- What is an ecosystem?
- What are ecosystem services?
- What is Mitigation Banking?
- What are the Benefits of Purchasing Credits?
- How Do I Purchase Mitigation Bank Credits?
- What is “Turnkey” or “Full-Service” Mitigation?
- How Do I Purchase Turnkey Mitigation?
- What is Nutrient Trading?
What is an ecosystem?
An ecosystem is a community of living organisms (plants, animals and microbes) in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system. These components are regarded as linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. As ecosystems are defined by the network of interactions among organisms, and between organisms and their environment, they can come in any size but usually encompass specific, limited spaces (although some scientists say that the entire planet is an ecosystem).
Energy, water, nitrogen and soil minerals are other essential abiotic components of an ecosystem. The energy that flows through ecosystems is obtained primarily from the sun. It generally enters the system through photosynthesis, a process that also captures carbon from the atmosphere. By feeding on plants and on one another, animals play an important role in the movement of matter and energy through the system. They also influence the quantity of plant and microbial biomass present. By breaking down dead organic matter, decomposers release carbon back to the atmosphere and facilitate nutrient cycling by converting nutrients stored in dead biomass back to a form that can be readily used by plants and other microbes.
What are ecosystem services?
An ecosystem provides ecosystem services that all forms of life rely on. In short we need clean air, water, soils and habitat to survive. These services have been severely impacted the entire last century by human activities undertaken to grow the world’s economy. That economy is fueled in part by the growth in the worldwide population. The growth in population and the infrastructure established to support it has had a significant impact on the waters, land and air we depend on.
What is Mitigation Banking?
Wetland Mitigation Banking is a market-based approach established by Federal regulators that allows a public or private entity called a bank sponsor to restore and preserve wetlands, streams, habitat and other natural resources for the purpose of providing compensatory mitigation for both authorized impacts as well as negligent and intentional activities involving impacts to the environment. Banks result in the advanced restoration of natural resource functions and values where the bank sponsor carries the investment risk as well as responsibility for success. Today most regulators place a high preference for or require by law that bank credits be purchased to satisfy compensatory mitigation requirements should they exist and be applicable.
While some permit seekers mitigate impacts by permanently protecting and restoring environmental features similar to the ones impacted onsite, others make use of mitigation banks. Mitigation banks are sites chosen specifically for their ability to protect and restore environmental features such as wetlands, streams and endangered species habitat. These banks are characterized by:
- Providing measurable protection and restoration in advance of any specific impact.
- Providing clear success criteria that government agencies can use to determine if the bank is in fact providing meaningful protection and restoration services.
- Providing financial assurance, typically in the form of a bond tied to the property, that provides for monitoring and maintenance of the bank, and;
- Providing permanent protection in the form of a restriction on the deed to the land which ensures that the bank will stay in service.
Mitigation banks help establish a balance between the need to establish economic stability and development, by providing a means for appropriate and necessary development to occur in a more responsible and ethical manner.
When development affects important ecosystem service values, mitigation banks ensure that developers have an effective means of offsetting the specific impacts that occur, and ensure that the costs of mitigation are included in the cost of the development.
What are the Benefits of Purchasing Credits?
- Contribute to the health and function of aquatic systems on a watershed scale by restoring in advance and preserving large tracts of open space.
- Credit purchase from an approved bank is the state and federally preferred, and in most cases mandated, method of providing compensatory mitigation for wetland and aquatic habitat impacts.
- Economies of scale often make mitigation credits less expensive than singular wetland mitigation projects.
- GreenVest assumes 100% of the financial burden to develop the mitigation plus 100% of the responsibility for success.
- Eliminates the time lag associated with funding, acquiring, designing, constructing and maintaining and monitoring your own mitigation site.
- Expedites the approval process allowing your project to proceed on schedule saving time.
- Greatly reduces and fixes the cost of funding, acquiring, designing, constructing and maintaining and monitoring your own mitigation site.
- Mitigation costs are defined up front and fixed.
- Expedite the approval process allowing your project to proceed on schedule, saving money.
- Eliminates the risks associated with funding, acquiring, designing, constructing and maintaining and monitoring your own mitigation site.
