote responsible stewardship of natural resources. It has the backing of 39 financial institutions, and many of them met last month in London to explore ways of turning the declaration into deeds.


The Declaration itself is a fairly straightforward two-page statement calling on governments to recognize environmental degradation as a business risk and committing signatories to take natural capital into account when making their investment decisions. The roadmap reviewed at the London meeting is a more substantial 30-page document that summarizes the literature to date and offers more detail on how companies can begin accounting for natural capital.


Keep reading at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Forests Are Left Out Of Rio’s Final Outcomes Doc


The Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development pledged a renewed focus on sustainability challenges. By using a holistic framework that addresses economic, social and environment aspects of sustainability, it hoped to rekindle the essence of sustainable development that was a key part of the success of the 1992 Earth Summit.


But you wouldn’t know that from The Future We Want, the final outcomes document from the global summit. You only need to look at the coverage of forests, writes Sarah Golden for the REDD-Net blog, to see that Rio+20 fell short of finding a way to talk about the complexities of ecosystems and shift how the natural world is valued.


Keep reading at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Coverage of the Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference

Practitioners, policy-makers, researchers, and educators in the ecosystem services field arrived from all over the world (47 countries if you’re counting) in Portland, Oregon last week for the 5th Annual Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference. Ecosystem Marketplace was there blogging the conference – you can read our coverage here .

Read posts at Eko-Eco.

Mitigation News

A Business Opportunity Cheat Sheet


A new report out from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) aims to show the private sector exactly how to turn ecosystem valuation and protection into business gold. The report identifies the twelve most promising business opportunities from an initial list of 40 possibilities, ranging from financial and legal services to environmental products and technologies. An annex includes 40 short sample business proposals, fifteen of which are elaborated in more detail in another attachment. The report, based on a review of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, is the first product from the Ecosystem Markets Task Force’s evidence gathering efforts – expect more resources on business and ecosystem services from them soon.


If you’re interested in reading more about what leaders in the field think about business and biodiversity, take a look at the Business Meets Biodiversity conference website, which now has copies of all conference presentations available for download, including address on trends in business and biodiversity from Forest Trends’ own Kerry ten Kate, Director of the Business & Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP). The conference covered emerging issues in agriculture, “big brands,” and finance, and the presentations are excellent resources.


Learn more and download the Defra report/attachments here.

Slow Clap: Wetland Mitigation Industry Has a 98% Success Rate


A recent study published in the National Wetlands Newsletter takes a new approach to evaluating the mitigation industry: by whether it’s meeting its regulatory standards. “Mitigation is ultimately a regulatory construct, driven by the ecological standards set forth by the enabling agreement between the regulatory agency and the mitigation provider,” write authors Craig Denisoff and David Urban. “It seems that the fairest question one can ask about mitigation, then, is how much mitigation is meeting the regulatory standards required of it.”


Using data from the US Army Corps of Engineers’ RIBITS database, the authors find that approved wetland mitigation banks are meeting or exceeding performance standards 98.3 percent of the time. Of course, often performance standards themselves could be improved to better target habitat functions and regional priorities, and there is much room for improvement in reporting and transparency in the sector. But, as Denisoff and Urban note, strong evidence of success found in the study suggests that “the focus should hence move from ‘does it work’ to ‘how to make it better.”


Read the full article here.

TEEB Comes to Beijing


It looks like China may join India, Brazil,and Georgia in embracing a national-scale study of ecosystem and biodiversity values, based on the TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) approach. “There has been some research in China on TEEB, and we do need comprehensive and systematic exchange with other experts to develop the evaluation system of biodiversity and ecosystems in China,” said Bai Chengshou of China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection at a high-level forum on China-Africa cooperation last month. A better understanding of environmental values and impacts is perhaps especially critical in China, which has experienced double-digit economic growth in recent years but also increasingly widespread natural resource degradation.


Learn more.

Making Offsets Work in England


A recent article by the Environment Bank’s Tom Tew provides an update on the six biodiversity offset pilots backed by Defra, ongoing offset policy challenges, and progress at a pilot site in Essex, which began work in April of this year. The Essex project is currently carrying out site selection, including considering restoring and creating wetlands at quarry sites. An online national credit registry for the pilots was established earlier this year. There are still a number of issues to work out according to Tew, including whether offsetting will remain voluntary or a regulatory framework is viable, refining metrics, and dealing with a lack of clearly enforceable ‘conservation covenants’ that can guarantee conservation in perpetuity.


