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ecosystem services

Carbon Canopy Initiative Aims to Sustain Appalachian Forests for Climate and Certified Timber

While much has been written from a theoretical perspective about markets for ecosystem services, few on-the-ground projects currently exist. Yet the projects that do exist provide one of the best windows onto what actually works in practice. That’s why WRI has issued a new brief, Insights from the Field: Forests for Climate and Timber to discuss an innovative initiative called the Carbon Canopy.

Ecosystem Services and the New IFC Performance Standards

Today the World Resources Institute released Ecosystem Services Review for Impact Assessment: Introduction and Guide to Scoping, the first of two Working Papers presenting a new methodology to help incorporate ecosystem services into impact assessment.

On January 1, 2012, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) will begin requiring client projects to “maintain the benefits from ecosystem services.” For example, a project draining wetlands would have to examine its impact not only in terms of biodiversity loss, but also in terms of the loss of pollination services for surrounding farmers and loss of fish breeding and nursery grounds for fishermen.

Seven Billion: The Real Population Scare is Not What You Think

If you believe the doomsday merchants, the scariest thing about this Halloween is the fact that the world's population will pass seven billion on or near October 31.

Population growth, however, is not the biggest skeleton in the closet when it comes to our planet's ability to absorb human impact. Far more damaging than the booming birth rate in low income countries are the resource-intensive lifestyles of the global rich and middle class.

A New Approach to Feeding the World

This piece originally appeared in The Solutions Journal

Can the current food production system feed a growing population in a changing climate while sustaining ecosystems? The answer is an emphatic “no.”

A new approach is imperative and overdue, one in which the world feeds more people—an estimated 9 billion by 2050—with less ecological impact. To be successful, this new approach must address both how we produce and how we use food.

Conservation Easements: a Good Investment for the U.S. South

With forests being converted at a rapid pace in the South, conservation easements are one of the most promising approaches to conserve and sustainably manage them. A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement in which a landowner agrees to sell or donate the development rights to his or her land. In contrast to some traditional approaches to forest conservation, conservation easements can prevent forest loss while still allowing landowners to own their land. This has made conservation easements an increasingly popular land conservation tool in the United States. While the use of conservation easements continues to grow nationally, adoption lags behind in the South (Figure 1).

WRI’s new issue brief, “Gaining Ground: Increasing Conservation Easements in the U.S. South,” released today jointly with the American Forest Foundation, aims to increase the use of conservation easements in the South by helping landowners, conservation professionals, and conservation funders understand the unique benefits that conservation easements provide, key barriers to their implementation, and how to best address those barriers.

The Forest Company of the Future

This story originally appeared in the Guardian.

Over the past 150 years, industrialization has taken its toll. All-too-often, forests have been sacrificed in the face of expanding business and national interests. In the future, forests can act as a backbone of a sustainable economy by providing a multitude of renewable goods and services. The successful forest companies of the future will recognize this opportunity, use it to advance their own bottom line, and help ensure that forests survive and thrive.

How to Reduce Your Coral Reef Footprint

”Reeling Reefs,” a feature story in the August 15th issue of American Way magazine, showcases Reefs at Risk Revisited, WRI’s map-based global assessment of current and future threats to coral reefs. The article also shows how people in the Dominican Republic and Fiji are working to protect coral reefs and promote human well-being. Below we highlight why coral reefs are important to human society, how they are threatened, and what you can do to reduce your reef footprint and help save coral reefs.

Feeding a Growing Population that Relies on Ecosystem Services (Part II of II)

This piece was originally posted on www.environmentalleader.com, and was written by Amanda DeSantis, DuPont, and Janet Ranganathan, WRI. This is the second in a two-part series. Read part I here.

The future of farming, food supply, and protection of natural resources are utterly interdependent.

While all economic sectors depend to some degree on ecosystem services, agriculture has the most intimate relationship with nature. Agriculture depends on healthy ecosystems for services such as pollination for nearly 75% of the world’s crop species, freshwater, erosion control, and climate and water regulation. It also employs 40% of global population and about 70% at the base of the pyramid.

Ecosystem Markets Conference: Innovative Ideas Drive Ecosystem Markets Forward

Using markets to protect and restore ecosystems – and the many services they provide – is gradually becoming a reality. Market-based systems have already protected hundreds of thousands of acres of land while still meeting human economic and development needs. They can help ensure that environmental benefits, from wildlife habitat to water purification, will be preserved for future generations.

But what are the critical elements for success? What progress has been made? What are the innovative ideas that will push these markets forward? The World Resources Institute and the American Forest Foundation recently convened some of the world’s leading experts on ecosystem markets in Madison, Wisconsin to address these questions.

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