Three years ago we received a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant, in collaboration with economists at the University of Rhode Island, to develop a community-based ecosystem service market. The market prototype was narrowly focused on providing wildlife habitat (particularly for Bobolinks) on farm fields. By concentrating our energies, we were able to gain substantial insight about how best to market ‘green credits’, how best to contract with farmers for conservation practices that create enhanced ecosystem services, and how best to organize and conduct local and regional markets.
Today we launched a website (parts are still under development) that establishes the Nature Services Exchange. Our goal is to first provide tools for agricultural and rural communities to evaluate and measure their ecosystem services, plan for ecosystem service improvements, and monitor those enhancements over time. As systems and standards for green credit markets evolve, we will adapt those evaluation methods to align with green credit/carbon offset standards – allowing communities to use www.natureservicesexchange.com as a registry and electronic marketplace.
EcoAsset Markets has also begun developing a green credit exchange and fund for southern New England.