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Ecosystem Marketplace, Marketplace Mitigation Mail

April 15, 2016    

From the Editors

The Ecosystem Marketplace's Mitigation Mail
Conservation and Wetland News You Can Bank On

Greetings!


Late last year, just before he thwarted the Keystone XL oil pipeline, US President Barack Obama directed the five federal agencies responsible for land management to follow the mitigation hierarchy when designing biodiversity protection policies.


The presidential memorandum drew substantial attention, not necessarily because of its inclusion of the mitigation hierarchy, but for its ultimate objective of scaling up private investments for natural resource conservation. The Obama administration intends to streamline policies among federal agencies, aiming to create the right atmosphere for private investment.


It might be working. Last month, 11 organizations – some public, though mostly private – committed over $2 billion to water, wildlife and land investments. It's a commitment that the White House quickly labeled one of the biggest non-federal investments in conservation ever.


Meanwhile, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which is part of the Department of the Interior, is the first of the required agencies to release a new mitigation policy, the first proposed revisions since 1981. The revised DOI policy extends its scope to endangered species and expressly favors a net conservation gain from mitigation outcomes, as opposed to no net loss, which is different from the previous version. 


"The policies are so different, they're black and white," says Wayne White, President of the National Mitigation Banking Association, when comparing the revised version to its 1981 counterpart. "This policy gets to the level that we've been trying to reach with the Service and we're interested to see how this steps down to individual programs."


Ecosystem Marketplace also released a new report last monthNot So Niche: Co-benefits at the Intersection of Forest Carbon and Sustainable Development. The report analyzes responses to our 2015 survey of forest carbon project developers from around the world who provided details on the "beyond carbon" benefits of their work. It provides intriguing evidence that co-benefits, in particular biodiversity and community impacts, are often the "major" reason why buyers engage in forest carbon markets in the first place. 


Also in this month's Mitigation Mail: policy whiplash in Australia as Victoria seeks to strengthen mitigation requirements while evidence emerged that New South Wales keeps walking them back. Meanwhile, IPBES launched a new webinar series and the US BLM released guidance on compensatory mitigation for solar development in three western states.


—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at mitmail@ecosystemmarketplace.com.


EM Exclusives

Obama’s Biodiversity-Friendly Move Spurs $2 Billion In Commitments To Conservation

Biodiversity conservation in the US is getting revamped as federal agencies in the United States are accelerating their conservation commitments and drawing billions of private-sector dollars – largely because President Barack Obama is streamlining mitigation policies. The Fish and Wildlife Service released a revised umbrella policy last month.

  – Keep reading here.

 

Seeing The Forests For The Carbon: EM Releases New Co-Benefits Report Findings

Ecosystem Marketplace launched its latest report researching the co-benefits of forest carbon projects, finding biodiversity conservation, job creation, gender empowerment and clean water among the many non-carbon pros. Report authors presented the findings during a webinar in March.

  – Learn more and download EM's new co-benefits findings.

 

Biodiversity Offsetting In The UK: Cast Into The Wilderness?

While the UK government recently released the long-awaited conclusions from its consultation of biodiversity offsetting, analysts like the British Ecological Society are uncertain if the findings will lead to the mechanism’s use as pilot projects were inconclusive and the research questions offsetting’s ability to deliver anything more than marginal benefits.

  – Keep reading here.

 
 
Mitigation News  

Inpex Looks for an Exit on its Biodiversity Offsets Commitment

Japanese energy company Inpex is committed to environmental offsets for a $34 billion gas project in Australia's Northern Territory, but is now claiming the adverse impacts being offset aren't going to occur. The company is attempting to back out of part of the deal worth over $30 million. Regional government officials have yet to comment and the federal government is waiting for more evidence from the company before responding. The environmental activities on the chopping block include establishment of large conservation areas and a mega-fauna marine project, slated to create jobs for indigenous peoples.  

  – The Guardian has coverage.

 

Uncertainty Reigns over Australia's Biodiversity Offset Policy for Mining

New documents released to the public reveal an internal debate within Australia's government over the makeup of biodiversity offsets for mining operations. The documents reveal that the current political administration approved new offset policy that allowed mine site rehabilitation to function as compensation for adverse impacts, despite the Office of Environment and Heritage's uncertainty that such restoration could ever support biodiversity. Political adversaries and environmental groups are voicing their disapproval for "watered-down biodiversity offset policy" and vowing only to support offsets that generate no net loss or, ideally,  net positive outcomes for biodiversity.   

