- Policy Platforms
The Western Governors’ Association hosted the webinar, Conservation Markets in the West, on April 21, 2022. The webinar evaluated opportunities to leverage conservation market incentives and alternative income streams for working agricultural, ranching and forest lands in the West.
RaeAnn Dubay, the Assistant State Conservationist for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service spoke about conservation incentives offered by NRCS, including the new Conservation Incentive Contracts program to support climate-smart agriculture, forestry and drought mitigation. “It’s intended to raise the level of stewardship of our producers without making them enroll their entire operation,” she said. “The hope is that [the conservation] works in combination with production.”
Tom Fry, Director of Western Forest Conservation for the American Forest Foundation spoke about the need to establish business models for conservations in order to attract larger and more diverse companies. “The chief reason we don’t see companies like Google, Amazon or Microsoft investing in fuels reduction is that we haven’t established robust data-driven value for that work,” he said. “At the end of the day, stories and science don’t necessarily a business case make.”
Zach Bodhane, Policy Director, Western Landowners Alliance, spoke about efforts to better align economic systems with long-term land and water stewardship via direct compensation to landowners. “The market is not all that responsive when it comes to rewarding land and water stewardship,” he said. “One opportunity that we see to address this challenge holistically is through habitat leases to provide per-acre, annual payments over long periods of time, say 10 to 30 years, to support the baseline costs of providing essential wildlife habitat and related conservation values.”
Conservation Markets in the West was the second webinar in a four-part series for Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s WGA Chair Initiative, Working Lands, Working Communities, which is examining the interdependent relationship between western communities and natural resource management entitles, as well as the role that local communities play in successful land planning and management processes.
Find more information on the next webinars in the series and register here.