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ecosystem services

Bringing Ecosystem Markets to Scale in the Southern United States

For the most part, Ecosystem Markets still linger in the early stages of development. There is much more theoretical work to be done to set up environmental credit markets, including carbon offsets and payments for watershed services. But more pilot projects can also help these markets evolve and show how they might work in the real world.

Development pressures in the U.S. South often mean that forests are worth more cut down than left standing. In the U.S. South alone, the U.S. Forest Service estimates that suburban encroachment will convert approximately 31 million acres (approximately 14 percent of 2010 southern forest area) of southern forests to development between 1992 and 2040.

Payments for Watershed Services: Pilot Projects for Watershed Protection

Forested watersheds of the southern United States provide numerous services to the region. At no cost, they purify water, control flooding and erosion, and provide places for people to relax and have fun. Yet despite their value, many watersheds are under threat from development and poor land management.

“Payments for Watershed Services” (PWS) programs are one strategy to keep watersheds healthy. Through a PWS program, landowners receive financial incentives to conserve, sustainably manage, and/or restore watersheds to yield the kinds of benefits described above.

How Businesses Can Integrate Ecosystem Services into Performance Systems

Over the past decade, more companies have recognized the value that healthy ecosystems provide to business. Proactive companies have started managing their connection to ecosystems in order to avoid being blindsided by unexpected risks arising from the degradation of ecosystems.

Today, many managers want to know how ecosystem service considerations can be integrated into business performance systems. This issue is addressed in the World Resources Institute’s new report, Nature in Performance, a guide that helps business managers incorporate ecosystem service considerations into environmental management systems, sustainability reporting, and other performance systems.

“Candidate Species” Marketplace Can Help Protect Gopher Tortoise Habitat

This piece was written with Josh Donlan and James Mulligan of Advanced Conservation Strategies.

Hundreds of imperiled wildlife species across the country are candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), yet landowners currently have very little financial incentive to protect them.

WRI’s new issue brief, Insights from the Field: Forests for Species and Habitat, released jointly with Advanced Conservation Strategies, details the insights from a pilot market-based initiative to conserve one such candidate species, the gopher tortoise, and the southern forests on which it relies. This pilot can serve as a model for conservation across the country, most notably for other ESA candidate species like the lesser prairie chicken and greater sage grouse (see box).

Insights from the Field: Forests for Species and Habitat

This issue brief reports on the mechanics of and lessons learned from a conservation incentive program focused on the gopher tortoise. Its aim is to inform the successful design and implementation of other candidate programs emerging throughout the southern forests and greater United States.

WRI Helps Launch First Eco-Audit of Mesoamerican Reef

This week, two of my colleagues, Ben Kushner and Lauretta Burke, travelled to Mexico and Belize, respectively, for the launch of a new multinational evaluation of reef management by governments, NGOs, and the private sector. The launch events took place in Belize City, Belize; Cancun, Mexico; Guatemala City, Guatemala; and Tegucigalpa, Honduras; and were the result of nine months of collaboration to develop indicators and gather data for this first-ever eco-audit of the Mesoamerican Reef.

The Mesoamerican Reef, the largest reef in the Atlantic Ocean, is home to over 500 species of fish and harkens back over 225 million years. The research included input from more than 40 organizations and 100 people. WRI provided technical assistance to the Healthy Reefs Initiative and local partners.

Re-introducing the Corporate Ecosystem Services Review, Version 2.0

The World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) are pleased to announce the release of the Corporate Ecosystem Services Review Version 2.0, an updated guidance document and set of resources to help business managers develop ecosystem-related strategies.

Companies depend on and impact the services that healthy ecosystems provide such as freshwater, wood, water purification, carbon sequestration, pollination and natural hazard protection. Degradation of these “ecosystem services,” therefore, can pose a number of risks to corporate performance, as well as create new business opportunities. Making the connection between the health of ecosystems and the business bottom line is essential – but how?

Nature in Performance

Integrating Ecosystem Services into Business Performance Systems

This report discusses ways in which companies can incorporate considerations of ecosystem services into business performance systems such as corporate strategy development procedures, product design guidelines, environmental impact assessments, and sustainability reporting.

The Corporate Ecosystem Services Review

Guidelines for Identifying Business Risks & Opportunities Arising from Ecosystem Change

This report is a structured methodology that helps managers proactively develop strategies to manage business risks and opportunities arising from their company’s dependence and impact on ecosystems. This is version 2.0 of the report, which was originally published in 2008.

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