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Ecosystem Marketplace - New White House Water Guidance Includes Ecosystem Services Approach

Ecosystem Marketplace - New White House Water Guidance </br> Includes Ecosystem Services Approach | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

30 May 2013 | Human existence depends on ecosystem services, and while some are quite obvious – think carbon sequestration and water regulation – others, like soil regulation, are not. But they are all equally important and necessary in sustaining life, which is why there is a growing understanding and appreciation for these services. It's also why the preservation and conservation of valuable ecosystems is appearing in government policies and planning.

For instance, the White House's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which coordinates the executive branch's environmental efforts, has recently released an updated version of the 1983 Principles and Guidelines on Water and Land Related Resources Implementation Studies to include an ecosystem services approach to the evaluation process. Previous guidelines focused almost exclusively on economic factors.

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

This is about using guidance or regulations - policy or legislation - to move ecosystem services and environmental markets, really:

 

My contribution? ""Guidance has been useful as they send a clear message, and can be used by those willing and eager to have some consistency," says Jemma Penelope, a private consultant to the conservation and species banking industry. "But they tend to promote rather than require."

Timing also plays an important role in the effects. For conservation banking, Penelope believes the time is right to implement higher standards because there is a push from all sides involved and they agree it's what the industry needs. Those involved in the water sector would need to determine if the time is right, as well, for guidelines prompting an ecosystem services approach or regulations requiring it. "

 

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Nature + Economics

Environmental markets' news & resources: species, wetlands, habitat and biodiversity.

From May 2013, Madsen Environmental has handed over these reins. I'll continue the focus and trends of Nature+Economics here, and post on similar themes. Follow, suggest a Scoop, and offer advice and feedback as I curate
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14th Finance Commission and green bonus - E-Pao.net

14th Finance Commission and green bonus - E-Pao.net | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

"Green Bonus is a new term in the environmental parlance denoting the money which is to be given for the effort made by a country, state or community for preservation of green cover. It is a compensation to be given to the people for the sacrifices they have made in preserving the green cover, which not only benefits them, but also benefits others nearby and humanity as a whole. So, in the 14th Finance Commission Awards, green bonus need to be given adequate consideration....


We know that the Uttarakhand is likely to get a green bonus for ecosystem services of its forests....

 

... In fact, many states are clamouring for a green bonus from the centre. 

The states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have been pioneers. They have substantial areas under forest cover. Of late, Maharashtra also joined the party. Other states likely to get benefit of Green Bonus are Kerala, Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh. There was an interim order of the Supreme Court passed in course of interlocutory applications (IA 424) of W.P (C) 202/1995 that the forest deficit states should pay the forest surplus states."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

Although a green bonus ideas could be lacking some of the transparency, accoutnability and measureability requirements of truly sustainable and effective forests conservation/offset/management, I think it's a useful way for India to get these disuccsions happening, and Indian States seeing the economic benefit of valuing nature. A program like this could easily be developed into something more specific and robust, but I think it's got plenty of wieght as it is right now.

 

That's if there are the governance structures in place - India is known to have coruption thart someotherwise wholesome ideas and policies. 

 

It goes to show that policy can be brillant, but delivery is just as important. 

 

This article goes on to discuss how each element of the Green Bonus is weighted - for forest cover, carbon emissions, pollution, biodiversity etc. And argues forest cover should get bigger weighting thatn 2%. I can't help but agree.

 

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Conservation down from the hills | Otago, South Island, New Zealand

Conservation down from the hills | Otago, South Island, New Zealand | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it
A new vision for conservation hopes to break down some of the old divisions, writes Tom McKinlay.

 

"Tahi is the Northland retirement project of Dr John Craig (ONZM), formerly a professor in the University of Auckland's School of Environment, who is continuing his life's work with the ecologically focused project in biodiversity conservation. To wit, 300ha which is home to the pricey retreat, a manuka honey operation, carbon-credit harvesting, wetland restoration and tree planting, among other things. The tree-planting count so far is up to 210,000. Dr Craig also hopes to get into biobanking.

The internationally certified operation is plugged in to the Zeitz Foundation's Long Run initiative, which backs projects that combine the four elements conservation, community, culture and commerce.

So it's an attempt to do something with the land that turns a dollar but is sustainable for the long term."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

I've been waiting for more progressive developments from my home-town (well, country). We've got such brillant environment to work with. I hope this project drives the conversation like it intends to.

 

I worked with David Norton on my thesis. So I'm really keep to see him bring his knowledge to the table.

 

 

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The Endangered Species Act at 40: Forty Things Journalists Should Know | SEJ

The Endangered Species Act at 40: Forty Things Journalists Should Know | SEJ | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

By JOHN R. PLATT

 

"It has been called the most successful piece of environmental legislation ever, but at times it has also been one of the most controversial. Over the past 40 years the Endangered Species Act has helped to bring several threatened species — including the iconic bald eagle — back from the brink and to stabilize the declining populations of the majority of the other species that it protects. But despite its sucesses, the ESA in many ways remains both poorly understood and under threat from political forces that seek to undermine or dismantle it. As we head toward 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act in December, here are 40 things that environmental journalists should know about the Act and how they can cover it. This is hardly comprehensive, but it may help to illuminate some of the issues in question as the Act prepares for its second 40 years."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

If you're working at the intersection between Nature and Economics, working in the realm of development projects (Economics) and Endangered Species (Nature), you can't live without the Endangered Species Act. Or live with, depending on your perspective.

 

But it's a inherent inherent inherent long-standing part of this world. Even though everyone in America knows there are plenty of things wrong with the Act, there are countless countries around the world that look to this example, and wish they had something so proactive and intrenched to at least build on for their own Nature+ Economics balancing Act.

 

We all should know this stuff - and read the act. It's not long, and I'm guessing the contents might surprise some people....

 

Thanks John Platt!

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Citizen Space - Biodiversity Offsetting in England

Citizen Space - Biodiversity Offsetting in England | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

"...England faces the twin challenges of growing its economy and improving its natural environment. We will not achieve these goals unless our planning system is fit-for-purpose.

Our economy cannot afford expensive and inefficient planning processes that unnecessarily delay or block the housing and infrastructure our economy needs to grow.

Our environment cannot afford development which continues to eat away at nature. So we must maintain and improve our ecosystems, air, water and soils as they underpin sustainable economic growth in the long-term.

However, as the Ecosystems Market Task Force and Natural Capital Committee have both said, there is a way we can make our planning system better: biodiversity offsetting..."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

It's been long-awaited: UK Biodiversity offsetting. DEFRA has sent quite a bit of time looking at this, after launching pilot projects several years ago. Here's the chance to look at what they've concluded after these years looking at the results. 

 

Biodiversity Offsetting is partcularly challenging in a country such as the UK - the human impact has been so fundamental, over such a long period of time. There are some beautiful natural areas and conservation is still essential, but wide swathes of untouched biodiversity are hard to find now. 

 

It's great to see Biodiveristy Offsetting a way towards a more sustainable future for the UK and their natural environment, but this policy and system is taking forever!

 

Heres's your chance to comment, on DEFRA's page.

 

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Ecosystem Marketplace - The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Water and Wetlands

Ecosystem Marketplace - The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Water and Wetlands | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

The “nexus” between water, food and energy is one of the most fundamental relationships and challenges for society.The importance of this nexus was re-emphasised at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012. 

...Wetlands are a fundamental part of local and global water cycles and are at the heart of this nexus. We also expect wetlands to be key to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the future Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)...

...However, the full value of water and wetlands needs to be recognised and integrated into decision- making in order to meet our future social, economic and environmental needs. Using the maintenance and enhancement of the benefits of water and wetlands is, therefore, a key element in a transition to a green economy.

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

TEEB - THe Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity - has prodcued some wonderful itterature over recent years. This July they've produced a report focusing on wetlands, and seems to suggest that the most important ecosystem when it comes to that interaction between Nature and the Economy is wetlands indeed. This is not only due to the number of ecosystem services they provide to so many aspects of the human Economy - water, energy, agriculture - but also because they are so threatened in so many regions around the world.

The report is reponding to the priorisation of wetlands under the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012, and the resulting documents "The Future We Want". The report goes on to suggest wetlands will also bea big part of the Millenium Development Goals too.

It's great to see this kind of emphasis given to wetlands. TEEB say they are more valuable than other ecosystems.

The report goes on to talk about how to measure and assess wetlands, improve decision-making around wetlands and development/infrastrucutre impacting wetlands, and how to manage wetlands better.

So I think this is good. We have lots of good ways to conserve, preserve, and restore wetalnds. It seems to be a high-return venture - you can create or recreate wetalnds in a number of locations big and small, and almost all bioshere and region around the world has some place for wetland ecosystems. They've traditionally been one of the most marginalised ecosystems due to public perception, conflict with agriculture and other coastal prioririties. But there have also been some notable conservation successes at the local, regional and programatic levels.

So if we could prioritise wetlands like this TEEB report promotes, there's also a good change we could make it work.

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Offshore Alaska Drilling: Private Effort versus Regulatory Constraints

Offshore Alaska Drilling: Private Effort versus Regulatory Constraints | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

"Royal Dutch Shell has spent billions of dollars over six years preparing to drill for new oil in Alaska. The hidden treasure is an estimated 20–25 billion barrels of oil beneath the Beaufort and Chuckchi Seas.

Not surprisingly, drilling for oil in Alaska is complicated and expensive... part of the complexcity is the distant Arctic location and the short summer exploraion and drilling window.... "

 

Not surprisingly, drilling for oil in Alaska is complicated and expensive (See map of proposed offshore exploration and drilling in Alaska). Part of the complexity is the distant Arctic location and short summer exploration and drilling window, and part is caused by drifty U.S. federal regulations.

 

- See more at: http://www.masterresource.org/2013/07/drilling-oil-alaska/#more-26633

 

Royal Dutch Shell has spent billions of dollars over six years preparing to drill for new oil in Alaska. The hidden treasure is an estimated 20–25 billion barrels of oil beneath the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Not surprisingly, drilling for oil in Alaska is complicated and expensive (See map of proposed offshore exploration and drilling in Alaska). Part of the complexity is the distant Arctic location and short summer exploration and drilling window, and part is caused by drifty U.S. federal regulations.

- See more at: http://www.masterresource.org/2013/07/drilling-oil-alaska/#more-26633

Royal Dutch Shell has spent billions of dollars over six years preparing to drill for new oil in Alaska. The hidden treasure is an estimated 20–25 billion barrels of oil beneath the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Not surprisingly, drilling for oil in Alaska is complicated and expensive (See map of proposed offshore exploration and drilling in Alaska). Part of the complexity is the distant Arctic location and short summer exploration and drilling window, and part is caused by drifty U.S. federal regulations.

