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Landscape Equivalency Analysis: Methodology for Estimating Spatially Explicit Biodiversity Credits (2005)

Landscape Equivalency Analysis: Methodology for Estimating Spatially Explicit Biodiversity Credits (2005) | NRG_ENV | Scoop.it
Abstract
We propose a biodiversity credit system for trading endangered species habitat designed to minimize and reverse the negative effects of habitat loss and fragmentation, the leading cause of species endangerment in the United States. Given the increasing demand for land, approaches that explicitly balance economic goals against conservation goals are required. The Endangered Species Act balances these conflicts based on the cost to replace habitat. Conservation banking is a means to manage this balance, and we argue for its use to mitigate the effects of habitat fragmentation. Mitigating the effects of land development on biodiversity requires decisions that recognize regional ecological effects resulting from local economic decisions. We propose Landscape Equivalency Analysis (LEA), a landscape-scale approach similar to HEA, as an accounting system to calculate conservation banking credits so that habitat trades do not exacerbate regional ecological effects of local decisions. Credits purchased by public agencies or NGOs for purposes other than mitigating a take create a net investment in natural capital leading to habitat defragmentation. Credits calculated by LEA use metapopulation genetic theory to estimate sustainability criteria against which all trades are judged. The approach is rooted in well-accepted ecological, evolutionary, and economic theory, which helps compensate for the degree of uncertainty regarding the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on endangered species. LEA requires application of greater scientific rigor than typically applied to endangered species management on private lands but provides an objective, conceptually sound basis for achieving the often conflicting goals of economic efficiency and long-term ecological sustainability.
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Policy evaluation of natural resource injuries using habitat equivalency analysis - ScienceDirect

Policy evaluation of natural resource injuries using habitat equivalency analysis - ScienceDirect | NRG_ENV | Scoop.it
Abstract
The natural resources managed by government agencies are commonly subject to injuries from accidental events. In order for agencies to evaluate alternative management plans, economic damage estimates are required of potential natural resource injuries under alternative scenarios. However, accurate damage estimates are often difficult to obtain because of a lack of data on the ex ante economic costs of natural resource injuries. In recent years, trustees have increasingly used habitat equivalency analysis (HEA) to scale compensation for natural resource injuries. Unlike traditional economic analysis, which bases damage estimates on losses to human use (and sometimes nonuse) values, HEA estimates the ecological service loss of the injury and then scales restorative ecological compensation to offset these losses. Thus, HEA aims to maintain a baseline level of ecological functioning rather than a baseline level of human welfare.

This paper describes the first attempt to use the HEA approach as an ex ante policy evaluation tool. The specific policy application is offshore oil development managed by the U.S. Minerals Management Service. We describe the reasons HEA was deemed the appropriate methodology to evaluate the ecological damages of potential oil releases into the environment. We then discuss the procedures used to estimate potential natural resource injuries, derive suitable ecological compensation in a HEA framework, and convert restorative ecological compensation into economic damage estimates. The validity of the economic estimates is explored by comparison to existing data. We conclude that HEA offers a viable alternative to traditional economic analysis when potential injuries to ecological habitats are being evaluated.
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Habitat Equivalency Analysis | NOAA's Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program

Habitat Equivalency Analysis | NOAA's Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program | NRG_ENV | Scoop.it
Habitat Equivalency Analysis (HEA)
In order to determine how much restoration is required to compensate for habitat injuries, we may conduct a Habitat Equivalency Analysis (HEA). This method assumes that equivalent habitats will provide equivalent services, meaning that years of lost services can be compensated for by providing acres of additional habitat.

The basic unit of measurement for this approach is typically a discounted-service-acre-year (DSAY). A DSAY represents the value of all of the ecosystem services provided by one acre of the habitat in one year. Services for future years are discounted, placing a lower value on benefits that will take longer to accrue. Therefore, additional acres of habitat must be restored when restoration is delayed.

Once the DSAYs are calculated for the injured habitat, restoration projects are selected that would adequately offset these DSAYs in the form of acres of restored habitat.

Resource Equivalency Analysis (REA)
When a pollution incident has significant effects on particular animal or plant populations, we may conduct a Resource Equivalency Analysis (REA). For example, consider an oil spill that kills a large number of ducks. Using information such as life expectancy and reproduction rate, we can estimate the “lost duck-years” due to the spill. We can then design restoration projects to restore or create duck habitat, scaling the size of the project so that it will fully compensate for the duck-years lost in the incident. As in a HEA, we always apply a discount rate to future years in a REA, so that additional restoration is required the longer that recovery is delayed.
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Using AI to build a comprehensive database of knowledge

