Over the past couple of days I’ve had several discussions with Rhode Island USDA NRCS about their development of a Rapid Watershed Assessment (RWA). The RWA gives NRCS, farmers, and conservation organizations the ability to prioritize conservation actions, determine the best economies for those conservation actions, and adaptively manage conservation and farm systems.
Part of the discussion involved a desire by NRCS to integrate the many different conservation and environmental plans/databases/information systems….and the difficulty with realizing that goal. I think part of the problem with any of these cooperative visions for information and data is the unknown cost of such complex tasks. Most conservation organizations and governmental departments have few funds for this kind of complex development…and it is expensive.
One of the opportunities that arise from ecosystem service markets, and the financial assets they create, is the potential for cash to finance these assessment, valuation, and monitoring systems. Within a bit of forethought, we can develop planning and assessment tools that allow for valuation, monitoring, and brokering of ecosystem services.