- See more at: http://www.masterresource.org/2013/07/drilling-oil-alaska/#more-26633

Royal Dutch Shell has spent billions of dollars over six years preparing to drill for new oil in Alaska. The hidden treasure is an estimated 20–25 billion barrels of oil beneath the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Not surprisingly, drilling for oil in Alaska is complicated and expensive (See map of proposed offshore exploration and drilling in Alaska). Part of the complexity is the distant Arctic location and short summer exploration and drilling window, and part is caused by drifty U.S. federal regulations.

- See more at: http://www.masterresource.org/2013/07/drilling-oil-alaska/#more-26633
MJP EcoArchives's insight:

Not surprisingly, drilling for oil in Alaska is complicated and expensive (See map of proposed offshore exploration and drilling in Alaska). Part of the complexity is the distant Arctic location and short summer exploration and drilling window, and part is caused by drifty U.S. federal regulations.

 

- See more at: http://www.masterresource.org/2013/07/drilling-oil-alaska/#more-26633

The writer mightn't have had this in mind, but this overview of Royal Dutch Shell's presnce in the Artic is interesting to anyone who follows this sort of thing.


The question of enviornmetnal protection versus economic developement is played out so sharkly in the areana of the Arctic. So much to gain, so much to loose and the stakeholders are far wider than the geographic area. Some say it's a humanity-scale debate.

There are really interesting questions here - if we can get that much economic return and energy from the area, should we be enough to overwhelme the environmental dangeres?

Now, Shell has a pretty good enviornmental reccord and has spent billions in going through tht proper regulatory channels and putting all enviornmental protection practices it can into place. But we all admit we don't quite know all the ins and outs of energy extraction in the Arctic.

And lastly, if we have regulations in place to manage this conflict between Nature and Economcis in the arctic, should we step back and let companies like Shell porcees through and let the jury decided the outcome according to pre-established parameters. Or should we take extra-special consideration because it's the Arctic and start the process all over.

I'm not sure what I think, but I don't like the idea of Clean Air vlolations being used for anything other than Clean Air violations. And I like even playing-fields. If Shell can get through our regulations and requirements and maintain an effective balance between protecting Nature and returning Econmic value, then that's only fair, right?

Don't hate the player, hate they game? But it could mean it's time to change the game....

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Muhammad's curator insight, September 8, 2013 9:58 PM

Price for oil will momentarily decrease as supply increases because of newfound oil in Alaska. Will the price of these findings become outweighed by the revenue from the increased demand of the consumer? 

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Ecosystem Marketplace - PES in Southeast Asia: An Online Resource for Students and Practitioners

Ecosystem Marketplace - PES in Southeast Asia: An Online Resource for Students and Practitioners | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

 

"The 17th Katoomba Meeting in Hanoi helped crystallize local and global understanding of Vietnam’s evolving payments for ecosystem services regime.  We’ve been sifting through the video to provide you with summaries of most presentations, and are in the process of uploading as audio-only with accompanying powerpoints for people who prefer listening over watching or who are  in low-bandwidth areas."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

While we are on the topic of Payments for Ecosystem Services, I came across this nice, tidy pack of resources following the latest Katoomba Group. While not with quite the teeth some had expected earlier on, Katoomba and it's affiliates are still one of my favorite groups when looking at bringing Economies and Nature together, into harmony.

 

Thank you Ecosystem Marketplace for providing this coverage (even if I am slow on the uptake here.....)

 

"A diverse array of policymakers, investors, businessmen, academics, and environmentalists will be meeting in Hanoi on June 23 and 24 for the Seventeenth Katoomba Meeting. Their mission is to develop various means of protecting nature across Southeast Asia by incorporating the value of nature’s services into the region’s growing economy. Drawing on the success of past Katoomba Meetings, Ecosystem Marketplace will be streaming content from the event to make this a truly global forum.

We have also created a mirror site that will exclusively carry content related to this exciting forum. Feel free to visit us here over the coming weeks as we upload interviews with key participants and preview some of the issues that Katoomba XVII will address."

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Call to pay landowners to save peat

Call to pay landowners to save peat | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

"Britain’s rich landowners are fuelling climate change by clearing peat bogs for grouse shooting, according to a report.

 

Landowners burn off the peat to encourage the growth of heather, which feeds the sporting birds.

 

The Committee on Climate Change says they should be paid to leave the bogs to store carbon and water."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

A push for Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES)?

The UK needs to conserve their peat bogs for varrious reasons - primarily carbon emissions - and seems stopping the destruction is a urgent step.

 

Here the call goes out to pay land-owners not to drain or burn peat bogs. It's interesting to see how 'normal' PES seems in this article, where is other times and places you'd see calls to create national or public reserves, or create stringent regulations to stop it. Mainstreaming PES is a positive thing.

 

But there are problems - who should get paid? And some see the suggestion to give weathly land-owners for basically taking no actions seems unpleasant to some. PES can be hard to develop when equity and transparency aren't clear cut.

 

It's interesting this article ends with discussion about the benefit to the economy for funelling funds into peat bog envirionments from water values. Clearner water, better flood control, greater food security - all things the UK sees as valuable reasons to keep peat bogs.


