This Week In Water: Why Are Dead Trees Worth More Than the Living?


In order to maintain ecosystem services, Europe must increase its use of natural infrastructure, a study concluded. In the US, meanwhile, Vermont is considering water quality trading for Lake Champlain. And last week, Forest Trends (publisher of Ecosystem Marketplace) kicked off a six-week fundraising effort spearheaded by the Skoll Foundation.

3 November 2014 | Greetings! Last month, an astounding step was taken in the fight against climate change. More than 400,000 people marched across 40 blocks of New York City as part of the People’s Climate March, four times the number expected by organizers.
The march took place two days before the United Nations’ Climate Summit, during which an unlikely alliance of corporations and governments teamed up with conservationists and indigenous people. Together, these disparate groups vowed to end deforestation by the year 2030, and they offered a clear strategy that helps indigenous people keep forests alive so that forests can keep us alive.

A zero-deforestation commitment is just as critical for global water resources as it is for the climate. Since the late 1990s, Forest Trends has been working to catalyze the development of integrated carbon, water, and biodiversity incentives that deliver real conservation outcomes and benefits to local communities and other stewards of our natural resources. We aim to bring the priceless services that forests provide — meaning just not clean air and climate regulation, but also water purification, storage, and flow regulation — into our modern economy, which until now has put a higher price on dead wood than on living forests.

In Mexico, Forest Trends developed the tools that small farmers in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve are using to earn carbon offsets by planting trees. In Brazil, Forest Trends helped the Surui Indigenous People save endangered rainforest and earn carbon offsets — creating a template for other indigenous people across the Amazon and around the world. Forest Trends then leveraged these lessons to help the Brazilian state of Acre establish a state-wide system of environmental finance that will funnel $2.9 million to indigenous land-use projects this year alone. These projects have been driven by carbon finance but are delivering watershed benefits as well.

Today, you have the chance to become part of this work. Until Dec. 5 every gift to Forest Trends will be matched by the Skoll Foundation. Your gift helps protect forests and other threatened ecosystems and contributes to local livelihoods and conservation.

In the news this month, the private sector is getting new tools for water stewardship, including new corporate water disclosure guidance and a crash course in the ISO 14046 Water Footprint Standard.

Meanwhile EU policy-makers got a heads up that they need to start creating new natural infrastructure to keep pace with what’s being lost if they want to maintain ecosystem services.

In the US, Vermont is looking at water quality trading in the Lake Champlain, while Coca-Cola got brownie points for wetlands conservation in China but bad press in India where groundwater supplies are in bad shape.

Happy reading,

The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

For questions or comments, please contact [email protected]

Forest Trends’ Fundraising Challenge

Forest Trends’ work doesn’t grow on trees – we rely on readers’ generosity to help keep them standing.

Now through December 5, (and for the cost of a typical lunch!),donations to Forest Trends’ Crowdrise campaign could leverage up to $1 million in matching awards through the Skoll Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurship Challenge. Help Forest Trends expand our vital services to communities and experts on the front lines of ecosystem conservation. $10 will go a long way!

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EM Headlines


Fixing Water By Fixing Land: What Works And What Doesn’t

It seems that a lot of money is spent every year on mitigation programs that deliver less than stellar results. According to a 2007 study from the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), nearly $4 billion is spent on land restoration and protection through mitigation annually. This money has obvious potential to contribute to conservation but perhaps lacks the guidance to do so effectively.
To help with this aspect of the problem, The Nature Conservancy and ELI recently published theWatershed Approach Handbook: Improving Outcomes and Increasing Benefits Associated with Wetland and Stream Restoration and Protection Projects. Through on-the-ground pilot projects sponsored by the two organizations, as well as EPA and the Corps, the handbook demonstrates how a watershed approach contributes to flood mitigation, better water quality and quantity and species habitat among other ecosystem services.

Keep reading at Ecosystem Marketplace.

In The News


Building a Better TMDL for Water Quality Trading

A new report from the Willamette Partnership explores how total maximum daily loads in the US (TMDLs – a watershed planning document that essentially sets a ‘cap’ on water pollution) can be more trading-friendly. TMDLs are usually the basis for water quality trading, but often they’re unclear about which nonpoint source polluters are included in load allocations, or geographic areas where trading might be appropriate. Specific language about trading is also not always included. The report offers guidance on how to develop TMDLs that can hit the ground running for pollution reduction.

Read it here (pdf).

Nature versus Nature

Climate scientists say the superstorm that slammed into the US East Coast two years ago was made worse by climate change. As extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy are increasing, governments are struggling to keep up. A recent report by the National Wildlife Federation in collaboration with several other organizations pushes US policymakers to start thinking proactively when it comes to climate change. The report highlights increasing investments in risk reduction measures that use cost-effective nature-based approaches.

