Recent news reports from Texas to Jamaica to the Bahamas have documented the rapid spread of the lionfish—an invasive marine species. Lionfish have quickly become established across the waters of the southeastern U.S. and the Caribbean. New sightings abound—earlier this month lionfish reached the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. Because of their role in upsetting the ecological balance of coral reef ecosystems, the rapid growth in the populations of these fish poses a grave threat to the region’s coral reefs. Consequently, the region’s fishing and tourism industries, which depend on coral reefs, may also be at risk. Governments across the region are trying to respond to the lionfish invasion by developing new campaigns and cooperation strategies that could pose important lessons for how to deal with invasive marine species in the future.
People & Ecosystems
Recently, in the New York Times Green Column, Bettina Wassener wrote about the “Plastic Disclosure Project,” which annually surveys industry on their overall plastic use and reports back on consumption trends. The goal of the project is to raise awareness about plastic consumption, create a “plastic footprint” akin to a carbon footprint for business, and hopefully motivate industry to change their consumption habits.
This innovative idea is just one example of the movement towards “Green Industry,” a term which recognizes that in a world of increasing resource scarcity, climate change, pollution, and depletion of natural capital, economic growth must rely on clean and efficient production processes. But what exactly is “Green industry”? More importantly, given the wide variety of creative and green solutions available, how can national governments foster Green Industry to save natural resources?
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.
”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.
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.
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.
For many of us, the term “ecosystems” conjures up thoughts of environmental protection and restoration. While that is one part of the picture, this view misses the critical role that ecosystems also play in underpinning economies and the business sector. Ecosystem services—- the benefits that businesses and people derive from nature such as food, freshwater, pollination, and climate regulation— are the link between nature and economic development. This viewpoint enables governments and corporate leaders to move beyond a narrow mindset of protecting nature from economic development to focus on how to invest in nature for development.
Today, WRI and the WBCSD release an update to the guide “Sustainable Procurement of Wood and Paper-Based Products.” The guide is meant to help company managers—who are charged with making large purchases of wood and paper products but may not have the time or the knowledge to navigate all the different resources— as they develop and implement their procurement policies.
We have updated the sections on legality and the listing of useful resources, which we call the “guide to the guides." The 12 resources that we highlighted when the guide was first published three years ago have now increased to 47. Resources include publications, projects, rating systems, procurement policies that help people develop and implement forest procurement policies.
2011 will be an important year for the Chesapeake Bay, not only because scientists are predicting an unusually bad “dead zone” this summer.
Last December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) that establish the amount of nutrient and sediment pollution that the Bay and its tidal tributaries can safely receive each year. The TMDLs divide the pollution loads among sources, such as urban areas regulated for stormwater runoff, wastewater treatment plants, and agricultural lands.
Now, responsibility for implementing the TMDLs falls to states in the Bay watershed that have been delegated authority from EPA to run water quality programs. By December 1, 2011, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia will submit plans to EPA that explain how sources within their jurisdiction will meet and maintain the TMDLs.
The December deadline has states reviewing legislation and regulations that could reduce the amount of nutrient and sediment pollution that impairs Bay water bodies.
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.