Certainly an example of a comprehensive, Ecosystem Services approach. From this tone, it seems hard to think about either the Economy or Nature any more. They're clearly intertwined here.

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UNDP gives $US12m for biodiversity - Papua New Guinea - News - Islands Business magazine

UNDP gives $US12m for biodiversity - Papua New Guinea - News - Islands Business magazine | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

"PORT MORESBY, PNG --- THE United Nations Development Program-Global Environment Fund (UNDP-GEF) will aid Papua New Guinea (PNG) with U$D12 million to protect its biodiversity.

 

UNDP-GEF supports countries in unleashing the economic potential of protected area systems and mainstreaming biodiversity management into economic activities. Minister Pundari said the Government will create a Biodiversity Trust Fund (BTF) to protect the biodiversity of the country’s environment."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

It seems a nice progressive step for the UNDP to see biodivesrity and NATURE Protection as instrumental to ECONOMIC success, here.

 

The Minster for the Enviornement and Conservation has stated their Trust Fund process will be transparent and accountable. A laudable goal, but frequetnly ellusive in areas with economically and politically challenged recent history, such as Papua New Guinea.


While the majority of early fund ear-marking has gone to protecting their conservation areas (good to walk before you can run), it seems they are also making progress towards more integrated conservation approaches.

 

"He revealed that he had signed the first approval in principle for a resource developer in Western Province to include a biodiversity offset plan in its development."

 

It's great to see Economic Development organsisations like the UNDP getting behind these intitiatves in still-developing areas. Let's hope its a steady trajectory to success for PNG.

 

 

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UN Report GEO5 for Business

Global environmental trends are creating new risks and new opportunities for businesses in every industry. Indeed the transition to a green economy,

now in its early stages, will open up great opportunities for companies that understand the implications of these trends and account for them in their planning and business strategy. Conversely, companies that fail to understand the changes, or that act too slowly, will put value at risk.

GEO-5 for Business is written for business leaders who
are responsible for ensuring that risks and opportunities
are understood, addressed, and turned into long-term competitive advantage for their companies. The report assesses the operational, market, reputational, and policy implications of environmental trends on ten business sectors....

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

First up, this 5th Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5) report identifies 8 Environmental Trends to use to focus on how these effect their group of 10 business sectors - i.e. how this Nature is effecting these Economies.

 

Trends: Green House Gasses, Severe Weather, Land Conversion, Water Availability, Water Pollution, Biodiversity, Chemical Exposure, Waste.

 

It's an interesting collection and terminology. Land conversion is important, and it's great to see separate recognition of the difference between water quality and quanity. But lets call it Biodiveristy LOSS, not just biodiversity. Interesting they talk about Severe Weather and other effects of Temperature or Climate change, but not the phenomenon itself.

 

"This is the world that business must navigate, today and into the future. Without dramatic and unexpected shifts in the drivers of these trends, we can expect that environmental pressures such as those noted above will increase throughout the foreseeable future, causing major changes not only in physical landscapes, but in social, political, and business landscapes as well.'

 

Read on to see what the UN thinks are the implications, divided by sector.

 

It makes it sounds like Nature - the environment - is just part of business - the Economy. Which is not a new approach, but the sooner this attitiude becomes widspread and mainstream, the more momentum will build for a green economy. Of course, this just adds to one of seemingly billions of reports on similar subjects. Infomation is power, but it will soon be important to see more that just 'awareness' raising.

 

But it's a comprehensive report, and the emphasis on IMPACTS and outcomes is forward-thinking.

 

I wonder what you all think of this report, and who else has read it?

 

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Global fund would provide effective means to fuel REDD+ climate program: experts

Global fund would provide effective means to fuel REDD+ climate program: experts | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

"OSLO, Norway (11 June, 2013) – Efforts to stop an increase in global temperatures can succeed if policymakers put in place a broad governance structure to oversee REDD+ from which money would trickle down through state-level funding to local projects, according to a new research paper.

How best to govern REDD+ — a U.N.-backed framework for reducing emissions caused by deforestation and degradation — is politically disputed, particularly over what role financial markets and governments should play in the scheme."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

This research paper investigates, basically, four main ways to get the money to the REDD+ projects. As orignially conceived, if there was a 'market' for REDD projects (i.e. someone to buy them) then organizations would go ahead and create REDD+ projects - so conserving valuable forests in the process.

 

But the question remains, how to create this 'market', this demand, for REDD+ projects. Getting the funding to the projects has been slower than desired.

 

This report looks at four ways to get the necessary money flowing: "four potential national REDD+ architectures that could be funded directly by a compliance market or by a global fund supported by both public and private sources."

 

I liked this part: “The main idea is to open up the box and start to think about wider governance structures, rather than just thinking about it as a market, which has been the preferred mechanism up until now,” said Vatn at the “Options for National REDD+ Architectures” conference in Norway."

 

They're starting to think about the next phase of Kyoto obligations, and what lessons they can learn from the CDM. And the idea of a global fund, with sub-national funds to be more locally-specific could enhance usability and transparency.

 

Increasing transparency in any solution, seems to be a clear message. And while no-one seems to be suggesting any movement away from market-based mechanisms per say, it's interesting to note that the solutions appear to come from the right governance structures, rather than the right economics and market components per say.

