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This Week In Biodiversity: Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Teeters Between Cooperation And Conflict

Ben Dappen

Greater sage-grouses living in the US West received good news with Colorado announcing new voluntary conservation measures and the Bureau of Land Management rolling out landscape-level protection strategies. However, a new funding bill in the Senate aims to block a listing decison for another year. And on a separate note, Brazil passed a law granting easier access to Amazonia’s natural resources.

Greater sage-grouses living in the US West received good news with Colorado announcing new voluntary conservation measures and the Bureau of Land Management rolling out landscape-level protection strategies. However, a new funding bill in the Senate aims to block a listing decison for another year. And on a separate note, Brazil passed a law granting easier access to Amazonia’s natural resources.

This article was originally posted in the Mit Mail newsletter. Click here to read the original.

22 June 2015 | Greetings! On the US plains, the spring mating season for the Greater Sage-Grouse is winding down. Meanwhile, the humans sharing turf with the grouse can’t decide whether to make love or war over the bird.

An order by Colorado governor John Hickenlooper to establish a sage-grouse habitat exchange represents hope that cooperation will be enough to keep the bird off the Endangered Species List. Members of Congress are being a little more bellicose, with a proposed military bill that would block listing of the bird on national security grounds and a rider in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s new funding bill for the Department of the Interior and Environmental Protection Agency that blocks a decision on sage-grouse listing (currently scheduled for September) for another year.

 

Meanwhile, ten Western states have developed resource management plans (RMPs), creating high quality, science-based conservation in sagebrush ecosystems. In late May, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in partnership with the US Forest Service (USFS) rolled out their amendments. Following a three-month review process, the finalized plans will serve as governing guides for sagebrush ecosystems that fall on BLM and USFS lands.


“The RMPs require mitigation, which is a key piece of developing the market demand needed for conservation banking,” Theo Stein of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) tells Ecosystem Marketplace. Conservation banks for the greater sage-grouse are already starting to appear in Wyoming and Nevada, a sign that the ‘cooperation’ camp may be winning. As summer heats up, may the cooler heads (and workable solutions) prevail.

 

Last month also saw passage of a controversial law in Brazil allowing businesses easier access to Amazonia’s natural resources, even in indigenous areas, and cancelling $70 million in “bio-piracy” violations for a state-owned agriculture research firm. The government’s brushed off worries about fair compensation for indigenous people. India, meanwhile, has a law on the books requiring companies making use of biological resources for pharmaceuticals and other products to pay a biodiversity fee. But as the Hindu reports, the law is largely ignored.

 

We’re hiring! Ecosystem Marketplace’s Supply Change project, which tracks corporate commitments to reduce ecological impacts in commodity supply chains, needs a research assistant. Click the link to learn more and apply.

 

Cheers,

—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

 

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

 

Mixed Initial Responses To Final US Clean Water Rule

The US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers finalized their Clean Water Rule in late May. First impressions of the rule, meant to protect US waterways from various sources of pollution through clearer definitions of which wetlands and streams are covered under the Clean Water Act, are mixed.

EM has coverage.

 

Market-Based Species Conservation Gets Boost From US Gov Land Management Plans

The US Bureau of Land Management late last month released its final environmental reviews of land-use plans containing greater sage-grouse habitat. As the plans make use of compensatory mitigation, those in the mitigation space are viewing the strategy as a potential driver to increase demand for market mechanisms like habitat exchanges and conservation banks.

Keep reading here.

 

Opinion: Rivaling Gold – Ecological Assets Outperform Traditional Commodities

After completing a price trend comparison between environmental products and traditional commodities, a long-time analyst of ecosystem markets says compensatory credits for wetland and species conservation are outperforming commodities like corn and farmland and even gold – giving a more literal meaning to the term ‘green gold.’

Read it here.

 

Brazilian Ecosystem Services Matrix Brings Transparency To Environmental Finance

Brazil is not only a hotbed of ecosystem services, it’s also testing grounds for the market-like payments for ecosystem services approach to conserve and manage these natural services. And now, a new initiative launching this month provides a comprehensive way to track, understand and scale these programs using an interactive mapping and database system.

Learn more here.

 

REDD+ And Green Supply Chains: The Yin And Yang Of Saving Forests

Companies worth more than $4 trillion have promised to reduce their impact on the world’s forests, and more than one-third of the new pledges came just last year, which more than doubled 2013’s total. Now comes the hard part: keeping those promises honest, and helping smaller suppliers adjust to the new demand. Here’s how public finance for forest protection can help.

Get the full story from Ecosystem Marketplace.

Queensland’s Offset Program: Waste of Time or Valuable Mitigation?

Australia’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection in Queensland is promoting an environmental offsets program that would generate a revenue stream for landowners willing to conserve parcels of land on their property, which will serve as mitigation for development impacts. However, the offset has to deliver a net-benefit to the environment – and ranchers remain skeptical the program will amount to anything.

