It’s been a busy year already at Earth Economics! We’ve attended a number of conferences and events, worked on projects from Alaska to Central America, and seen a lot of exciting developments in our work. Natural capital is increasingly becoming a part of the conversation as agencies like FEMA and HUD begin to incorporate ecosystem services, and we are excited to engage in these efforts to account for nature. Take a look at our 2016 program highlights so far.
In cooperation with the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, Earth Economics is embarking on a new project focused on Colorado's South Platte River Watershed in collaboration with the Ecosystem Sciences Foundation and Plan-It Geo. The project will assess the watershed’s ecological health with the aim of identifying and prioritizing restoration and conservation areas.
In an effort to spark investment in sustainable agriculture, Earth Economics is embarking on an agriculture-focused valuation project in collaboration with Farmland LP and the Delta Institute. This new collaboration will quantify the financial impacts of farm-scale, sustainable management practices on ecosystem services.
Across the country, planners and policy makers are starting to consider the value of natural capital assets and ecosystem services. In Arizona, Earth Economics has joined in to work with groups on incorporating ecosystem services into planning for the Sabino Creek watershed.
In December, Earth Economics released a new report that found that the benefits of investing in the trails, parks, and open space of Alaska’s Mat-Su Borough return more than $5 for every $1 spent. Now, that same report is being used by Mat-Su Borough Assembly members to negotiate a proposed recreation bond in support of trails.
Central American biodiversity hotspots are increasingly at risk from drug trafficking, but not much is known about the full costs and risks to ecosystem services. In a new collaboration with Fundación Neotrópica, Earth Economics will contribute to a large-scale study that aims to support drug policy reform with solid scientific evidence of the unintended and under-recognized consequences of standard drug policies, including impacts on some of the world’s most biodiverse regions.
A new Earth Economics report evaluates the cost-effectiveness of continued dam operations as compared with the benefits of a free-flowing Lower Snake River. Earth Economics’ latest analysis took a look at four dams along the Lower Snake River in Southeast Washington, investigating whether the dams’ benefits outweigh the costs. As they stand, the dams return only $0.15 on every dollar, but a free-flowing Lower Snake River has an estimated $4.30 return for every dollar.