 

Lastly, this page has a great wealth of links for background and more detailed information about REDD+

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Melbourne's Environmental Offset and the Western Grassland Preserve "Still our land, but owners in limbo"

Melbourne's Environmental Offset and the Western Grassland Preserve "Still our land, but owners in limbo" | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

"Despite more than 100 landowners being told in 2009 that their land would be sacrificed to provide the Western Grassland Reserve as an environmental offset for Melbourne’s growth, a date has yet to be set for when they will be bought out.

Landowners say less than 7 per cent of the 15,000 hectares required for the reserves has been acquired in the past four years.

A recent statement from Environment Minister Ryan Smith said developer contributions needed to fund compensation to landowners could be 30 years away."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

Here's an example of some of the troubles when trying to align Nature with Economics - aligning the time-scales.

 

The Melbourne Offset programer is pretty good as compensation and offsets go, at least from the conservation/nature perspective. And offsets in general are favored because they have economic efficiencies built in where the money for conservation is available.

 

But as it plays out we see it's hard to makes sure that money is there when it is needed. This scheme was supposed to be funded as the developers develop (and this approach isn't uncommon or silly), but in order to get the wheels in motion those who created the scheme needed to identify the lands that were to be used as offsets.

 

Here's where the trick lies - to get the money you have to locate the lands, but to conserve the lands you need the money first. But then there is a gap between designing the offset, and funding the offset - and what happens during the gap can impact both the nature and the economics of the whole operation.

 

And this example here shows some of the problems that can arise when the nature and the economics aren't quite temporally aligned....

 

I hope it works out, because in theory the Melbourne offset looked promising....

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California reforms conservation bank framework - Western Farm Press

California reforms conservation bank framework - Western Farm Press | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

"California legislators have enacted the state's first conservation banking law, based on a pioneering program launched here 18 years ago. The new law provides a regulatory framework for the first time, adopting several reforms proposed by a comprehensive study appearing in the April-June 2013 issue of UC’s California Agriculture journal....

 

“For the first time, Senate Bill 1148 provides statutory procedures for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to evaluate and approve proposed conservation banks.This new law could become a model for other states,” says David Bunn, lead author of the article and researcher for the Wildlife Health Center at UC Davis. "It also authorizes new fees that will make it possible to fund more dedicated staff to carry out the program. However, further reforms are needed, for instance to set minimum conservation standards, enabling wildlife agencies to prioritize potential sites within a region.”

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

It's a big step and a good one - on the surface - but is the new fee schedule really going to have the desired effect, and did we need standards as well to make the industry sustainable?

 

See my review of this milestoe here: http://misjpmovesthings.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/eko-eco-post-getting-more-of-a-good-thing-californias-new-conservation-banking-legislation/

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We cherish and protect what we value | TEEB

We cherish and protect what we value | TEEB | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

...Thus in the face of such diversity and complexity it should come as no surprise that wetlands have diverse values and are also valued differently. A fisherman or farmer values wetlands as a source of subsistence and livelihood, an engineer or planner values them as a power source and natural water infrastructure, a birdwatcher or water-sports enthusiast values them as a place for leisure activities, and so on. Hence assuming that everyone values wetlands in the same way when it is not the case in reality can lead to unexpected trade-offs and conflicts. TEEB for Water and Wetlands  advocates that “In order to unlock the potential of wetlands, it is necessary to recognize who benefits, by how much, from which ecosystem services and how this might improve with positive restoration and management activities – or risk being negatively affected by any ecosystem degradation.”

Asking questions and raising concerns are a natural response to new ideas. They offer the opportunity for discourse and are a form of peer review. Some of the most commonly asked questions concerning the process of valuing the benefits of nature are as follows:

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

This is an excellent peice by Anand Chandrasekhar discusses some of the finer points when it comes to putting a 'value' or a 'price' on ecosystems. Wetlands are a great ecosystem to start with - we understand a fair amount of their biology/physiology/ecology, they are usually easy to define and deliniate, and their values (water purification, habtiat, flood control) are compartively easy to understand too. Thus, wetlands are the focus of the TEEB study Anand references. I am a big fan of the material TEEB produces. It's interesting and relevant.


Of course, as one reads this, one is struck by the very anthropocentric approach to valuation that can occur. Who values it? How much benefit does it give them?


Arguably there are some very unique, important and worthy ecosystems out there that might not be 'valued' by society at large, or produce tangible benefit (like water purification) to those around it. Worse, in our current ignorance we might think an ecosystem produces little benefit, then discover unknown qualities that become conspicuous by their absence. 


Not everyone agrees, but I am personally of the opnion that anthropocentric valuation is a useful place to start, and an appropriate way of engaging a distracted or uniformed audiance. But the proffessionals must not stop at this form of valuation alone. 


As Anand states: "Therefore the right approach to ecosystem valuation is one that acknowledges the limits, risks and complexities involved, covers different types of value appreciation, and includes various categories of response at the level of public policies, voluntary mechanisms and markets. A diversity of values is a good thing."


Hear, hear.

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Govt walking tightrope between environment protection & need to attract investments - The Economic Times

Govt walking tightrope between environment protection & need to attract investments - The Economic Times | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it
While the govt wants to be seen as acting tough on environmental violations, it is also desperate to attract investments amid slowing growth.

 

EAS Sarma recalls walking through one of Boston's avenues last year when he visited his son. The former power secretary's interest was piqued by a large tree by the road next to which there was a notice from the local authorities which said the tree had to be chopped down for safety reasons and asked people for their views.

