Countries often face situations where biodiversity is not positioned on the national agenda and, in that scenario, developing financial mechanisms or mobilizing resources will be much more difficult than when biodiversity is in the mainstream of the country. Safeguarding diverse ecosystems ensures invaluable services essential for sustainable development and improvements in human wellbeing.
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A conceptual framework based on accounting principles of stocks, flows, and investment can be applied to natural capital, social and cultural capital, human capital and financial and physical capitals. Development and application of this framework can help to reveal the environmental, social and economic impacts and interactions of prevailing land use (or other management) practices, and provide a way of assessing the effectiveness of different programmes for achieving desired management objectives.
In the Netherlands, a coalition of multinational and large Dutch companies is taking steps to make their impact on natural and social capital visible throughout their entire value chain, with the help of civil society organizations. This unique initiative of companies, NGOs and the government teaming-up. Their ambition is formalized in a "Green Deal" signed by IUCN-NL, True Price, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Netherlands and the Dutch government. The Green Deal is linked to the global Natural Capital Protocol.
Australia has a growing national network of protected areas (PAs) known as the National Reserve System (NRS) which extends over two (of many) exceptional World Heritage Areas (WHAs) in Australia’s north east: the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and the Wet Tropical Rainforests of Queensland (WT). Biodiversity conservation (under legal protections of varying strictness) and multiple uses (set out by zoning and related regulations) apply in both the GBR WHA and the WT WHA.
Financial mechanisms allow private sector to participate in conservation of biodiversity through corporate responsibility programs and corporate image positioning and complementing the financial sustainability for Protected Areas Systems. Private sector shows an interest in contributing to the development of programs of corporate social responsibility that focus either on social or environmental fields. However, there is still a need for coordination with the National Authorities for Protected Areas.
Australia’s National Landscapes programme was inspired by the need to make Australia’s wealth of protected areas digestible for visitors, to differentiate the best natural and cultural destinations and improve the delivery of their experiences. It provides a framework for regional partners to collaborate in considering new tourism projects, infrastructure needs, conservation impacts and marketing.
The "Kimberley to Cape Initiative" in Northern Australia is working across one quarter of a billion hectares of arguably the largest ecologically intact areas of tropical savannas, rivers and shallow seas in the world. It offers a globally significant opportunity in tropical conservation connectivity. The project aims to support development and conservation that enhances natural and cultural values and strengthens communities. Its key strategy is to establish an interconnected network of land of diverse tenures. It includes and links landscapes of particularly high conservation value, e.g.
Recently, a lengthy process of negotiation between timber and conservation interests led to a significant change in a decades long conflict over the use of public forests in Tasmania. An agreement was reached to protect significant additional areas of forest through industry consolidation, with support from all parties. After years of costly and divisive conflict through social, political and market lobbying and campaigning, an alternative approach of direct negotiation between the main stakeholders was undertaken.
This case study discusses the great potential connectivity outcomes when development offsets are required in a landscape which has a foundation of groups committed towards achieving a conservation “corridor”. In this example, the development was the loss of vegetation required for the duplication of the Hume Highway (by Roads and Maritime NSW) and the “corridor” is the priority landscape of the Slopes to Summit partnership (within the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative area) in southern NSW.
By organising and presenting existing biophysical, social and economic data, and applying acknowledged economic valuation methods in an accounting framework, we offer a tool to policy makers that incorporates values of select ecosystem assets and services that is consistent with official macroeconomic indicators and statistics. In producing a structured and familiar accounting based product, we envisage greater uptake and consideration of environmental data in the policy decision making process.