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People & Ecosystems

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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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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"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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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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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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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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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.

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Water

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