"They conduct public hearings for a tree; here we would have never bothered about such things. We would have just cut the tree and said we have contributed to growth," says Sarma who since his retirement from the Indian Administrative Service has been taking up environmental causes. "Growth and development are black holes where you can commit rape and murder and get away with it," he adds."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

I like looking at the balance between Nature+Economics in India, because they have such challenges to overcome, and so many complex elements to the natural and social environment it plays out in. To really be able to deliver practical solutions to the Nature+Economics ideal, it has to work for somewhere like India. 


In areas of such high poverty and such poor economics prospects, how does one reconcile the need to perserve the environment too? We all know that a better environment improves the lives and welfare of those living now, no matter their economic status, but that it also creates more stability for their future generations. But it's just not that simple.....


"While the recent Land Acquisition Bill, despite being watered down from its original draft, streamlines the process and although companies will have to put up with lighter pockets, the government seems to be in a bind over which way to steer its environmental policy."



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NGO concern as UK Government releases its consultation on biodiversity offsetting | FERN

NGO concern as UK Government releases its consultation on biodiversity offsetting | FERN | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

This press release was launched on the day the UK Government published a long-awaited green paper on its proposed plans to implement biodiversity offsetting. The UK has been trialling biodiversity offsetting through a series of pilots since last year, but so far they have been an abject failure - the press release explains why. To see the green paper and input into the consultation visit: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/biodiversity/biodiversity_offsetting

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

Take a look at the DEFRA Consultation page below, and then consider this opinion....

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Corps of Engineers, National Audubon Society sign In-Lieu Fee agreement for ... - DVIDS

Corps of Engineers, National Audubon Society sign In-Lieu Fee agreement for ... - DVIDS | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District and the National Audubon Society – Connecticut Chapter (NAS-CT) signed an In-Lieu Fee agreement Aug. 21, 2013, which provides an alternative form of compensatory mitigation to those applicants seeking permits from the Army Corps of Engineers for work in Connecticut."

 
MJP EcoArchives's insight:

It might not be a market, but ILF - or In Lieu Fee - programs are one of a group of market-based ideas for wetland impact mitigation in the USA.

 

Market-based, in that you can make a payment to an ILF Fund according to your level of impact, and  the ILF Fund will collect these fees together to make a collective, more efficent conservation project.

 

They are also a kind of market competition to Wetlad Banking. While ILF opperators aren't usesually Mitigation Bankers, and visa versa, their customers might be the same. ILF can provide important competition to keep the prices of wetland mitigation from being monopolised by mitigation bankers, but too much competition could depress the prices below that which produces high quality, long term wetland mitigation.

 

An interesting intersect between Nature and Economcis here....

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Full-cost Pricing: an Impractical Solution - American Thinker

Full-cost Pricing: an Impractical Solution - American Thinker | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it
Full-cost Pricing: an Impractical Solution American Thinker The question of how to value the costs of so-called pollution and the benefits from ecosystem services has challenged researchers for some time, and the more work that is conducted, the...

"Over the past several years, we have seen a number of proposals put forward by environmentally active academics and think tanks calling for the implementation of concepts such as environmental policymaking with full-cost pricing, which includes policies and legislation that adjust market prices to reflect the direct costs of goods and services and their impact on so-called "natural capital" and 'ecosystem services'....

"The concept of eliminating all externalities (be they positive or negative) within economic systems is desirable. However, it is not presently practical, and any intermediate system will be subject to substantial errors. The question of how to value the costs of so-called pollution and the benefits from ecosystem services has challenged researchers for some time, and the more work that is conducted, the more questions and uncertainties arise. We are farther from the answers we need than ever, and such is the paradox of science: the more you learn, the more you realize you do not know."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

Behind the idea of integrating Nature and Economics, is developing 'full-price costings' (i.e. the nature-based or environmental costings) in to economic, policy and governance decisions.

This review is a good reminder of all the things we do not know. And to be thinking we are indeed conducting 'full-cost' pricing when we're not is clearly dangerous.

It's a good reminder of the different things we have to get past to make this laudable goal a reality. But let's not let the perfect get in the way of the good - in beginning to talk about these issues, solutions or otherwise, introduces important discussions nonetheless and each of these is step towards a better link between Nature and our Economy.

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Why Disney, BP and Rio Tinto are exploring ecosystem services

Why Disney, BP and Rio Tinto are exploring ecosystem services | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it
More firms find that paying attention to ecosystem services can reveal risks and help prevent problems with the supply chain and beyond.

 

...Disney, BP, Rio Tinto and Weyerhaueser represent vastly different sectors. Yet these companies see an increasingly persuasive business case for tracking the impacts and dependencies on biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES).

Simply put, the case for corporate action on BES has solidified, with internal and external dimensions that are more and more compelling. Ecosystem services are essential to businesses, as well as to some 450 million people whose livelihoods depend upon their ongoing flow."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

A great backgrounder by an excellent writer/researcher Sissel Waage - director of biodiversity and ecosystem services at BSR - puts a clearer picture of the momentum gaining behind the interaction between the Corporate world and Ecosystem Services. It might not be revolutionary to those in Corporate Ecosystem Services circles, but articles such as this show the topic is clearly no longer the warm-and-fuzzy discussion it was a while ago - this is straight business now, as Sissel describes. 

