Markets for the Environment

This report, actually a series of 5 papers, first examines why market mechanisms are being widely proposed by policy makers to address environmental issues, gives some background on their history, and speculates on their future. The other papers provide an overview of what is really happening "on the ground," discussing how well the promise of these new markets has been met in reality. In Lessons Learned from SO2 Allowance Trading, Robert Stavins gives an update and assessment of the SO2 trading program. In The Evolving Western Water Markets, Richard Howitt and Kristiana Hansen analyze the evolving water markets in the western U.S. In The Future of Wetlands Mitigation Banking, Leonard Shabman and Paul Scodari look at the wetlands mitigation banking program. In Crunch Time for Water Quality Trading, Dennis King evaluates the state and potential for water quality trading.

Costing Mother Nature

The central role of healthy ecosystems in providing critical services has been, until very recently, overlooked and often taken for granted. This article describes how Australia is leading the world in assessing and valuing ecosystems' 'free' services.

Mongolia's Monks Take Up New Cause: Saving Giant Salmon

Along the Uur river, Mongolia — Here in the glacial-blue waters of this wild and remote river, the elusive Siberian salmon, known as the taimen, is in danger of vanishing forever. Scientists and American sport fishermen working to save the taimen have drafted an unlikely ally: a 26-year-old Buddhist monk who wears a mustard-colored robe and uses a single name, Gantulga. Their plan calls for Gantulga and his fellow monks to use their moral authority to persuade the locals to stamp out poaching and habitat destruction. The wealthy fly fishermen must do their part by pumping money into the local economy. The hope: These disparate partners can persuade Mongolians to protect their wildlife.

Estimation of the Economic Value of the Pest Control Service Provided by the Brazilian Free-tailed Bat in the Winter Garden Region of South-Central Texas

Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) form enormous breeding colonies each summer in large caves in south-central Texas and northern Mexico. Prey of these bats includes several species of adult insects whose larvae are known to be important agricultural pests, including the corn earworm or bollworm (Helicoverpa zea). Authors estimate the value of the bats in controlling this pest in cotton production for an eight county region in south central Texas. and estimate the avoided damage at $741,000 per year, with a range of $121,000 to $1,725,000, compared to a $6 million per year annual cotton harvest.

Farmland Protection Spending Holds Steady Despite Budget Shortfalls

Although many areas of the country experienced budget shortfalls last year, states and communities continued to spend steadily to protect farmland through Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement (PACE) programs. PACE programs compensate farmers and ranchers for the development value of their land, while permanently protecting the land for agriculture.

Still majestic, still imperiled

Members of the Bay Ridge community south of Annapolis, MD gather to toast a remarkable tree preservation effort that has spanned 15 years – the preservation of the area’s magnificent mature forests – 150 acres that were faced with imminent development – residents raised $4 million.

Nature Conservancy, Open Space Institute, and Adirondack Council Applaud Senators Clinton and Schumer for Senate Forest Legacy $2.5 Million for Tahawus

The Open Space Institute, The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Council applaud U.S. Senators Hilary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer for working with Congressman John McHugh to secure, within the Senate United States Forest Service Federal Forest Legacy FY’O5 budget appropriation bill, $2.5 million to help the State of New York and the Open Space Institute protect the fabled 10,000-acre Tahawus Tract in the Adirondacks.

Welcome Boost For CRP: USDA’s Most Important Conservation Program Gets New Support

President Bush announced important new support for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) on August 4, 2004. Of the numerous conservation programs administered by the USDA, the 20-year-old CRP is the biggest and generates the greatest benefits for farmers and ranchers, fish and wildlife, and hunters and anglers. Growing and strengthening CRP is a top consensus priority of the sporting community.

Field assessments in western Kenya link malaria vectors to environmentally disturbed habitats during the dry season

This article reports on the ecological and socioeconomic factors contributing to a malaria epidemic in western Kenya. Investigations showed that brick-making pits were a primary habitat for Anopheles mosquito larvae. By contrast, vegetation and older habitats, including abandoned brick-making pits, had higher levels of predator diversity and lower mosquito density. Further research showed that houses close to brick-making sites had malaria vectors, whereas those next to swamps did not. The authors conclude that brick-making generates dry season habitats for malaria vectors, facilitating the spread of malaria when habitats become more plentiful in the wet season. The link between increased biodiversity and lower mosquito density is highlighted. The authors argue that functional brick-making pits are kept at a low stage of biological succession, with fewer species of plants and animals, including vital predators.

Landmark Conservation Bill Introduced In Senate ‘Americans Outdoors Act’ Provides Needed Conservation Funding

A bill with potentially historic significance for the future management of public lands and fish and wildlife was introduced in the U.S. Senate on June 24, 2004 by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN). The Americans Outdoors Act provides funding that will help ensure that the fish and wildlife management, habitat conservation, and recreational infrastructure necessary for all Americans to enjoy our great outdoors, is provided on a consistent and dependable annual basis.

Wild Insects can be Key to Crop Success

Recent research of Princeton professor Claire Kremin shows in this article that protecting the diversity of wild insects may prove crucial to ensuring and augmenting crop yields, such as almonds and watermelon.