Read a press release.

Compensating for Gray with Green in Europe

Development in Europe will have to go green if the continent wants to maintain ecosystem services at their current level. A paper from the Joint Research Centre assessed the effects of land-use change on ecosystem services, estimating that a 1% increase in gray infrastructure needs to be compensated with 2.2% in green infrastructure.The paper’s authors advise substantial increases in investments in green infrastructure.

Learn more here.

Searching for Fair Water Use in Scarce Lands

India struggles with one of the world’s more serious water challenges, as too much groundwater extraction is leaving wells dry. Coca Cola’s found itself in the crossfire, with farmers arguing the beverage giant is overexploiting the aquifers at a bottling plant in Uttar Pradesh state. Recently, Coca Cola was unable to expand on operations because of delays in obtaining water extraction permits. Coca Cola isn’t the only company struggling with India’s water scarcity, nor is it only companies facing this challenge – which means that in facing shared water risks, “shared” should be the operative word, says the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Bloomberg has coverage.

Is Your City Climate Resilient?

Superstorm Sandy and other extreme weather events that caused extensive damage to infrastructure are frequent reminders of the need for resiliency in our infrastructure. A recent report estimates that between 2000 and 2012, natural disasters cost the world $1.7 trillion. This report doesn’t just cite statistics, however, but outlines how cities can increase their resilience focusing on the infrastructure of water, energy and transportation.

Learn more and get a copy of the report.

Is Water Scarcity Pakistan’s Largest Looming Threat?

While there are several risks that threaten Pakistan’s prosperity, perhaps the biggest threat is impending water scarcity. The nation is already one of the world’s most water-stressed places and with a growing population, overexploitation of groundwater and sole reliance on one river system – the degraded Indus River Delta – the situation looks like it could only get worse. A national about-face on water resources management is needed, urges columnist Abdul Majeed Abid writing in The Nation.

Learn more.


Corporate Water Disclosure Guidance Released

The onslaught of water assessment tools developed in the past few years has been helpful for companies but also confusing in terms of what is valuable to disclose. To help with this confusion, the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate developed water disclosure guidelines and recently released a finalized version. The guidance is meant to harmonize reporting approaches initiating a more straightforward process. This way, companies can spend more time on water management and less on counting beans.

Learn more and get a copy of the guidelines here.

Cities, Companies and NGOs find Value in Wetlands

More and more governments are recognizing the array of services wetlands provide and moving to either restore or construct them. In China’s western Sichuan province, for instance, the local government partnered with WWF to build a wetland that purifies wastewater by absorbing nutrients. This project is part of a larger collaboration between WWF and Coca Cola that’s focused on solving environmental problems in the world’s most polluted waterways. In Sichuan, the constructed wetland traps pollutants before they flow into China’s Yangtze River – its longest river and one of its most polluted.

Learn more.

The New Water Footprint Standard, Five Minute Version

Environmental Leader has a mini-crash course in the new ISO 14046 standard (e.g. the water footprint standard), which was recently validated. Standard FAQs – including alignment with other methodologies, data needs, and whether certification is allowed – are all covered.

Read it at Environmental Leader.

Your Burning Questions about the North-South Water Project, Addressed

A lot of questions are surfacing around China’s South-North Water Diversion Project, a project designed to move huge amounts of water from the relatively flush south to the scarce north. Uncertainties around the project’s bill and environmental impact are raising concerns. Scott Moore of the nonprofit Council of Foreign Relations provides background and analysis on this controversial issue.

Read more at the New York Times.

Energy Sector explores Nexus Solutions

Actors in the energy space are coming to understand the interrelated risks they share with other sectors, which is why the World Energy Council is launching an initiative looking for synergies among these sectors that will accelerate the transition to a more resilient economy. The project will be looking primarily at finance, but risks it will address include water stress and the water-energy-food nexus.

Keep reading here.

RFP for a Trading Study in Lake Champlain Basin

Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation have put out a request for proposals for a feasibility study on phosphorus trading in the Lake Champlain Basin. A TMDL under development in the basin is expected to necessitate new control measures for nonpoint source pollution (such as from agriculture). The study would consider specific market mechanisms (like offsets, reverse auctions, exchanges, or bilateral deals), propose a trading framework, and begin building stakeholder support.

Learn more.
View the RFP.

PG&E-USFS Watershed Lands Transfer Begins in California

As part of the settlement agreement for PG&E’s bankruptcy, 151 acres of land in the utility’s Deer Creek watershed was transferred to the Lassen National Forest earlier this month. The Sierra Nevada Conservancy also will hold a conservation convenant on the parcel. It’s the first of a planned 140,000-acre land transfer consisting of more than 1,000 parcels across 21 counties in California.

