For many of us, the term “ecosystems” conjures up thoughts of environmental protection and restoration. While that is one part of the picture, this view misses the critical role that ecosystems also play in underpinning economies and the business sector. Ecosystem services—- the benefits that businesses and people derive from nature such as food, freshwater, pollination, and climate regulation— are the link between nature and economic development. This viewpoint enables governments and corporate leaders to move beyond a narrow mindset of protecting nature from economic development to focus on how to invest in nature for development.
2011 will be an important year for the Chesapeake Bay, not only because scientists are predicting an unusually bad “dead zone” this summer.
Last December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) that establish the amount of nutrient and sediment pollution that the Bay and its tidal tributaries can safely receive each year. The TMDLs divide the pollution loads among sources, such as urban areas regulated for stormwater runoff, wastewater treatment plants, and agricultural lands.
Now, responsibility for implementing the TMDLs falls to states in the Bay watershed that have been delegated authority from EPA to run water quality programs. By December 1, 2011, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia will submit plans to EPA that explain how sources within their jurisdiction will meet and maintain the TMDLs.
The December deadline has states reviewing legislation and regulations that could reduce the amount of nutrient and sediment pollution that impairs Bay water bodies.
Update [10/17/2011]: WRI has released the latest edition of Climate Science.
New research shows that Africa offers some of the greatest opportunities globally for restoring forests.
Nearly 450 million hectares of degraded forest landscapes — an area the size of the European Union — offer opportunities for restoration in Africa, more than in any other continent
This piece originally appeared in The Guardian.
Trees are being cut down for farming, but a new study shows that a lot of land already cleared could be used instead.
"We are one shock away from a full-blown crisis," stated Robert Zoellick, the president of the World Bank, at a recent meeting of the bank and the IMF. He was referring to a critical increase in poverty, resulting from the escalating cost of food. The UN's food price index has risen 37% since March 2010. Basic cereal prices are up 60% over this period. Wheat is up 63%, and maize 83%.
This piece originally appeared in the Washington Post Environmental Leadership supplement on April 20, 2011, and is reposted with permission.
With large-scale agricultural investments on the rise, the rights of local people must be protected.
Proposed Accounting and Reporting Steps
This paper suggests greenhouse gas accounting and reporting procedures for the agricultural sector, based on the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard.
WRI President Jonathan Lash previews the key environmental issues to watch in 2011.