Using AI to build a comprehensive database of knowledge | NRG_ENV | Scoop.it
If you look at other groups doing AI research, a lot of them are focused on very much the same as the academic style of research, which is coming out of new algorithms and publishing to sort of the same conferences. If you look at some of these industrial AI labs—they're doing the same kind of work that they would be doing in academia—whereas what we're doing, in terms of building this large data set, would not have been created otherwise without starting this effort.
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A swarm of drones that just wants to help

A swarm of drones that just wants to help | NRG_ENV | Scoop.it
The UAE's "Drones for Good" competition challenges teams to come up with uses that combat the technology's negative perception.
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Data contradict common perceptions about a controversial provision of the US Endangered Species Act

"Abstract Separating myth and reality is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of laws. Section 7 of the US Endangered Species Act (Act) directs federal agencies to help conserve threatened and endangered species, including by consulting with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) or National Marine Fisheries Service on actions the agencies authorize, fund, or carry out. Consultations ensure that actions do not violate the Act's prohibitions on "jeopardizing" listed species or "destroying or adversely modifying" these species' critical habitat. Because these prohibitions are broad, many people consider section 7 the primary tool for protecting species under the Act, whereas others believe section 7 severely impedes economic development. This decades-old controversy is driven primarily by the lack of data on implementation: past analyses are either over 25 y old or taxonomically restricted. We analyze data on all 88,290 consultations recorded by FWS from January 2008 through April 2015. In contrast to conventional wisdom about section 7 implementation, no project was stopped or extensively altered as a result of FWS finding jeopardy or adverse modification during this period. We also show that median consultation duration is far lower than the maximum allowed by the Act, and several factors drive variation in consultation duration. The results discredit many of the claims about the onerous nature of section 7 but also raise questions as to how federal agencies could apply this tool more effectively to conserve species. We build on the results to identify ways to improve the effectiveness of consultations for imperiled species conservation and increase the efficiency of consultations. Data contradict common perceptions about a controversial provision of the US..."

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Blockchain in the Energy Sector - Online Course

Understand how blockchain works, where the technology has come from and why it will disrupt the energy sector. Join an online course from InnoEnergy.
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Indicators for Monitoring Biodiversity: A Hierarchical Approach - NOSS - 2005 - Conservation Biology - Wiley Online Library

Recommended as highly-cited article about metrics for BD at different scales.
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Executive Order 3349

“Mitigation Policy Review. (i) Within 14 days of the date of this Order, each bureau and office head shall provide to the Deputy Secretary, through their Assistant Secretary, all Department Actions they have adopted or are in the process of developing relating to (1) the Presidential Memorandum dated November 3, 2015, "Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment" and (2) Secretary's Order 3330. [basically, all of the waterfall revised mitigation policies – of the DOI, the FWS, and ESA] (ii) Within 30 days of the date of this Order [3/27, so that would be 4/27], the Deputy Secretary shall inform the Assistant Secretaries whether to proceed with reconsideration, modification, or rescission as appropriate and necessary of any Department Actions they have adopted or are in the process of developing relating to (1) the Presidential Memorandum dated November 3, 2015, "Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment" and (2) Secretary's Order 3330. (iii) Within 90 days of the date of this Order, each bureau and office required to reconsider, modify, or rescind any such Department Action, shall submit to the Deputy Secretary, through.their Assistant Secretary, a draft revised or substitute Department Action for review [that would be end of June]”
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A simple, sufficient, and consistent method to score the status of threats and demography of imperiled species

A simple, sufficient, and consistent method to score the status of threats and demography of imperiled species | NRG_ENV | Scoop.it
Managers of large, complex wildlife conservation programs need information on the conservation status of each of many species to help strategically allocate limited resources. Oversimplifying status data, however, runs the risk of missing information essential to strategic allocation. Conservation status consists of two components, the status of threats a species faces and the species’ demographic status. Neither component alone is sufficient to characterize conservation status. Here we present a simple key for scoring threat and demographic changes for species using detailed information provided in free-form textual descriptions of conservation status. This key is easy to use (simple), captures the two components of conservation status without the cost of more detailed measures (sufficient), and can be applied by different personnel to any taxon (consistent). To evaluate the key’s utility, we performed two analyses. First, we scored the threat and demographic status of 37 species recently recommended for reclassification under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and 15 control species, then compared our scores to two metrics used for decision-making and reports to Congress. Second, we scored the threat and demographic status of all non-plant ESA-listed species from Florida (54 spp.), and evaluated scoring repeatability for a subset of those. While the metrics reported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are often consistent with our scores in the first analysis, the results highlight two problems with the oversimplified metrics. First, we show that both metrics can mask underlying demographic declines or threat increases; for example, ∼40% of species not recommended for reclassification had changes in threats or demography. Second, we show that neither metric is consistent with either threats or demography alone, but conflates the two. The second analysis illustrates how the scoring key can be applied to a substantial set of species to understand overall patterns of ESA implementation. The scoring repeatability analysis shows promise, but indicates thorough training will be needed to ensure consistency. We propose that large conservation programs adopt our simple scoring system for threats and demography. By doing so, program administrators will have better information to monitor program effectiveness and guide their decisions.
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Refining the Use of Habitat Equivalency Analysis (2007)