Read more here.

Minnesotans Want You to Show Them the Money

A city in Minnesota is weighing the benefits against the costs of using green infrastructure, like rain gardens and trees, to filter stormwater before it reaches a waterway. It’s part of a new crediting system created by the state Pollution Control Agency to help determine if the green systems are paying off.

KIMT has coverage.

It’s Sort Of the Wetlands Version of Pinocchio?

When a graduate student in the engineering field in Qatar heard the nation’s biggest – but artificial – wetland was going to be drained, she developed, with the help of a professor, a plan to revamp the artificial wetland maximizing on its abilities to deliver biodiversity and social benefits and contribute to food and water security.

Read more at the Gulf Times.

Fending off Scarcity in Times of Drought – Through Water Rights?

Researches from the University of California Santa Barbara argue the problem to California’s water scarcity isn’t as complex as it may seem. A vibrant water market in the face of drought could alleviate the scarcity, they say. This would mean more water trading with prices higher in dry times and lower during plentiful periods. It would also act as an incentive to conserve water particularly when it’s scarce and the price is high.

Get the story here.


7th National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration and 24th Biennial Meeting of The Coastal Society

Restore America’s Estuaries and The Coastal Society are proud to announce a new collaboration to present the first ever National Summit that will bring together the restoration and coastal management communities for an integrated discussion to explore issues, solutions and lessons learned. Be part of the largest gathering of the coastal restoration and management community in over 10 years! 1-6 November 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.

The Energy-Water-Food Nexus: Risks and Opportunities for the Private Sector

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center is hosting the second in a series of roundtables, The Energy-Water-Food Nexus: Risks and Opportunities for the Private Sector. The roundtables pinpoint the nexus risks to businesses, and examine why and how leadership from the private sector, in collaboration with key stakeholders, is critical to successfully manage the synergies and tradeoffs among water, food, and energy infrastructure for the benefit of society, business, and the environment. In partnership with Lockheed Martin, this roundtable will contrast nexus realities in specific U.S. geographies — the Western Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, and the Gulf of Mexico. This includes a discussion of cutting edge research, how data and science can drive collective action, and how nexus-based approaches can inform regional and emerging national energy and water policy processes. The event is free and open to the public. 11 December 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.

ACES 2014 Conference: Linking Science, Practice, and Decision Making

ACES: A Community on Ecosystem Services represents a dynamic and growing assembly of professionals, researchers, and policy makers involved with ecosystem services. The ACES 2014 Conference brings together this community in partnership with Ecosystem Markets and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP), providing an open forum to share experiences, methods, and tools, for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference is to link science, practice, and sustainable decision making by bringing together the ecosystem services community from around the United States and the globe. ACES 2014 will bring together leaders in government, NGOs, academia, Native American communities, and the private sector to advance the use of ecosystem services science and practice in conservation, restoration, resource management, and development decisions. We hope you will make plans to join more than 500 ecosystem service stakeholders in this collaborative discussion to advance use of an ecosystem services framework for natural resource management and policy. 8-11 December 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.

Nexus 2015: Water, Food, Climate and Energy Conference

The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and collaborators are hosting the Nexus 2015: Water, Food, Climate and Energy Conference on March 15-17 in Chapel Hill, NC, USA. The Conference brings together scientists and practitioners working in government, civil society and business, and other stakeholders to focus on how and why the nexus approach can be used on local and international levels. Submission deadline for abstracts is October 31. 15-17 March, 2015. Chapel Hill NC, USA.

Learn more here.



Program Director

Dogwood Alliance Asheville NC, USA

Dogwood Alliance is increasing protection for millions of acres of Southern forests by transforming the way corporations, landowners and communities value them for their climate, wildlife and water benefits. Dogwood Alliance has revolutionized the environmental practices of some of the world’s largest corporations. The Director of Programs will be responsible for the operational success of Dogwood Alliance’s programs, ensuring seamless team management, development, program delivery and quality control and evaluation. In this newly established role, the Director of Programs will manage a growing staff. The Director of Programs will be a key external face of Dogwood Alliance in the community. The Program Director oversees the coordination and administration of all aspects of ongoing programs, including planning, organizing, staffing, leading and controlling program activities.

Learn more here.

CONTRIBUTING TO ECOSYSTEM MARKETPLACEEcosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)(3).The non-profit evaluator Charity Navigator has given Forest Trends its highest rating (4 out of 4 stars) recognizing excellence in our financial management and organizational efficiency.

Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)(3).The non-profit evaluator Charity Navigator has given Forest Trends its highest rating (4 out of 4 stars) recognizing excellence in our financial management and organizational efficiency.

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