Have you seen the brilliant crimson and amber of fall foliage in New England? Every year our trees make tourists and natives alike stop and stare in amazement as our region’s forests put on a final show in preparation for winter. But our vibrant forests are at risk. New Englanders are losing 65 acres of forest per day, or 24,000 acres per year, to dispersed and fragmented residential and commercial development. If this trend continues, the region will lose another 1.2 million acres — an area nearly twice the size of Rhode Island — over the next 50 years. And it is not just the fall fireworks that we stand to lose.
How might the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) better leverage private capital to support its mission? Could certain conservation practices generate financial returns and attract investment? In this interview, Ricardo Bayon and Alex Eidson, a partner and an analyst at Encourage Capital, share insight and ideas from their new report, “NRCS and Investment Capital: Investing in America Together.” This is the second article of a two-part series.
How might the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) better leverage private capital to support its mission? Could certain conservation practices generate financial returns and attract investment? In this interview, Ricardo Bayon and Alex Eidson, a partner and an analyst at Encourage Capital, share insight and ideas from their new report, “NRCS and Investment Capital: Investing in America Together.” This is the first article in a two-part series.
Funneling money toward forest conservation in the developing world may sound easier than it is. Once one gets into the weeds of implementing sustainable-forestry-finance frameworks like REDD+ at an international level, the challenges of climate finance come to the surface. This year, the game plan is changing to expand this financing space. United States nonprofits and investors will have new opportunities to help rainforest conservation flourish.
What if the development of these approaches could be responsibly accelerated? What if we could shorten the time it takes for environmental markets and investment vehicles to be defined, piloted, scaled, and matured—without cutting corners? The Conservation Finance Network’s recent report, “Private Capital and Working Lands Conservation: A Market Development Framework,” responds to these questions by translating practitioner insight into a framework and common language in the hope of speeding solutions to market development. The report attempts to describe how stakeholders could better delineate their roles and focus their money and authority. It is meant to help stakeholders set realistic goals, expectations, and timeframes to see more capital deployed faster.
Ecotourism is beginning to catch the eye of private investors and other funders who are interested in financing sustainable development, land rehabilitation, wildlife reintroduction, and/or conservation research. Examples from Africa show how ecotourism can synergistically build support for these goals.
The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) January 2017 report “Beyond the Source: the Environmental, Economic and Community Benefits of Source Water Protection” highlights water funds as a strategy for urban source water protection. 40 percent of source watersheds around the world show high-to-moderate levels of degradation. This can put water and food security at risk and negatively impact economic growth.
Conservation professionals have a challenging path ahead, but resilience finance makes it easier. Out of the carnage that Hurricane Andrew caused in 1992, a market for catastrophe (‘cat’) bonds was born. While ordinary bonds pay buyers interest to cover the risk of default by the issuer, cat bonds compensate buyers with higher interest rates for taking on the risk of extreme events. In the event that disaster hits, investors lose their principal.
In 2018, the Farm Bill will be up for renewal. It will shape the future of federal conservation finance. The bill, initially enacted in 1933, is the defining legislation on agricultural law in the United States. A number of organizations, including Environmental Defense Fund, actively work to find ways to maximize environmental gains that can be made through its policies.
Since 2000, residents of San Antonio, Texas have voted four times to approve ballot measures setting aside a portion of local sales-tax revenue for the city’s Edwards Aquifer Protection Program. The Nature Conservancy’s January report “Beyond the Source: The Environmental, Economic and Community Benefits of Source Water Protection” showcases San Antonio’s program as an example of a publicly financed water fund. Water funds are institutional platforms that connect upstream and downstream users through the financing, governance and management of source water protection.
How do investment funds build social and environmental priorities into agricultural financing? Several investment funds showcased their strategies for investing in smallholder value chains at the Global Landscapes Forum in Paris on Dec. 5-6. While continuing to seek financial returns, investors are supporting and measuring a broader set of environmental, social, and commodity-based outcomes tied to supply chain sustainability.
As conservation finance gains more traction among mainstream investors, discussions about how to evolve early-stage environmental marketplaces to provide more conventional investment opportunities have taken over the halls of conferences. Integrated capital funds may offer one solution.
There has long been a perceived tradeoff between the economic benefits of agriculture and the environmental benefits of conservation. Large-scale implementation of climate-smart agriculture holds promise to harmonize these objectives by integrating crop production with conservation efforts.
The White House has issued a directive to point federal agencies toward building ecosystem-services valuation into their plans, investments and regulations. This directive, released on Oct. 7, will help agencies synthesize conservation’s ecosystem benefits with its value to society.
A new forum has emerged for discussing key issues in the rapidly growing and evolving conservation finance field: the Conservation Finance Practitioner Roundtable. The group met for the first time on Jan. 20 at the New York Academy of Sciences in New York City.