This Week in Mitigation Mail: Tigers and More

While UNFCCC COP16 has taken the spotlight this month, we have not forgottent the biodiversity market.  Domestic news includes a recent change in the way the USACE is documenting decisions.  International news includes the first global tiger conservation conference, held in St. Petersburg.  Here is the latest from the world of biodiversity markets.

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 every two weeks by clicking here.

9 December 2010 | There has been a significant decrease in biodiversity markets news as the ripples of the CBD COP10 in Nagoya have diminished and the Big Brother UNFCCC COP16 has taken center stage in Cancun, Mexico. Our main site on Ecosystem Marketplace is providing in-depth coverage from the field, while V-Carbon News and Forest Carbon News Briefs are covering the voluntary carbon and forest carbon and REDD+ angles.

The biggest news this month came from the first global tiger conservation conference, which drew attention – and $330 million in pledged funding – to the plight of great cats.

On the domestic front, the NMBA quietly noted in their Winter newsletter that the US ACE has recently instructed District staff to document reasons why mitigation banks are not being used when they are available. This has been a bone of contention for the US mitigation banking industry – while 2008 regulations stated a preference for mitigation banking, it did not appear to be translating to regulators directing permittees to banks.

Finally, over in the Southwest US, folks identifying with ‘ecosystem services’ are geeking out at the annual ACES conference (A Community of Ecosystem Services). If you’re attending, please say hello at the Ecosystem Marketplace booth.

Read on for the latest and greatest news on biodiversity markets.

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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


New Methodology Sets Building Blocks for REDD

As formal negotiations regarding the role of forest conservation to fight climate change occur behind closed doors, another major milestone is announced in the voluntary forest carbon market. After more than two years of development, a broad new REDD methodology has finally cleared the second validation needed for acceptance under the Voluntary Carbon Standard.

Read the story here

Cancun: The Allure – and Elusiveness – of Mangroves as Carbon Sinks

The city of Cancun chopped down millennia-old mangroves to build glittering resorts along the coast. The resorts bring in billions, but the cost is high: not only do barren shores erode more quickly, but fisheries and coral reefs suffer when mangroves disappear. Two side events at climate talks in Cancun tomorrow examine the economic value of mangrove forests.

Read more here

Biodiversity Values in Cancun Wings, But How to Measure Them?

UN negotiators will be focusing part of their attention on the economic value of forests next week and the week after at year-end climate talks in Cancun, Mexico. Most of that attention will focus on the value of carbon stored in trees, but increasingly more attention is being paid to biodiversity values and man’s impact on them, both of which are the focus of a new book.

Read more here

Green Gold: How Carbon Finance can Help Mongolian Herders

Mongolia’s GDP is set to surge as mining interest move into the country in a big way, but its agriculture sector is suffering in the wake of unsustainable practices that use up topsoil and contribute to climate change. One program aims harness the carbon markets – and the mines – to promote sustainable herding and reduce carbon emissions.

Read the story here

Mitigation News

REDD Not Necessarily Good for Biodiversity

With the COP10 Cancun climate summit underway, a lot of attendees are hopeful that REDD will make at least some progress. And while biodiversity had its day at the CBD COP10 in Nagoya, it is popping up again in Cancun. A recent report from Gary Paoli of Daemeter Consulting in Indonesia has found that REDD projects, which have the potential to preserve biodiversity and reduce carbon emissions, may not end up being that beneficial for biodiversity after all. The report points out that the peat swamp forests of Indonesia may be carbon rich, but are home to low concentrations of biodiversity. On the other hand, the lowland forests of Indonesia have high amounts of biodiversity, but don’t sequester much carbon. It also doesn’t help that peat swamp forests are home to high-profile species such as orangutans and tigers, whereas lowland forests are home to relatively uncharismatic plants, mammals and birds. Guess which receives more funding?

