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People & Ecosystems

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  • Blog post

    Payments for Ecosystem Services: Green is the New Grey

    This piece was originally posted on the Ecosystem Services for Policy Alleviation website, and was written with WRI intern Julie Edmonds.

    In these times of budget constraints, municipal authorities, donors and development NGOs are increasingly looking to services provided by nature as a less costly alternative to building expensive man-made infrastructure.

    Such services, also known as ecosystem services, are the positive externalities that ecosystems such as forests, floodplains and wetlands provide for communities around them.

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  • Blog post

    In India, Enhancing Ecosystems is Not Only Good for Nature—It’s Good for Business

    This piece originally appeared in the India Business Council for Sustainable Development quarterly magazine, Volume 8, Issue 2, in July 2011.

    In August of 2010, the Indian electricity company Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVN) lost its source of power in Himachal Pradesh. Deforestation and river alterations upstream of the company’s dam had aggravated erosion in the area. Without the trees, heavy rains washed an unprecedented amount of sediment straight into the water, lowering dam reservoir capacity and power output. The resulting 22 days of closure for the facility left millions of people without power and cost the company upwards of $42 million, or INR. 198 Crore.

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  • Blog post

    2011 Ecosystem Markets Conference: Innovating Ways to Reward Conservation

    Wisconsin is a state blessed with abundant natural beauty and was home to one of America’s first conservationists, Aldo Leopold. Leopold recognized that beyond commodities, nature provides services that sustain our planet – such as clean air, clean water and recreational opportunities – and that these services are worth something. He also recognized the importance of providing incentives that reward proper land management. Leopold’s vision still resonates as the 4th annual Ecosystem Markets Conference takes place this week in Madison, Wisconsin.

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  • Blog post

    "Shocking" New Report Confirms Threats to World's Oceans and Reefs

    A new report on the state of the world’s oceans is gaining considerable attention this week. The report by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature warns that combined threats to oceans are creating conditions where there is “a high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history.” Dr. Alex Rogers, scientific director of the IPSO, calls the new findings “shocking.”

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  • Blog post

    Improved Internet Access Brings Better Mapping and Spatial Data to Kenya

    Spatial information – including where different populations live and where natural resources are located – is essential for sound development planning and decision-making. A new website launched today, Virtual Kenya, opens up a wealth of maps and spatial data about the country for citizens and students to use.

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  • Charts & Graphs
  • Blog post

    Restoring the World's Forests While Feeding the Poor

    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%.

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  • Blog post

    Case for Saving Coral Reefs is Economic as Well as Conservational

    Destroying reefs via the 'one-two' of climate change and locally unregulated fishing will hit the economies of dozens of countries.

    This piece originally appeared on The Guardian.

    People around the world enjoy coral reefs as places of recreation and wonder. But few appreciate that reefs are also an economic pillar for many countries.

    Take, for example, the Caribbean nation of Belize. A recent analysis by several of my colleagues concluded that the country's coral reefs contribute the equivalent to 10 to 15 per cent of the nation's GDP, primarily through tourism and fisheries. Likewise, the avoided damage to buildings and infrastructure that reefs provide by serving as a "speed bump" for tropical storms equates to the same GDP percentage.

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  • Charts & Graphs
  • Presentation

    Reefs at Risk Revisited

    On Wednesday, February 23, 2011, WRI and more than 25 partners launched Reefs at Risk Revisited, a comprehensive analysis of the threats to coral reefs.

    presentation
    Water

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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.

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New Study Highlights Opportunities and Challenges for Indonesia Forest Moratorium

Today WRI releases a working paper that provides new information about Indonesia’s moratorium on new forest concessions. Our analysis concludes that the moratorium alone does not significantly contribute to Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goal of 26 percent by 2020.

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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.

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“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).

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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.

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New Study Highlights Opportunities, and Challenges, for Indonesia Forest

Today WRI releases a working paper that provides new information about Indonesia’s moratorium on new forest concessions. Our analysis concludes that the moratorium alone does not significantly contribute to Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goal of 26 percent by 2020. However, the moratorium does support these goals in the long-term by “pausing” business-as-usual patterns to allow time for needed governance reforms.

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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?

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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.

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Stories to Watch in 2012: U.S., China, Food, Renewable Energy, Rio+20

What are the top environmental and development issues that will shape 2012? This morning, I presented the World Resources Institute’s 9th annual “Stories to Watch” at the National Press Club. While we can’t predict the future, here’s a rundown of the key issues to keep an eye on:

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