Read the article.

Everything’s Bigger in Texas

The USA’s largest stream bank to date was recently permitted serving the Houston, TX area. The Katy Prairie Stream Mitigation Bank, developed by Restoration Systems, will rehabilitate 20 miles of prairie creeks on the Warren Ranch in Harris county, which also is home to significant tallgrass prairie and wetland habitats. The bank expects to find plenty of business as Houston continues to grow, and to play an important role in managing stormwater issues for the metro area. Credits have been priced at between $215 and $500 depending on purchase volume.

Read a press release.

Mangroves 1, Heavy Metals Contaminants 0


One more reason to worry about the rapid rate of mangroves destruction around the world: Mangroves can act as a ‘sink’, filtering out heavy metals, according to a study in New Caledonia by French and New Caldonian researchers. The study found that as mangroves disappear, negative impacts to biodiversity and water supplies from mining in the area become more severe. The researchers also caution that mangroves don’t trap metals well during cyclonic events, but rather only during normal rainfall, though the former are expected to increase in frequency with climate change.


Read on at SciDev.

Cost-Benefit Analysis for Ecosystem Restoration


TEEB@Yale recently posted a video of a lecture by Thomas Elmqvist of Stockholm University’s Stockholm Resilience Centre on cost-benefit analysis (CBA) for ecosystem restoration. Elmqvist speaks about both some of the trickier details in conducting a good CBA – How do you best assess trade-offs? What assumptions can you make about discount rates? – and also situates the CBA tool within a global context of population growth, urbanization, climate change, and their attendant pressures on ecological processes. The video runs 49 minutes.



Watch the lecture here.



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.

Strategic Planning Approaches to Improve Biodiversity Conservation


Balancing biodiversity conservation outcomes with social and economic priorities is a complex and challenging task. Strategic Planning Approaches to Improve Biodiversity Conservation will bring together the key players currently developing strategic and landscape scale approaches to protect biodiversity and streamline development assessments to support urban and regional growth. 14-15 November 2012. Sydney, Australia.


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.



Technical Advisor, Ecology (Biodiversity Offsets), Terrestrial Ecosystems Unit


New Zealand Department of Conservation – Wellington/Hamilton/Christchurch, New Zealand

The Technical Advisor, Ecology (Biodiversity Offsets) is a new position that will be based in either the Wellington, Hamilton or Christchurch office of the Department. We have identified a need to effectively communicate best practice in biodiversity offsetting and provide technical support to the ongoing development of science and best practice supporting biodiversity offsets. The successful candidate will be able to translate scientific knowledge into practical management actions, have the ability to engage and communicate effectively with a wide variety of stakeholders and staff, and to lead or participate in the development of ecological advice underpinning credible biodiversity offsetting in New Zealand.


Learn more.

Forest Analyst


Ecotrust Forest Management, Inc. – Portland, Oregon USA

Ecotrust Forest Management (EFM) is seeking a forest analyst to provide all analytical and modeling support for current and future timberland under management. EFM currently manages 13,000 acres along the Washington and Oregon coasts and expects to add approximately 15,000–25,000 acres over the next several years. The forest analyst will be expected to manage timber inventory, perform acquisition due diligence, coordinate property valuations, and support forest management planning within the context of EFM management that will include alternative silviculture, carbon offsets, conservation easements, and other non-timber income sources. The forest analyst will also advance the development of tools and systems that support these processes.


Learn more.

Communications Intern, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)



UNEP Economics and Trade Branch (ETB) – Geneva, Switzerland

The TEEB initiative is now entering a new phase of implementation (phase III) focused on facilitating TEEB national and sectoral studies; expanding the TEEB network of experts; and expanding TEEB communications and outreach. As part of TEEB’s extended communications and outreach, TEEB would like to keep abreast of all the information and studies that are being produced that are TEEB related. Keeping a close track of this rapidly expanding literature as well as ensuring that this knowledge is made available in a timely and convenient manner to the TEEB network through online and social media is an essential part of the TEEB communications strategy. The purpose of this internship is to assist the 2 TEEB team in the continued delivery and strengthening of online news and communication functions.



Learn more.

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