Read more here

$330M Pledged at World’s First Tiger Summit

Despite donor pledges of more than $330 million for tiger conservation, the world’s first tiger summit concluded last week with some significant doubts on specifics. Russian president Vladimir Putin and World Bank chief Robert Zoellick garnered celebrity and financial support towards the goal of doubling the number of tigers in the wild by 2022. Leaders of the event in St. Petersburg, Russia backed the Global Tiger Recovery Programme, which acts to improve reserves, halt poachers, and implement financial incentives to increase tiger populations. The endorsement of the Global Tiger Recovery Programme is an important step forward but concerns remain regarding the coordination of spending and financing concrete action. Debbie Banks, the head of the Environmental Investigation Agency, perhaps summed it up best by saying, “It’ll be what happens when leaders go home that makes a difference. Will they engage the public? Will they call a meeting of police and customs to say wildlife is a priority and personnel will be assigned to it? That will show that they have not just come here and read a statement, but that they really want to move away from business as usual.” The summit could not reach consensus on a new multi-donor funding mechanism under the World Bank but there will be four more meetings next year to further coordinate spending efforts.

Read about saving the tigers here

Pacific Getting Ready to Meet New Biodiversity Targets

At the recent 10th Conference of the Parties on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP10), 14 Pacific countries dubbed the “Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)” worked to develop a plan towards reducing biodiversity loss in the Pacific region. The “Aichi Target” plan that was adopted aims to halve the loss of natural habitats and to protect 17% of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10% of marine areas. David Sheppard, the Director of SPREP, claims that


“The targets are within our reach as the Pacific region has worked diligently to protect our unique biodiversity. We can boast the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) in Kiribati – the largest marine protected area on earth – now a World Heritage Site. In our Pacific region we also have the Micronesia Challenge, a commitment by the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Guam and the Northern Marianas to conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020. The “Aichi Target” will help us strengthen our conservation work across the Pacific.”

Read the story here

European Commission Allocates €2M to Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency in the Baltic Sea Region​

The European Commission is implementing an action program to support environmental protection and energy efficiency activities in the Russian and Belarusian part of the Baltic Sea Region. The initiative represents an opportunity to strengthen EU-Russian bilateral cooperation. The €20 million action program will occur under the Northern Dimension Policy, a policy established in 1999 between Norway, Iceland, EU Member States, and the Russian Federation to provide a common framework for dialogue, economic integration, competitiveness, and sustainable development in Northern Europe. While it remains to be seen what specific activities and benefits will result from the amendment it is designed as a step towards greater regional prosperity and cooperation.

Read more here

International Satoyama Initiative for Conserving Traditional Landscapes

The Satoyama Initiative has been recently established by Japan’s Ministry of Environment and the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) as an effort to promote traditional land conservation around the world through the vision of “sustainable rural societies in harmony with nature.” Human management of landscapes between villages (sato) and the mountains (yama) have led to rich biodiversity throughout the centuries in Japan. These landscapes have dual use and services such as paddy fields and ditches for not only irrigation and farming but also wildlife wetland habitats. As a result of a rapidly dwindling agricultural workforce over the decades, the initiative aims to investigate rural areas threatened by either overuse or neglect and find ways to revitalize them. Case studies from Malaysia, Peru, Kenya, Australia, Spain, and the United States all highlight similar scenarios.


Kyotango City in the Kyoto Prefecture represents the potential that the project can achieve not just for Japan but also globally. A new biogas power plant in 2007 and a forest dairy farming scheme have led to a revamped local economy and a byproduct of the biogas plant is being used as a liquid fertilizer, replacing chemical sprays. The initiative is one clear example of a concrete program in line with the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) fundamental principles.

Read about the Satoyama Initiative here

Palm Oil Aims to Mend its Environmental Reputation, but Issues Remain

Palm oil is a cash crop with a wide array of uses for both food and fuel. The product is controversial, though, for its reputation of clearing natural rainforests that are a sink for greenhouse gases and house abundant biodiversity. The United International Enterprises Estate in the Majung District of Malaysia was the first plantation to be certified under the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and it sets aside land for rainforest regeneration amongst other sustainable activities and practices. But despite taking these measures, a myriad of issues remain. One of the issues is assessing the balance between impacts and offsets and ensuring that significant offsetting is occurring. Other issues related to the sustainability of palm oil include: governance, regulation, monitoring and enforcement, financial incentives, etc.

