Ecosystem Services Update
By David Ray, Forestry Research Scientist
Fast action on climate change legislation seems unlikely owing to other higher priority legislation, e.g., health care, and the generally sluggish state of the economy. The Waxman-Markey bill, which was approved by the House last June, and now the Kerry-Boxer Bill in the Senate, if and when it passes, will need to be reconciled with one another. At this point, it is anyone’s guess what the final bill will look like. The agriculture and forestry lobbies have had some success at getting recognition for land management practices that sequester additional carbon eligible for offset credits. And, there is a general sense of optimism among resource managers that carbon markets will become (more of) a reality in the not too distant future. Landowners who are interested in participating in carbon markets are advised to talk with their consulting forester about the opportunities for which they may become eligible, and how that might affect their current approach to management.
To this point only forest carbon been addressed in this section, however it is also worth thinking about the emergence of other non-traditional ecosystem service markets. In the last installment I listed a number of useful websites, one of which was the Forest Service’s newly launched Ecosystem Services portal. If you haven’t done so already, and are generally interested to learn more about how emerging markets for ecosystem services then I suggest you visit their site: http://www.fs.fed.us/ecosystemservices/. And in particular have a look at how ecosystem services are being viewed in the latest Farm Bill legislation: http://www.fs.fed.us/ecosystemservices/Farm_Bill/index.shtml.