As the challenge of global climate change intensifies, environmentalists have called for redoubled efforts to preserve forests and ecosystems that are critical in balancing greenhouse gas emissions. A new book published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy spells out innovative ways to finance that conservation.
Conservation Capital in the Americas: Exemplary Conservation Finance Initiatives, edited by James N. Levitt, is based on a conference held in January 2009 in Chile attended by more than 100 conservationists and policy makers, to consider methods to find financial capital – as well as human, social, and natural capital – to steward the earth’s resources for future generations. The attendees included senior executives of global conservation groups that had completed transactions protecting hundreds of thousands of hectares, as well as first-year college students. The location of the conference in Chile was in part due to that country’s ambitious program of land conservation involving public-private partnerships, incentives, and a legal framework undergirding financing mechanisms.
“The need to conserve land and preserve the planet’s natural resources is as pressing an issue as any we face today as a global community,” writes Paul E. Simons, U.S. Ambassador to Chile, in the foreword to the book.
The contributors to Conservation Capital in the Americas include some of the leading thinkers on conservation finance in the world, who asked: Where do we find the money, the talent, and the political will to do the jobs necessary to address complex threats to ecosystems that provide a spectrum of essential services that sustain life?
The answers were neither simple nor uniform. “Carefully crafted solutions will need to fit a dizzying array of local land ownership patterns, political contexts, and economic conditions,” said Levitt, director of the Program on Conservation Innovation at the Harvard Forest, Harvard University, and a research fellow at the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School. “The good news is that new approaches to conservation finance, from the art of conservation deal-making to the practice of sustainable development, are being invented and implemented around the world every day,” Levitt said.
Conservation Capital in the Americas provides case studies in pairs, from North America and Latin America, for each of seven topics:
* Conservation efforts in Chile and New England; tax-related initiatives in Massachusetts (the Community Preservation Act) and in Chile (the Private Lands Conservation Initiative)
* Financing conservation through limited development, including the Caral archeological site and Supe Valley restoration
* Financing sustainable development, including a case study of specialized markets for certified non-timber forest products, and conservation finance in the Galápagos Islands
* Conservation investment banking, with a case study on the Valdivian (Chile) Coastal Reserve, and lessons from a conservation lender
* Carbon-related ecosystem services, with case studies on Ecuador ChoCO2 Conservation Carbon Project: Conservation International and the Van Eck Forest as example of carbon markets and a new economic paradigm for forest sustainability
* Noncarbon ecosystem services, with case studies on reclaiming the Great Dismal Swamp and working with landowners to provide ecosystem services in Costa Rica.
This book is published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, in collaboration with the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School, the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, and Island Press.