  – Read more here.

 

New BLM Solar Development Guidance Establishes Mitigation Fees

In early March, the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released new guidelines for solar energy development in Nevada, Colorado and Arizona that include a compensatory mitigation component. The BLM will determine the need for compensatory mitigation, based on a project's unavoidable impacts, and is preparing to establish a fee developers will pay to offset these impacts on elements like habitat and ecosystem services, among others. This mitigation fee will be determined as a fee-per-acre, though the agency won't decide on the cost until the project-specific National Environmental Policy Act evaluation is completed. 

  – Lexology has analysis.

 

Mitigation Roundup

  • Mitigation Marketing, a company providing sales services to mitigation banks in the US, says it's aiming to ramp up mitigation and conservation solutions for both public and private developers through a new partnership with Florida's Farmton Wetland Mitigation Bank.
  • Locals in Sarasota are unhappy about recent revelations that a wetland mitigation site for a Whole Foods commercial center seemed to already be pretty well protected, and thus perhaps 'no net loss' has not been achieved.
  • St. Petersburg, FL, wants to develop its own mitigation bank for seagrass.
  • In Washington's Skagit County, the Clear Valley Environmental Farm wetland mitigation bank made its first payment (equal to $6,000 for each credit sold by Clear Valley) last year under a $1.45M settlement to mitigate for the loss of farmland...from the development of the mitigation bank. 


 

Victoria Floats Stricter Mitigation Rules

A new consultation paper on native vegetation clearing regulations released by the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning proposes a stricter application of the mitigation hierarchy. The proposed changes would apply "avoid, minimize, mitigate" requirements across the board, oblige landowners to document avoidance and minimization actions, and lower the threshold for project size that triggers more stringent assessment by regulators. Regulations in 2013 had previously removed the "avoid" component.

  – Lexology has analysis.

 

South Dakota Farmers to Enter the Banking Business

The South Dakota Farm Bureau in partnership with private firm Dakota Wetland Partners (DWP) may be the first to utilize the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) new ag-focused Wetland Mitigation Banking Program.  They recently submitted the first grant application from South Dakota. DWP will provide technical expertise.

  – Read more from AgWeek.

 

Growing Trees and Sustainability on a Maryland College Campus

A forest mitigation bank is growing on McDaniel College's campus in Maryland, after the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay awarded the school a $25,000 grant to restore the land and plant 1,000 native trees. The project's creators predict it will take three years for the trees to fully mature. The trees will generate mitigation credits for parties felling trees for development purposes to purchase under a state program.

  – Read it at CBS Local Baltimore.

 

Mexico's Mangroves are Tiny in Stature but Mighty in Combating Climate Change

The squat and somewhat scrawny mangrove forests residing in desert-filled northwestern Mexico store more carbon per acre than many of the world's forests, or an amount equal to annual emissions from 60 million American cars, new research out of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography says. The findings are welcome news for blue carbon project developers attempting to rally conservation efforts for these degraded and disappearing marine environments. 

  – Learn more at Climate Central.

 

IPBES Builds Capacity With Webinar Series

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is launching a webinar series, the first of which took place on April 7. Webinar recordings, which will focus on key topics relating to capacity building within the platform and include a Q&A with participants, will be available on the IPBES website.

  – Find out more and register.

 

Sri Lanka's Construction Sector should Hammer out Biodiversity Safeguards, Environmentalists Say

Sri Lanka's fast-growing construction sector is giving some people pause about its impact on biodiversity. A recent forum encouraged the private sector to adopt safeguards that protect biodiversity similar to the ones foreign funders of construction projects have in place. Representatives from the development and NGO space suggested sector-wide required biodiversity regulations, while the Central Environment Authority is pushing for better assessments valuing biodiversity assets, which it says will lead to enhanced protections.

  – Economy Next has coverage.

 

Natural Capital gets a Nod from US Chamber of Commerce

The US Department of Commerce has a new addition to its website all about natural capital. A dedicated webpage explains natural capital and ecosystem services, exploring the connection between these two concepts and linking them to overall sustainability. The page also notes the importance of including the cost of natural capital into corporate decision-making, the same way a firm would account for machinery, for instance. 

  – Take a look here.