Conservation bank dispute raises concern

An informative article on complexities and unforseen difficulties of creating and managing a conservation bank in Southern California. Discussion focuses on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's claim that Conservation Resources LLC sold too many elderberry longhorn beetle credits, highlighting the need for very close government involvment in conservation banking, at least in the early stages of establishment.

Emission Control

Bakony Power’s Hungarian Ajka plant needed a vital upgrade, but bank loans and bond issues were not forthcoming. Now forward sales of carbon credits for a biomass conversion program have given the plant a death-row pardon.

Valuation of Ecosystem Services Provided by Biodiversity Conservation: An Integrated Hydrological and Economic Model to Value the Enhanced Nitrogen Retention in Renaturated Streams

This paper presents a user-friendly procedure to quantify the increased N-retention in a renaturated river using easily available data. In a case study of the renaturated River Jossa (Germany) the benefits of increased nitrogen retention caused by beaver reintroduction are determined by using the replacement cost method. The quantification of chemical processes is discussed in detail, as well as the problems of defining an adequate reference scenario for the substitute costs. Results show that economic benefits from the evaluated ecosystem service (€12,000/annum) equal 12% of the total costs of the corresponding conservation scheme.

Sacramento wildland trust expands to Oakland

New-home construction may be driving much of Northern California's economy, but one company has found its fortune by saving land from development. The story of Wildlands Inc's success in conservation banking and growth into Northern California.

Private land bank finds saving nature is profitable

New-home construction may be driving Greater Sacramento's economy, but a local company has found its fortune by saving land from development. The story of Wildlands Inc's success in conservation banking in the Sacramento area.

Markets for Biodiversity Services

A great overview of the markets for biodiversity services, the authors explain that it is essential to find new mechanisms by which resourse owners and managers can realize the economic value created by good stewardship of biodiversity. The article lays out examples of new markets and payment systems, stategically shaped to deliver critical public benifits, that are showing temendous potential to move biodiversity conservation objectives to greater scale and significance.

What is Biopiracy?

This paper discusses the meaning of the term biopiracy and considers what should be done about it. The paper notes that the term biopiracy has emerged as a term to describe the ways that corporations from the developed world claim ownership of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and technologies of developing countries.

The author argues that drawing lines between acts of biopiracy and legitimate practices is very hard to establish. The difficulty in drawing the line is compounded by the vagueness in the way the term is applied. Behind much of the debate about biopiracy is disagreement on whether and to what extent such terms as theft, misappropriation and unfair free-riding should apply.

Carbon Market Picture Comes Into Focus

There is a long way to go before the global ‘carbon markets’ will actually resemble a real market rather than just a market place. Still, indicators from the last twelve months show signs that the ramp up to more mature markets could accelerate in 2004 posits this article.

From our forest to your medicine cabinet

International pharmaceutical companies have been collaborating with Costa Rica's National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio), in a relationship where in return for access to the country's rich trove of biological diversity as a potential source of raw materials for drugs, the firms provided INBio with extensive training and sophisticated equipment. INBio uses its expertise to help small firms in Costa Rica develop products based on sustainable use of biodiversity. With the help of a $1.6 million grant from the IDB's Multilateral Investment Fund, INBio launched the project Support to the Use of Biodiversity by Small Enterprises.

For Services Rendered

The many ecosystem services provided by forests (watershed protection, biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration, for example) are gaining increasing attention from governments and the forest industry, as well as from private citizens. People are becoming aware of the dangers and costs of allowing forest services to be degraded or lost. The purpose of this article is to help policymakers assess the concerns and questions surrounding ecosystem services by providing a preliminary assessment of the status of markets for ecosystem services and their potential to contribute to tropical forest conservation.

Problem Is Shortage of Capacity, Not Revenue Sources

Andreas Merkl, executive director of US-based Conservation and Community Investment Forum (CCIF), points to a considerable pool of potential capital from conventional sources. Merkl explains that this capital is unlikely to be committed unless the capacity to deliver protected area services at a meaningful scale with unassailable accountability is dramatically improved over current levels.

Fish and Wildlife Service Releases Conservation Banking Policy

Environmental Defense (ED) lauds the creation of formal guidance on conservation banking. ED explains that "federal guidelines were clearly needed and should ensure greater consistency in the Fish and Wildlife Service's approach to banking, but that the failure of the Service to invite public comment on the guidance is ill-advised and the new conservation banking policy, which is ambiguous or unclear in a number of places, would have benefited from outside scrutiny."

The Link Between Biodiversity and Sustainable Development: Lessons from INBio's Bioprospecting Program in Costa Rica.

This paper looks at the role of INBio's facilitation of bioprospecting to Costa Rica's quest to protect its biological wealth while simultaneously promoting the social and economic development. Gí¡mez concludes that INBio has assisted in Costa Rica's sustainable development by providing the country with vast and complex experience on access, legislation and uses of genetic and biochemical resources that facilitates the sustainable use of the country's biodiversity.