Guest Post by Heleen van Soest
To get an idea of climate, energy and biodiversity policies in the US, Heleen van Soest visited Washington DC, in January and February 2014. She attended the 3 days conference Building Climate Solutions, and had interviews at a number of institutions and think tanks. In a couple of guest posts, she shares her thoughts.
Post 4: Paying for ecosystem services? Not yet, but biodiversity offsets are a start
Resources for the Future works on, among many other things, the valuation of natural resources and ecosystems. Basically: what does nature give us, in terms of money or otherwise? Recreation is one thing, but there are also ecosystem services like providing fresh water and pollination. Such services are often threatened in many ways, so what areas should we protect? RFF and other organisations, I was told, look at so-called biodiversity hotspots to set priorities for conservation, protection, and restoration. You could also look at ecoregions, which WWF uses to set priorities for their conservation investments. These investments are further informed by the high conservation value approach. In addition to informing investments, high conservation values can also tell you, for example, what areas you should not deforest. More generally, it can be used in land use planning.