 

JOB LISTINGS


 

Summer Research Assistant

Forest Trends - Washington DC, USA


Forest Trends is an international not-for-profit environmental conservation organization based in Washington, D.C. that works to achieve sustainable forest management and conservation by capturing the value for ecosystem services, and expanding the value of forests and other natural ecosystems to society. We are seeking a research assistant to support Forest Trends' partnership with the Government of Peru to develop a strategy for achieving improved agricultural outputs alongside verified environmental conservation, specifically in support of achieving Peru's 2021 goal of achieving net zero deforestation. The research assistant will support the preparation of a report documenting business and finance models that have successfully engaged smallholder agricultural producers and resulted in improved livelihoods, agricultural outputs, and forest conservation. The report will draw on cases worldwide and will be analyzed to extract relevant lessons for the Peruvian context. The research assistant will work closely with experts from Forest Trends' Public-Private Co-Finance Initiative and partners in Peru to produce the report. The work will span approximately 3 months, from mid-May to mid-August. Exact start and end dates are flexible. This is a temporary full-time assignment.

  – Learn more here.

 

Senior Communications & Marketing Officer

Nexus - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Nexus exists to help organisations achieve climate change and development outcomes. We are based in Southeast Asia and collaborate with project developers and social entrepreneurs to maximize environmental and community benefits. We also work with partners around the world, creating innovative financial tools and connecting businesses with projects that are making a difference. For 2016 Nexus has a challenging communications and marketing strategy in which many new tools and channels will be delivered. Besides daily communication tasks, you will receive a lot of responsibility to independently coordinate new projects and propose new innovative communication and marketing ideas.

  – Learn more here.

 

Senior Consultant, Sustainability Supply Chain Risks

South Pole Group - London UK, Stockholm Sweden, or Berlin Germany

Based in London, Stockholm, or Berlin the senior consultant plan and manage consultancies addressing corporate sustainability and supply chain risk.  The successful candidate will have a degree in environmental sciences, environmental engineering, or agronomy and have 5 years of experience in project management and business development.

  – Learn more here.

 

Senior Consultant, Sustainable Investments

South Pole Group - London UK, Stockholm Sweden, or Berlin Germany

Based in London, Stokcholm, or Berlin, the Senior Consultant will plan, coordinate, and manage projects and consultancies related to sustainable investments, and liaison with clients. The successful candidate will have a degree in economics, finance, or a related discipline and at least five years of relevant work experience. Language skills in German, French, Spanish, and Scandanavian languages would be an advantage.

  – Learn more here.

 

Summer Internship Opportunities

Encourage Capital - New York NY, USA

Based in New York City, Encourage Capital is offering a number of internships in the summer of 2016 for students looking to explore the world of impact investing.  Internships are available in communications and marketing; financial inclusion; farmland investment; green carbon fund; Latin American sustainable seafood investment; REDD+ acceleration fund; sustainable infrastructure; and sustainable aquaculture.  Encourage Capital is an innovative investment firm that generates compelling financial returns and social and environmental impact for its investors.

  – Learn more here.

 

EVENTS


 

National Mitigation and Ecosystem Banking Conference

Headed to Texas in 2016, we invite you to join us at this incredible conference on mitigation, conservation & ecosystem banking! Entering its 19th year, this Conference is well established as a "must attend event" for those in ecosystem banking, offering sessions for the very advanced to those new to banking. Founded in 1997 with a diverse steering committee of leaders in the regulatory, banking and environmental community, this is the first - and only - National hands-on conference focused on mitigation, conservation and ecosystem banking to protect wetlands, endangered species and other natural resources. It is well known for bringing together key stakeholders to explore policy & practice, share successes and failures, and learn about trends, science and emerging markets. 10-13 May 2016. Fort Worth TX, USA.

  – Learn more here.

 

2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Council has selected Hawaii, United States of America, as the host of the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress - the world's largest conservation event. Held every four years, the Congress brings together leaders from government, the public sector, non-governmental organizations, business, UN agencies and indigenous and grass-roots organizations to discuss and decide on solutions to the world's most pressing environment and development challenges. 1-10 September 2016. Hawaii, USA.

  – Learn more here.

 

ACES 2016

ACES: A Community on Ecosystem Services represents a dynamic and growing assembly of professionals, researchers, and policy-makers involved with ecosystem services. The ACES 2016 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 2016 will bring together leaders in government, NGOs, academia, Native American tribes, 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. 5-9 December 2016. Jacksonville FL, USA.

  – Learn more here.

 

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