"...For example, more than 16 government agencies around the world either are investing in ecosystem services initiatives or developing related policies. This includes Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, the European Union, India, Israel, Japan, Nepal, Peru, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam...."

 

This piece also talks about how the Investment world, and stakeholders are driving this trend. Long may it continue that large name and heavy-weights such as Rio Tino, Disney and BP join the push to mainstream these ideas.

It really does make sense - I just wish it wouldn't be such an uphill battle sometimes...

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Anna Balez's comment, July 15, 2013 3:48 AM
Good insight of how ecosystem services are now used and are going to be used. Early adopters understand well the issue, I hope this kind of article will highlight the "ecosystemic challenge" for a large range of business audience.
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Pricing (Nonmarket) Ecosystem Services: The Dream (Part I)

Pricing (Nonmarket) Ecosystem Services: The Dream (Part I) | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

"Pricing nonmarket ecosystem services may be a noble goal. But it is a conceptually confused and problematic as a guide to real-world action, civic and certainly governmental.

 

This four-part series substantiates my concerns. After reviewing the general concept, I will examine environmentalist concerns with environmental commodification, review economist concerns with the same, and make final arguments and wrap-up."

"[Editor note: Last month, a conference--"Evaluating and Trading Ecological Services: Is There a Role for Natural Capital in the Marketplace?”--was held in Houston, Texas."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

This is a useful little piece of literature - some good background behind how the integration of Nature and Economics came to be. The pricing on environmental and ecosystem services. Ecological Economics. Free-market environmentalism and property rights for economic use of the environment.

 

Despite it's increasingly mainstream, and now long-lived, presence in policy, economic and environmental/conservation debates it appears this author would like to challenge this.

 

There are more parts to come, and I welcome anyone who can clearly discuss how our current Nature+Economics approach might be improved. Goodness knows these is room for improvement, no matter how successful or otherwise you think current action and initiative is.

 

Anyway, Mr Sterling Burnett, indicates here that he will go into detail in his four-part piece and further discuss the tremendous challenges the are to be faced if we are to truly integrate Nature and the Economy in a way that preserve the environment in the way it is intended by those who promote it.

 

I don't deny there are significant problems to overcome. I am interested to see if he has the sophistication and understanding to properly explore this. I am looking forward to it. Any fan of that Costanza study is a friend of mine.....

 

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Bringing Ecosystem Services into Economic Decision-Making: Land Use in the United Kingdom - Science Careers Blog

Landscapes generate a wide range of valuable ecosystem services, yet land-use decisions often ignore the value of these services. Using the example of the United Kingdom, we show the significance of land-use change not only for agricultural production but also for emissions and sequestration of greenhouse gases, open-access recreational visits, urban green space, and wild-species diversity. We use spatially explicit models in conjunction with valuation methods to estimate comparable economic values for these services, taking account of climate change impacts. We show that, although decisions that focus solely on agriculture reduce overall ecosystem service values, highly significant value increases can be obtained from targeted planning by incorporating all potential services and their values and that this approach also conserves wild-species diversity."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

Warning: this article requires a subscription!

 

But for those of you with access to 'Science' it sounds very interesting. Note they have looked at the ECONOMIC values of ecosystem services, not just the ecosystem components or level of biodiversity or other metric previously used.

 

As the abstract hints at, they've chosen to emphasizes how their results show that if we use really good, comprehensive land-use planning with a full suite of ecosystem services in mind, we can increase the values of ecosystem services and ultimately species diversity.

 

The full-text article surely contains greater detail and more sophisticated analysis, yet from the very presence of this research available shows how much more we are knowing about, and valuing, a whole-ecosystem services approach. And the directly-applicable economic information we can integrate here.

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BWSR, NRCS to partner on agricultural wetland mitigation banking program - Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

BWSR, NRCS to partner on agricultural wetland mitigation banking program - Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

"Today, the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will sign an agreement outlining each agency's role in the operation of an agricultural wetland mitigation bank, defining the circumstances in which the bank can be used and simplifying the process for landowners using the bank.

 

"Currently, each agency is responsible for different aspects of wetland banking. BWSR oversees implementation of wetland mitigation through the State Wetland Conservation Act, while NRCS is responsible for implementing wetland mitigation provisions within the federal farm program. Both programs allow landowners to impact wetlands under certain conditions when the drained wetland is replaced (mitigated) with a restored wetland.

 
MJP EcoArchives's insight:

I think this is a great attitude to State and Federal Wetland Banking:

A single, simple path to get the approval required, plus some level of distance between the interests approving the banks, and approving the

 

"Under the agreement, BWSR, partnering with local soil and water conservation districts, will provide assistance and oversight to landowners proposing to restore wetlands for deposit in the bank, while NRCS will oversee the majority of projects proposed by landowners who need to purchase wetland credits from the bank. Previously, many landowners were required to gain approval from both programs for the same project.

 

"BWSR, NRCS and local soil and water conservation districts want the agricultural wetland banking program to work well for both the buyer and seller," John Jaschke, BWSR Executive Director, said. "We believe this partnership will provide a more efficient process for landowners while benefiting Minnesota's wetland resources at the same time."

 

Perhaps more States will follow suit....