ABC News has coverage.

 

US Nearing Peak Sage-Grouse Mania

Last month Colorado governor John Hickenlooper ordered the state to establish a habitat exchange to buy and sell conservation credits for the Greater Sage-Grouse, a move designed to stave off federal intervention to protect the bird through an Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing.

 

Meanwhile in Washington, an alternative strategy to keep the Greater Sage-Grouse off the ESA – a $612 billion military bill that would block listing of the bird on national security grounds – has given Congress something new to fight over.

Read more from the Pueblo Chieftain about Colorado’s habitat exchange.
The New York Times has coverage of the sage-grouse fight in Washington.

 

Wolfensohn and Eko Asset Announce Merger

Wolfensohn Fund Management, a private equity fund focusing on developing-world finance and clean energy founded by former World Bank president James Wolfensohn, recently announced a merger with environmental markets investment management and advisory firm Eko Asset Management Partners. The new firm, dubbed Encourage Capital, aims to make the most of growing interest among high-net worth individuals in impact investment. Adam Wolfensohn and Jason Scott will serve as co-managing partners and Ricardo Bayon as chief impact and innovation officer.

Bloomberg has the story.

 

A Permitting System to Keep the Land and Sky Safer for Birds

After a year of consideration, the US Fish and Wildlife Service released a notice of intent to create a permitting system for unintentional bird kills related to development. As birds are often killed when they collide with power lines or land in oil and gas operations, the FWS says a permitting system could create a regulatory mechanism that delivers meaningful compensatory mitigation after impacts have been avoided or minimized.

Read more at E&E News.

 

EU Designs Biodiversity Offset System for Continental Use

Biodiversity offsetting is considered a necessary part of the European Union’s biodiversity strategy and recently, the International Conservation Fund, in association with experts and another conservation organization, published a report highlighting proper design and implementation measures for offsets. The study noted flexibility as key while identifying the maintenance of long-term benefits as critical.

Learn more here.

 

Can Biodiversity and Mining Co-Exist in Namibia?

Because the central portion of the Namib Desert in Namibia is rich in both uranium and biodiversity, several stakeholders collaborated to form the Strategic Environmental Management Plan, a public-private initiative aimed at coexistence between the development and conservation needs of the region.

All Africa has coverage.

 

New Law Opens Brazilian Amazon… to What?

Brazil’s president passed a controversial bill into law allowing businesses easier access to Amazonia’s natural resources, even in indigenous areas, and cancelling $70 million in “bio-piracy” violations for a state-owned agriculture research firm. The government, however, claims the law simply intends to promote development and indigenous people will be compensated fairly.

The Latin American Herald-Tribune has the story.

 

Biodiversity Fees Go Unpaid in India

Few companies are complying with national Biodiversity Act requirements that companies or individuals pay a fee for use of biological resources, according to the Hindu. The state-level Telangana State Biodiversity Board has issued more than a thousand notices but signed only two agreements with companies agreeing to pay biodiversity fees. The Gujarat Board has had slightly better luck, with 47 agreements signed.

Learn more at the Hindu.

 

Asking for the Right Kind of Biodiversity Offset in Britain

Two papers out of Britain note the key role biodiversity offsets could play in reconciling natural resource development with conservation, but also emphasize the absolute necessity that they are implemented correctly in a transparent process grounded in science. One study highlights potential risks of an offsets program lacking in these qualities.

Read the papers here.

 

US Wildlife Experiences Connectivity Issues

Large public lands designated for conservation like national parks are an important part of conserving biodiversity but they aren’t enough, according to two recent studies. Current conditions are too small and fragmented, report authors say, while what is needed are large conservation corridors that link ecosystems together allowing wildlife to flourish.

Get details here.

 

Ecosystem Services: The Secret to Low-Cost Farming?

New research found enhancing ecosystem services, like natural pest control and soil health maintenance, in agriculture operations can reduce farming costs with payments for ecosystem services schemes playing a role in making this shift to sustainable agriculture systems and enabling farmers to maintain such systems.

Learn more at the Huffington Post.

 

Scaling Up Fisheries Certification

A new report from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) examines barriers to scaling up Marine Stewardship Council certification in the developing world. It’s a significant challenge: only 8% of currently certified fisheries are in developing countries, and an even smaller share of small-scale fisheries are certified.

Learn more and download the report here.

 

JOBS

 

 

Supply Change Research Assistant

Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace – 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. The Ecosystem Marketplace is an initiative of Forest Trends that works to link practitioners and decision-makers and advises companies, governments and other NGOs on voluntary carbon/forest carbon market developments, transparency, social and environmental co-benefits and other mechanisms.

