Mitigating Impacts to Ecosystem Services: Approaches, Assumptions, and Advances

Thursday, August 14, 2014: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Magnolia, Sheraton Hotel
Kai Ming A. Chan, University of British Columbia
Paige Olmsted, University of British Columbia
Paige Olmsted, University of British Columbia
The ecology community has thus far related ecological considerations for decision-makers primarily by characterizing ecosystems’ provision of benefits for people (through ecosystem services, ES), and how this might differ across land-use/marine spatial plans or other large-scale decision-making options. But it is increasingly clear that to stem the tide of ES degradation, we must find ways of engaging the many diverse agents of ES change to foster extraction, production, and use that is less damaging, ‘sustainable’, or even regenerative. But how do various parties engage in this project of ES impact mitigation? How do they set objectives, choose priorities, and assess costs and benefits? And where and how does ecology enter into these considerations? A variety of approaches including payments for ES, certification, habitat restoration, and biodiversity or carbon offsets, have all faced both marked enthusiasm and scathing critique. In this symposium, we compare them head-to-head, from the perspective of ES mitigation. Acknowledging the challenge in compensating for impact, this is a forum for representatives across the conservation arena, industry, and academics to discuss their experience with various approaches, and how their work and the work of their organizations fit into the overall ES mitigation picture. First we will hear from three ecology and policy experts, all of whom are employed by major conservation NGOs, and whose diverse experience in this area includes unique partnerships with communities, local and federal governments, and whose on-the-ground experience helps illustrate which tools and partnerships are effective across multiple settings and what is necessarily context dependent. This will be followed by a talk on corporate mitigation strategies of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development from a lead author of TEEB for business, followed by an environmental consultant who will discuss mitigation and stakeholder relations on national and international scales. The final talk will propose one possible way to integrate mitigation activities across these various parties, and to connect them to the sustainability concern and funding of consumers, producers, communities and governments. It will ask, what might it take for ES mitigation to spark a new social norm of social-ecological responsibility? Such a discussion is relevant to all constituents of the ESA membership – students and researchers identifying knowledge gaps and interested in the use of ecology in on-ground conservation, other practitioners who face similar challenges, and government representatives interested in the variety of relationships and partnerships that have approached this question from various angles.
2:30 PM
 Mitigating impacts on ecosystem services through applied assessment: Lessons from WWF and the Natural Capital Project
Amy Rosenthal, WWF; Gregory Verutes, Natural Capital Project; Emily McKenzie, WWF; Nirmal Bhagabati, World Wildlife Fund
3:00 PM
3:40 PM
 Building the conservation economy
Rebecca Shaw, Environmental Defense Fund
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