- Your mitigation requirement is satisfied upon credit purchase with no 5-year liability tail (maintenance/monitoring).
How Do I Purchase Mitigation Bank Credits?
GreenVest currently possesses established banks and is continuously developing new mitigation banks in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Those facing statutory, regulatory or legal compensatory mitigation requirements are eligible to purchase credits from GreenVest. By developing advanced mitigation, GreenVest assumes all costs, plus 100% of the responsibility for success. Credit prices are based the type and volume required, plus timing of their purchase. We will coordinate with your regulator to obtain approval for the credit purchase and fully document satisfaction of your mitigation requirements. The credit purchase is all inclusive and fully satisfies your compensatory mitigation requirements upon completion of the transaction with GreenVest. Purchasing credits from GreenVest is expeditious, cost effective and risk free, allowing our clients to focus on their core business.
What is “Turnkey” or “Full-Service” Mitigation?
Many conventional business services, from accounting to logistics, are often outsourced to specialists who can provide more efficient and cost-effective outcomes because they focus only on the particular service they provide. Today, many building, construction, mining or other operations find themselves hiring staff and spending tremendous amounts of time and attention on the mitigation requirements of their projects. Both project proponents and the public can benefit from ‘turn key’ mitigation projects that provide complete, verifiable environmental offsets for one or more business activity. ‘Turnkey’ projects essentially outsource all aspects of a mitigation project, from site location through permitting, restoration activities and monitoring. ‘Full service mitigation’ is a related approach that adds a consultative planning element to the turn key approach, allowing firms to benefit from more strategic approaches to land use planning and issues relating to the time and cost of permits. GreenVest is a firm that has a 20 year track record of providing these services.
GreenVest, by contract, will eliminate liability and assume 100% of the risk of providing complete turnkey mitigation at an upfront fixed price, meeting permit obligations and performance standards, posting financial assurances, obtaining necessary permits for construction, maintaining/monitoring through final regulatory release, as well as guaranteeing all successes of the project. GreenVest can provide turnkey mitigation on piece of land you own or one that GreenVest identifies and acquires. GreenVest coordinates with the regulators securing all the required approvals allowing your project to move forward.
How Do I Purchase Turnkey Mitigation?
Those facing statutory, regulatory or legal compensatory mitigation requirements looking for a quick alternative to the cumbersome, time and resource consuming process of providing mitigation also have the ability to purchase Turnkey Mitigation from GreenVest. Established by GreenVest, this type of mitigation provides a simple start-to-finish service on a fixed price basis. This includes Land Acquisition, Planning, Design/Build, Maintenance/Monitoring and Land Stewardship. Our acquisition team identifies, acquires and holds title to land or an easement in an expeditious and cost-effective manner. In cases where fee title is transferred, the land stewardship continues in perpetuity. Our team of scientists and restoration ecologists work with the engineers representing the permittee to customize the design of a site to meet regulatory expectations and ensure successful implementation of restoration. The Stewardship team then implements an active monitoring and adaptive management program that ensures compliance with regulatory and permit performance standards, continuing in perpetuity. These services are all included in GreenVest’s guaranteed, fixed price for the Turnkey Mitigation through final regulatory release.
What is Nutrient Trading?
In 2002 the US Environmental Protection Agency issued guidance regarding the establishment of nutrient trading programs to improve water quality in impaired watersheds. A nutrient reduction trade involves an exchange of effluent control responsibility between discharge sources. The control responsibility is expressed in terms of “allowance” or “credit” which specifies the quantity of effluent the discharger is allowed to release. An exchange of allowances or credits does not increase the overall effluent discharge. Increased discharges by one source are offset by decreased discharges by another source. In December 2010, Congress amended the Clean Water Act to provide for new requirements to help improve the reduction of nutrients entering the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) requirement is now imposed on 6 States in the watershed. Each State is now establishing nutrient trading rules which will result in “banks” being established.
Market based approaches place a cost or price on the source’s decision to continue to discharge effluents. In a trading system, the cost is the price to purchase allowances from another source. Within a properly operating trading system, the financial incentives for dischargers to reduce costs drive the search for more effluent control strategies. The result is the potential to establish more restored systems thereby generating credits.