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New Report Looks at Improving Biodiversity Measurements

A new report titled Measuring Up: Synchronizing Biodiversity Measurement Systems for Markets and Other Incentive Programs was just released by the Willamette Partnership with funding and support from USDA’s Office of Environmental Markets (OEM). The report analyzes 25 existing biodiversity measurement systems to identify the elements necessary for a good system.  It presents a standard process for developing measurement systems and offers options for improving the performance of biodiversity markets and conservation programs.  The report’s findings are useful to those interested in measuring conservation effects and increasing the effectiveness of incentive programs.  For example, the report examines how to balance precision and usability, and standardization and customization.

Biodiversity is a key component of a healthy natural environment, one that can supply the ecosystem services that sustain our economy and well-being, such as clean water and air.

Private organizations and government agencies, including the USDA, fund programs to protect or enhance biodiversity.  But measuring biodiversity can be complicated and expensive.  As a result, it can be challenging to quantify the benefits of these programs and to create market-based incentives that reward landowners and operators for their contributions.

Under the 2008 Farm Bill, USDA will work to help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners access emerging markets for environmental services, such as biodiversity.  As part of this effort, USDA will develop guidelines for measuring the environmental benefits of different land management practices.  This new report helps us move forward with that goal.

Contact: Alice Appleton, Office of Environmental Markets, USDA, 202-401-0965 alice.appleton@osec.usda.gov.

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