Endangered species and biodiversity habitat markets are the hot topic right now

We just published two papers on endangered species habitat markets (both can be found on the academia.edu and researchgate.net links on the right of the page):

Kristen A. Vitro*, Todd K. BenDor, and J. Adam Riggsbee. 2017. Trends in U.S. pre-listing conservation planning for endangered species. Environmental Science and Policy 74: 68-74 | LINK

Summary: In 2011, a legal settlement required the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to develop a series of work plans to assess a backlog of candidate species for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Using the resulting USFWS Fiscal Year 20132018 work plan, which included 261 candidate species, we identified and analyzed pre-listing candidate conservation plans (PLCP) to determine their characteristics and evaluate the use of market-based mechanisms. Among the 34 PLCPs identified, we found that species-based conservation plans were more common than habitat-based plans, and market-based conservation approaches were infrequently implemented. Inconsistencies in plan documentation were present throughout the USFWSs online portal, and not all documentation was publicly accessible. Lastly, we found that many states had implemented their own endangered species programs or initiated conservation plans through a state agency. Our work informs the recently-adopted USFWS pre-listing conservation policy and highlights needed improvements in tracking large numbers of at-risk species as they become the subject of regulations. Increased transparency and consistency in conservation plan databases, coupled with increased accessibility, will improve future at-risk species planning.

Galik, Christopher, Todd K. BenDor, Julie DeMeester and David Wolfe. 2017. Improving Habitat Exchange Planning Through Theory, Application, and Lessons from Other Fields. Environmental Science and Policy 73: 45-51 | LINK

New tools are being deployed to address the continued decline of species at risk of becoming threatened or endangered. One approach receiving increased attention is the habitat exchange, or the use of a market-based, landscape-scale approach to protect or restore habitat in one place to offset impacts elsewhere. Although considerable resources have been devoted to the establishment of habitat exchanges over the past several years, actual implementation of transactions through habitat exchanges have been limited. As we argue here, important lessons have been slow to translate to habitat exchanges from other planning arenas. We briefly outline how the decision sciences, particularly structured decision making, and other planning processes such as those governing electricity infrastructure development can provide examples to facilitate the use of habitat exchanges as a viable and scalable conservation tool. We emphasize the challenge of translating theory to application, and note the importance of cross-fertilization of knowledge and experience across traditional disciplinary bounds.

Political Tampering with science advisory boards is a bad idea

Check out my new op-ed in the Raleigh News and Observer.  I am a board member of the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) sub-committee on Sustainable and Healthy Communities (SHC), a branch of the EPA’s Office of Research and Development that does unbelievably valuable work trying to bring better information, science, and technology to American communities and to the public.  I was selected because I do strong work in this area.  Now, appointments to these boards are expiring, with re-appointments either non-existent (eliminating the board) or requiring a political test (being a member of an EPA regulated industry or being friendly to the administration).  This is not how science or scientific advisory should operate, anywhere on the political spectrum.


New stuff!

I’ve been negligent in posting lately, but there’s lots of news!  Get ready for a ton of posts…