Read more here

Bulgaria Ignores Biodiversity Impact of Wind Farms on Natura 2000 Sites

EU Habitat and Birds Directives establish Natura 2000 protected sites, with impacts in these areas strictly regulated. Development may proceed in these areas, but only with like-for-like compensation for loss. Bulgaria, however, is thumbing its nose at this regulation and has allowed wind farms within Natura 2000 sites without compensation. The EC has launched an infringement procedure regarding the “construction of a dozen wind generators in the Kaliakra zone without the necessary ecological assessments.” Bulgaria’s government promises to ‘make good’ by adding to their conservation network or implementing other measures, although it’s not clear what these would be and whether they would satisfy ‘like-for-like’ compensation. Nikolay Nedyalkov, with the Environment Ministry’s Natura 2000 department, noted that the area might be deemed a ‘risk area’, which would deter future green power projects in the bird migration corridor.

Read more here

Paying for Southern Forests – a Report on Alternative Income Streams

The World Resource Institute’s (WRI) Southern Forests for the Future project has released a report promoting a “payment for ecosystem services” model as a way to fight deforestation caused by suburban development in the south eastern United States. According to the report 200 acres of forests are lost every day in South Carolina, with a projected loss of 1.3 million acres by 2020. Owners of forested land currently receive income only from logging or selling land to developers. While conservation tax credits, wetland mitigation banks and the state conservation bank exist to give monetary incentives for conservation, the WRI wants to investigate new income sources, including downstream users paying for watershed protection. Those studies are part of the second phase of the study, which is to be released in March 2011.

Read the story here


Corps of Engineers Agrees to Document Reasons for Not Choosing Mitigation Banks

Hat tip to the NMBA Winter 2010 Newsletter for this story…

“In late October, the Corps instructed each District to carefully document the selection of mitigation when considering permitting decisions. The documentation includes an explanation of whether there are mitigation banks with available credits, and why mitigation other than such banks is selected. [This documentation relates to] compliance with the preference for mitigation banks in the 2008 Mitigation Regulations.”

Read article in the NMBA newsletter
Read the US ACE Memo to Districts ]

Criticism of Obama Administration’s Progress on Endangered Species Candidates

The Obama administration is receiving increasing criticism from environmental groups regarding a backlog of plants and animal species for the Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Service claims there are 251 species up for endangered species protection. Only 51 species have been brought under Endangered Species Act protection under the 2 years of the Obama administration, an average of 25 a year, compared to 65 a year under Clinton and 8 a year under the Bush administration. Formal protection is important to raise awareness among private landowners and federal land managers but the massive amount of delays for offering species protection is having real consequences. More than 24 species have already become extinct after originally being listed as viable candidates for protection. Despite the setbacks and dwindling capacity seen under the Bush Administration, Tom Strickland, Assistant Interior Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s Chief of Staff, says the Obama administration is taking steps to “restore credibility” to the endangered species program. Despite the criticism amidst steps being taken by the administration, it goes to show how much of a regulatory challenge the Endangered Species Act truly is.

Read more here

New Coho Salmon Conservation Bank in Sonoma County, CA

Hat tip to the NMBA Winter 2010 Newsletter for this story…

The National Marine Fisheries Service recently approved Phase I of this bank, which consists of 144 acres of fish habitat conservation credits for coho salmon and steelhead trout. The bank, owned by McCollum & Sweetwater and managed by the Wildlife Heritage Foundation, is located along the Russian River near Healdsburg in Sonoma County. The location is designated as a “core recovery area.” CA Departmet of Fish and Game released 5,000 juvenile coho salmon into the bank. Restoration is on-going and Phase II will contain another 296 acres.

Read the local news article here

Watch the local news video here

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