Refining the Use of Habitat Equivalency Analysis (2007) | NRG_ENV | Scoop.it
Abstract
When natural resources are injured or destroyed in violation of certain U.S. federal or state statutes, government agencies have the responsibility to ensure the public is compensated through ecological restoration for the loss of the natural resources and services they provide. Habitat equivalency analysis is a service-to-service approach to scaling restoration commonly used in natural resource damage assessments. Calculation of the present value of resource services lost due to injury and gained from compensatory restoration projects is complicated by assumptions concerning the within-time period crediting of losses and gains. Conventional beginning-of-period accounting leads to an underestimate of the loss due to injury and an overestimate of the gains from compensatory projects in cases with linear recovery projections. The resulting compensatory requirement is often insufficient to offset the true loss suffered by the public. Two algebraic equations are offered to correct for these estimation inaccuracies, and a numerical example is used to illustrate the magnitude of error for a typical, though hypothetical, injury scenario.
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Habitat and Resource Equivalency Analysis: A Critical Assessment - ScienceDirect (2018)

Habitat and Resource Equivalency Analysis: A Critical Assessment - ScienceDirect (2018) | NRG_ENV | Scoop.it
Abstract
Restoration of ecological resource services from oil spills or chemical releases is a central component of natural resource damage assessments (NRDA) in the U.S. Equivalency analysis methods, particularly habitat equivalency analysis (HEA) and resource equivalency analysis (REA), are widely used methods for scaling compensatory restoration requirements. Although originally conceived for relatively modest habitat and/or short-duration injury, HEA is now widely used in service quantification and restoration scaling at large, complex NRDA sites. HEA can be viewed as a simplified alternative to a comprehensive ecosystem approach that requires more extensive primary data collection and differing assumptions.

The basic premise of equivalency analysis uses relatively simple computations. However, the theoretical underpinnings are complex and include many economic and ecological assumptions that are crucial in methodology application. This review provides needed scrutiny to HEA applications and practices. We also consider global trends in applying etiuivalency analysis, including its use in environmental liability legislation in the European Union and more novel applications, such as measuring damages from forest fires and calculating mitigation requirements in environmental impact assessments. Although the theoretical literature on the equivalency methods is relatively robust, more case studies of applications in actual applications are needed to help improve proper use of the methods and to encourage development of best practices by practitioners.
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The beauty of data visualization

The beauty of data visualization | NRG_ENV | Scoop.it

David McCandless turns complex data sets (like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates) into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut -- and it may just change the way we see the world. 


Check out ~12:20, balloon race diagram - the higher up, the more evidence, the bubble size corresponds to (google hits, but it could easily be Klout score or # of publications on that aspect etc.)

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Field Test: Can We Use Drones to Monitor Water Quality?

Field Test: Can We Use Drones to Monitor Water Quality? | NRG_ENV | Scoop.it
A Day in the Field with Drones: NatureNet Science Fellow Essayas Ayana reports on a field experiment to test the potential of UAVS to measure water quality.
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Protecting Species or Hindering Energy Development? How the Endangered Species Act Impacts Energy Projects on Western Public Lands by Melinda E. Taylor, Romany Webb, Vanessa Puig-Williams :: SSRN

Since it was enacted in 1973, the ESA has been one of the most celebrated environmental laws, but also one of the most reviled. Industry groups argue that the c
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Free Aerial Imagery as a Resource to Monitor Compliance with the Endangered Species Act (PDF Download Available)

Free Aerial Imagery as a Resource to Monitor Compliance with the Endangered Species Act (PDF Download Available) | NRG_ENV | Scoop.it
Full-text (PDF) | Compliance monitoring is an integral part of law and policy implementation. A lack of compliance monitoring for the Endangered Species Act (ESA), driven in part by resource limitations, may be undercutting efforts to recover threatened and endangered species. Here we evaluat
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Earth Observation from Space - Online Course

Discover how optical Earth observation data is gathered and used in this free online course from the European Space Agency (ESA).
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Big Data and the Environment - Online Course

STARTS MARCH 3 2018. Discover the potential of environmental data, and learn how it’s used in business and research, with this online big data and the environment course. 

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Jamie Roberts moves on | College of Natural Resources and Environment | Virginia Tech

Jamie Roberts moves on | College of Natural Resources and Environment | Virginia Tech | NRG_ENV | Scoop.it
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Bay Journal - Article: New plant on James River to require 1st pollution trade of its kind in VA

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