 

We are seeking a research assistant for the Supply Change project. As companies commit to reduce the ecological impacts of their commodity supply chains, Supply Change provides transparency to their progress – and tracks commitments that count. The Supply Change project is a transformational resource for businesses, investors, governments, and the civil society organizations that support and hold them accountable; providing real-time information on the extent and value of commitment-driven commodity production and demand.

 

Initially, the work will span a 3-month period, with potential for extension for an additional three months. This is a temporary full-time assignment.

Learn more here.

 

Sustainable Investing Associate

World Resources Institute – Washington DC, USA

The Associate II will lead development of a sustainable investment research agenda for WRI and partner with WRI’s CFO to implement the WRI endowment sustainable investment strategy. While the position is a short-term position, the ambition is that the Associate will have created a robust strategy with an associated fundraising plan that would enable conversion to a full-time permanent position. WRI’s Sustainable Finance Center works with public and private financing institutions, investors, governments, civil society, businesses, and project developers to increase the volume of capital flowing to sustainable activities in developing countries by redirecting investments away from unsustainable activities. To achieve this vision both public and private actors will need to leverage each other’s capital and competencies and, more importantly, find common ground that results in financial flows moving towards sustainable activities and away from environmentally and socially harmful activities.

Learn more here.

 

Blue Carbon Intern

Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs – Massachusetts, USA

The Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program (MassBays) seeks an intern with strong organizational, research, and writing skills to contribute to a joint project to quantify carbon sequestration potential of eelgrass in Massachusetts near-shore habitats. The project is led by MassBays; partners include the Office of Coastal Zone Management, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Region 1, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s SeaGrant Program, and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. The intern will have the following responsibilities:

 

  • Complete a literature review on blue carbon/carbon sequestration and seagrass. This review will include the identification and compilation of peer-reviewed literature on the topic matter.
  • Complete a review of historical records of eelgrass distribution in Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay. Sources of information include nautical charts, peer-reviewed literature, gray literature, state shellfish reports, aerial photographs, local knowledge, and other sources as available and relevant.
  • Assist in field collection of samples and site visits for sea level rise analysis. Intern will visit one or more sites in Gloucester, Nahant, Cohasset, and Sandwich.

Learn more here.

 

EVENTS

 

 

ICCB-ECCB 2015

The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) is proud to team up for the first time with Agropolis international and the French Foundation for Research on Biodiversity (FRB) to host the 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB) and the 4th European Congress for Conservation Biology (ECCB). The joint meeting brings together our international community of conservation professionals to address conservation challenges and present new findings, initiatives, methods, tools and opportunities in conservation science and practice. It’s also a marvelous opportunity to welcome scientists and conservationists from around the world to Europe. Scientists, students, managers, decision-makers, writers, and other conservation professionals across the globe are invited to participate in this event. 2-6 August 2015. Montpellier, France.

Learn more here.

 

6th SER World Conference on Ecological Restoration

SER 2015 in Manchester aims to be the major restoration event of the year. Building on recent successful world congresses and regional meetings such as SER Europe 2013 in Finland, we hope to attract a large number of academics and practitioners who will share good practice and network successfully in one of the homes of the industrial revolution. The title: “Towards resilient ecosystems: restoring the urban, the rural and the wild” should provide something for everyone, whether working in highly urbanised, ex-agricultural, or natural wild environments. We mean this conference to be as inclusive as possible and are keen to showcase not only the important scientific developments, issues and solutions, but also the cultural, educational and artistic aspects of restoration ecology. We are hosting a wide range of different types of events during the conference period, with pre-conference training workshops, conference symposia posters, workshops, and oral presentations, as well as half day field trips to see landscapes at first hand. 23-27 August 2015. Manchester, United Kingdom.

Learn more here.

 

SOCAP 15

We are a network of heart-centered investors, entrepreneurs, and social impact leaders who believe in an inclusive and socially responsible economy to address the world’s toughest challenges. Since 2008, SOCAP has created a platform where social impact leaders can connect and present their ideas to a global audience. Our annual flagship event in San Francisco is the largest conference for impact investors and social entrepreneurs and has drawn more than 10,000 people. 6-9 October 2015. San Francisco CA, USA.

Learn more here.

 

8th ESP World Conference

The Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) is a worldwide network, founded in 2008, to enhance the science and practical application of ecosystem services. To facilitate the needed dialogue between scientists, policy makers and practitioners ESP organises an annual international conference in different parts of the world. The central theme is ‘Ecosystem Services for Nature, People and Prosperity’. The conference will pay special attention to the public and private sector dialogue on how the ecosystem services concept can be used to support conservation, improve livelihoods and engage the business community. 9-13 November 2015. Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Learn more here.

Additional resources
Ben Dappen has worked with Forest Trends since November 2000 as Webmaster and IT Associate, and also provides design and publishing support. He also serves as a web developer for a number of Forest Trends' partners, including the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and Ecoagriculture Partners. Ben graduated from Reed College in 2004 with a History degree.

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