US Fish & Wildlife Service Unveils Five-Year Plan for Shrinking Its Listing Backlog
As part of a settlement agreement with WildEarth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity in May 2011, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) agreed to address its massive backlog of species and habitats still waiting for listing determinations. In February, a big step was taken: FWS released a five-year workplan covering planned actions on 455 different species. It’s a big deal for environmentalists, developers and industry, and everyone in between, in that it provides not just a list of species slated for listing consideration but a timeline for FWS’s doing so.
As Lowell Rothschild of Bracewell & Giuliani writes at the Bracewell Blog, “Those of you familiar with the listing process are used to a high percentage of FWS species determinations resulting in a finding that the species is ineligible for listing. This list will produce very different results, since most of the species have previously been identified by FWS as eligible for listing and were only not listed previously because FWS didn’t have the resources to do so. The regulated community should expect to see most of the species on the FWS workplan listed and critical habitat for the species designated.”
– Keep reading at the Bracewell Blog.
– View the workplan (pdf).
– View a sortable Excel spreadsheet of the workplan.
In Zambia, Adding Incentives to the Biodiversity-Friendly Agriculture Mix
A new post at the Landscapes Blog looks at efforts by Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO), an initiative backed by the Wildlife Conservation Society and local partners, to promote sustainable agriculture in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley. Land-use change, agricultural practices, poaching and charcoal making were having disastrous impacts on local ecosystems. COMACO opted to blend incentive-based mechanisms, including eco-labeling and a “conservation dividend” rewarding sustainable behavior with cash, seeds, and farm inputs, with non-market supports like technical assistance and promoting local economic development through the creation of trading depots across the valley.
That approach is working. Not just for farmers – who are seeing household incomes grow while food security has increased by 30% in less than a decade – but for wildlife as well: elephant and wildebeest populations have both increased by more than 50% in recent years compared to a comparable period a decade ago.
– Read the post.
Clearing Up Offset Confusion
When it comes to biodiversity offsets, it’s easy to get into the weeds pretty quickly. A new report released by IUCN and the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and authored by the Biodiversity Consultancy aims to provide a clear overview of key principles, methods, and issues for biodiversity offsets today. The report has an eye to the business audience – particularly the mining sector – and many of its recommendations concern lowering risks for the private sector. On IUCN & ICMM’s wish list? Encouraging experimentation via voluntary offset models, compiling more case studies, consider using offsets in legally protected areas, and developing a simple “how-to” guide for the mining industry are all mentioned as key next steps.
– Read a press release.
– Read the report (pdf).
New Bank Review System in California is Open For Business
Long-time readers will be familiar with the piece of California legislation SB1148. After budget cuts forced officials to put the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife’s mitigation bank review process on hold, SB1148, which was signed into law last September, authorized the Department to adjust fees to fully cover the costs of review and approval of banking applications.
That system is now active. Mitigation bankers are looking at $35,000 in fees for the review of the prospectus and banking agreement, and another $60,000 in fees once credits are released for sale. In return, the Department promises applicants a streamlined, transparent process – a portion of fees will fund a database of banks. With 95 banks already waiting in the queue, the new system will have ample chance to prove itself.
– Read more at WRA News.
Mining for Biodiversity Opportunities
Heidelberg Cement has set itself ambitious targets on biodiversity: by 2020, restoration plans for 100% of active quarries and Biodiversity Management plans for half of sites in the cement business line. The company has partnered with Birdlife International to identify priorities for biodiversity conservation and better understand interactions between Heidelberg Cement mining sites and the surround landscape.
The two released a proximity study in late February suggesting that many of the company’s quarry sites are good candidates for biodiversity conservation. 425 sites received ‘biodiversity interaction’ scores and evaluations of the opportunity for meaningful conservation action. Ten countries were identified as priorities based on highest coincidence of quarry sites with biodiversity values – Germany, the UK, and the Czech Republic were the top three.
– Read more here.
Three Years of Ecosystem Services Policy Worldwide in One Handy Document
In tracking uptake of the concept of ecosystem services, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish between the noise and real action. A new report from BSR attempts to comprehensively track ecosystem services-based policy and regulation around the world. Global Public Sector Trends in Ecosystem Services tracks policy trends around the world, ranging from natural capital valuation to environmental markets promotion to public funding for research. The US, UK, China, Colombia, Costa Rica and Brazil are leading the charge as far as sheer activity. Private-sector engagement (for now) remains limited, the report notes, though initiatives like the Natural Capital Declaration and the UK’s Ecosystem Markets Task Force offer intriguing examples of public-private teamwork.
– Read more at Environmental Leader.
– Download the report (pdf).
No Benefits Like Co-Benefits
A 251-hectare bushland rehabilitation project in southwest Australia carried out by nonprofit consultancy Carbon Neutral is posting big improvements in local biodiversity, according to recent assessments. The Pinjalup Biodiversity Planting has in three years been transformed from marginal farmland to restored bushland, boasting survival rates for native plantings quadruple project targets and promoting connectivity between key nature corridors in the region – not to mention the carbon benefits. The site will now be resold, with proceeds funding additional Carbon Neutral projects.
– Read a press release.
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. 7-10 May 2013. New Orleans, LA, USA.
– Learn more here.
5th National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (NCER)
Join us at NCER ’13 for four days of presentations in multiple program tracks, workshops, plenary sessions, poster sessions, field trips and coffee-house discussions dedicated to current topics in ecosystem restoration. We’ll explore the roles of policy, planning, science and management in establishing goals and performance expectations for achieving successful and sustainable ecosystem restoration. 29 July – 2 August, 2013. Greater Chicago, IL, USA.
– Learn more here.
3rd International Marine Protected Areas Congress
IMPAC 3 is a high-quality and professionally coordinated international congress which:
- allows managers and practitioners of marine protected areas to exchange ideas and learn
- from each other;
- defines recommendations to orient relevant global, regional and national policy processes;
- assists in the establishment and ongoing implementation of a global, lasting, ecologically
- representative and effectively managed network of MPAs, in coherence with the sustainable
- development of coastal and maritime activities;
- strives to inform, involve and influence all stakeholders at different stages.
You can begin submitting abstracts from the day the website opens, March 15, 2013. Submissions close on May 10. 21-27 October 2013. Marseille and Corsica, France.
– Learn more here.