The Conservation Innovations Team was established in 2016 in response to growing interest in environmental markets and conservation finance. NRCS’s work in these emerging areas complements, and in some ways is already integrated with, our traditional conservation planning and program implementation
Why is NRCS Involved?
NRCS’s annual budget provides substantial funding for conservation implementation on farms, ranches and forest lands, but much more can be accomplished on these lands with investable dollars flowing from private capital. The total potential for global conservation impact investment has been estimated to be between 200 and 400 billion from 2016 to 2020. Both environmental markets and conservation finance offer opportunities to attract this private capital to working lands conservation, to complement and amplify NRCS’s work with private landowners.
As a Federal agency, NRCS can play a role in incubating and supporting the development of promising environmental markets and conservation finance approaches in their early stages, when entities looking for returns would be less likely to invest.
How We Work
NRCS supports the development of environmental markets and conservation finance approaches through its programs such as Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS also develops technical tools such as COMET that can help estimate the benefits of conservation efforts, providing the infrastructure to help make markets and new financial vehicles work. In addition, NRCS is leveraging its partnership building capacity to support networks such as the National Network on Water Quality Trading and the Conservation Finance Practitioners Roundtable, which develop communities of practice to support these emerging approaches. NRCS conservation finance and environmental markets work is carried out in partnership with organizations including:
NRCS and Partner Resources
- Environmental Markets 101 Webinar (USDA-NRCS)
- NRCS and Private Capital: Investing in America Together (Encourage Capital)
- Private Capital for Working Lands Conservation: A Market Development Framework (Conservation Finance Network)
- Conservation Finance Network
- Working With the Market: Economic Instruments to Support Investment in Green Stormwater Infrastructure (Willamette Partnership)
- Conservation Finance – From Niche to Mainstream: The Building of an Institutional Asset Class (Credit Suisse, McKinsey Center for Business and the Environment)
- Pay-for-Performance: A How-To Guide (Winrock International)