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People & Ecosystems

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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Building the Foundation for REDD+: Recommendations for Durban on Forest Monitoring

Though forests play an essential role in international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the development of systems to monitor deforestation and forest degradation has been slow. This is due to the demanding technical requirements and the large capacity gaps in many countries. Measuring and monitoring change on the ground and via satellite in a consistent way is no easy task.

Countries need to develop national measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) systems to monitor progress towards achieving REDD+ goals. Establishing procedures to do so would be a significant outcome of the UN climate negotiations in Durban. This task falls to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).

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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.

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Top Ten Counties Losing Forests to Development In The U.S. South

Today, WRI releases a new map that identifies the hotspots where urban and suburban development are putting forests at risk in the southern United States. Areas experiencing the most forest loss to development between 2001 and 2006 (the most recent years for which data are available) were counties near Houston, Atlanta, Raleigh, and Charlotte. Counties around San Antonio, Jacksonville, and Birmingham round out the “top ten” (Table 1).

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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.

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How Can We Create Jobs, Reduce Food Prices and Boost Economies?

The fate of heads of state across the globe is tied in large part to their ability to ensure employment, economic growth, and access to cheap food and clean water. Rising food prices have helped topple dictators across the Middle East. Europe, the United States, Japan and other major economies are spending trillions of dollars to restore growth and jobs.

Too often, efforts to address environmental challenges such as pollution, habitat loss and global warming are seen as in conflict with job creation, economic growth and development. Some have suggested that protecting forests will lead to scarcity of land for farming, exacerbating the rise in food prices.

While there are often trade offs, this is not always the case. Recent analysis by WRI’s team of experts, working with the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, has unveiled one of the greatest potential opportunities for combined economic and environmental gains.

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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.

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