 

Also, check out my blog for coverage of similar State-driven changes to Mitigation Banking for species (i.e. Conservation Banking) in CA

http://misjpmovesthings.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/getting-more-of-a-good-thing-california-introduces-new-law-on-conservation-banking/

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New Stanford software helps identify cost-effective ways to invest in clean water - Stanford Report

New Stanford software helps identify cost-effective ways to invest in clean water - Stanford Report | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

Stanford Report: New Stanford software helps identify cost-effective ways to invest in clean water
... The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund. The project is aimed at aligning economic forces with conservation.

 

"Freshwater is one of the planet's most scarce resources. Demand for it is growing, and climate change threatens its supply. It's a serious problem.

But a new free software tool, the Resource Investment Optimization System (RIOS),  developed by researchers from the Natural Capital Project at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment,  could be part of the solution.

"Using the RIOS approach in Colombia has dramatically improved the return on investment over previous approaches to watershed investment. For example, if a water fund manager has $10,000 to spend on improving a stream's water quality, the RIOS software can help determine the most effective investment, whether it's paying farmers to avoid cultivation near the stream, stemming deforestation or building fences to keep animals away."

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

The Natural Capital project has produced some great items - I'm always looking out for truly targeted, practicle and feasible developments, and The Natural Capital project has piqued my interest in the past.

 

Watershed payments have been used for a while now to direct some economic incentives and backing to conservation of natural values on a landscape level. They've also been used in a variety different contries, regions and governance contexts around the world to quite some success. I'm always interested in ideas that span both the developed and developing world, and so I suspect that Watershed payments - in some permutation - will continue to be a part of commecting Ecnomics and Nature in the future  too.

 

Of course, one of the major challenges is locating where and how to spend money that actually delivers results. It's harder than it looks to do this - how do you locate these opportuntiies in a timely and cost-effective manner? Watershed payments need to be an effective option in watersheds where there is limited ecological knowldge and limited finacial resources.

 

If Stanford and the Natural Capital Project can find a method to determine where to put payments for watersheds, in the watersheds, then this is a real step forward for a promising system.

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Ecosystem Marketplace - The Natural Capital Declaration Moves
Forward With Implementation Phase

Ecosystem Marketplace - The Natural Capital Declaration Moves <br/> Forward With Implementation Phase | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

Last year at the Rio+ 20 Sustainable Development Conference, the Natural Capital Declaration (NCD) was launched and hailed as one of the most promising initiatives of the conference. Now, almost a year later, the NCD marks the start of Phase II which is explained in detail in the NCD Roadmap. Basically, Phase II is the implementation of the Declaration's four commitments through the process laid out in the Roadmap.

 

The NCD is a global project that seeks to integrate natural capital-the ecological goods and services the Earth provides that yields direct and indirect benefits, like water and timber-into financial accounting, disclosure and reporting. In doing so, the Declaration believes it will create a broader understanding of natural capital risks in financial markets. The NCD has been endorsed by investors, insurance firms and banks. A total of 41 CEOs from these financial institutions have signed the document.

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

I like it where it says "creates a broader understanding" - a goal that is worthy and more achieveable. Although, the cynics amounst us will reply that there is indeed the understand required at the levels required; it's the political and corporate will that we're waiting for.

 

But I think that the investment sector that the Natural Capital Declaration is focused on, may hold the key to real changes to the way ecosystems are dealt with in development and conservation.

 

Here, Kelli Barett notes that the NCD Roadmap (which outlines the upcoming implementation) does recognise that the hard part is getting the recognition of ecosystem values into the investment tools of the finance sector.

 

It's both nice to see the difficulties not sugar-coated, but also some big figures internationally coming up with ways to make progress in this areana. NCD joins a numbe of intiatives growing around the world - to me it's a sign that there is a critical mass being reached and it may be difficult, but maybe we're getting closer.

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Ecosystem Marketplace - Perseverance Pays Off ForMassive Indonesian REDD Project

Ecosystem Marketplace - Perseverance Pays Off ForMassive Indonesian REDD Project | Nature + Economics | Scoop.it

Two years ago, Indonesia's Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve was on the rocks after the country’s Ministry of Forestry turned more than half of its 80,000 hectares over to palm oil interests – an act that prevented it from becoming the first carbon project to generate credits under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) for saving endangered rainforest and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). By the end of last year, however, the project had been saved ....
Last week, independent auditor SCS Global Services confirmed that the project had, in fact, prevented the emission of roughly 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the year ending in July, 2010, meaning it can now sell 2,181,352 Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) from that period. Over the course of its 30-year life, the project aims to reduce emissions by 119 million tons.

MJP EcoArchives's insight:

It might have taken a while, and had a few wobbles along the way, but this is none the less an exciting achievement. REDD is a great theory, and a great idea to tie economic benefit to conserving nature. It's even more exciting as it's theoretical way to direct some of the economic resources of 'developed' countries to developing and under-developed countries. This theoretically makes some headway in the frustrating imbalance where many of the world's biodiversity is located in countries and regions with little finance to conserve it.

 

Of course, REDD is not a new concept, and there have been many who have criticized it - both in theory and practice. This success doesn't undo these concerns and the length of time we've had to wait to see success stories like this. And a singular example such as this one doesn't mean the whole envisioned REDD 'market' is about to thrive.

 

But once we've found an option to put some economically-driven support to nature conservation in a way that has some success, it's a sign that there is optimism to be had. We might be able to make REDD the answer we want it to be?

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