More than thirty Chesapeake conservationists assembled with national and regional experts for three days in December to explore a host of innovative conservation finance options. (Photo: Jennifer Miller-Herzog)

Bucks. Frog skins. Clams. This time, we’re not talking fauna, but finance.

No matter what you call them, we know that dollars are a key component to making strategic land conservation work. 

This interest in learning more about new and innovative sources of funding and financing for land conservation brought three dozen conservationists together with a faculty of national and regional experts at the Chesapeake Conservation Finance Intensive course last month. 

Over three days, our heads were filled with concepts, information, and real-world examples of projects leveraging forest carbon offsets, revolving water funds, voluntary surcharges, mitigation, state revolving funds, pay-for-success outcomes-based contracting and financing, and more. 

A few feature highlights from the course: 

  • We learned from Quantified Ventures’ Seth Brown how they are working with the US Forest Service to revitalize rural economies in Ohio through a unique partnership with private investors and local communities to develop an 88-mile multi-use trail using a “pay for success” financing and implementation model. 
  • Katherine Birnie of Ecosystem Investment Partners shared how mitigation markets under the Clean Water Act are evolving to get restoration on the ground faster and more effectively through larger scale projects and better models for financing, permitting, and implementing stream and wetland restoration—and how private investment resources are playing a role in accelerating this critical work in Maryland.
  • Finite Carbon’s Dylan Jenkins gave us a crash course in carbon markets and how they are maturing, as well as what opportunities, needs, and challenges may exist in the Chesapeake to leverage this source of funding and financing for more forest protection, restoration, and improved management. For more, check out his webinar, Forest Carbon Offsets: A Viable Opportunity for US Landowners?,” on a similar topic for the Forest Climate Working Group. 
  • Finally, four brave and fortunate course participants had the opportunity to pitch projects from across the watershed to be workshopped by a team of experts in our “dolphin tank,” learning how the many tools covered during the intensive could be applied to their own work. 

Course participants were excited about what they learned, too, sharing that it was:“…very interesting, thought-provoking, and inspiring!” “…fantastic—so many ideas and concepts to explore,” and “…awesome to meet so many passionate practitioners so willing to entertain new and market-based ways of achieving impact.” 

If you’re looking for conservation finance resources yourself, look no further than the Conservation Finance Network’s website, which features original articles, news items, and tool kits on conservation finance topics. And keep your eyes peeled for future in-person and remote learning opportunities from the Partnership and our colleagues. 

The Chesapeake Conservation Partnership, along with the Conservation Finance Network, the Land Trust Alliance, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) Healthy Watersheds Goal Implementation Team (GIT), and the National Park Service sponsored the training, supported by a grant from the CBP GIT funding initiative administered by the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Lightning Update is a regular communication of the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions of the Partnership or member organizations.
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Support for the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership is provided by:
National Park Service Chesapeake
EPA Chesapeake Bay Program
USDA Forest Service
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Virginia Outdoors Foundation
US Fish & Wildlife Service
Chesapeake Conservancy

The Chesapeake Conservation Partnership is co-convened by: