Skip Navigation

Environmental Markets at NRCS

Environmental Markets


The environmental benefits that healthy ecosystems provide -- such as clean water and air, flood prevention, healthy soils and wildlife habitat – are collectively known as ecosystem services. When ecosystem services can be measured and quantified -- for example, the amount of carbon stored in soil -- they can be sold and purchased through emerging markets. These markets are called ecosystem or environmental markets.

Farmers and ranchers generate ecosystem services when they implement conservation practices on their lands. Producers who generate ecosystem services credits may be able to voluntarily participate in environmental markets, providing an additional source of income.

NRCS’ Role in Environmental Markets

Environmental markets are an approach that can be used to help landowners get conservation on the ground. While NRCS has substantial funding to dedicate to private lands conservation, environmental markets complement NRCS’s work by bringing private and other non-Federal investments to private lands conservation. Our focus is on:

  • Awareness building and education
  • Development of ecosystem services quantification tools
  • Technical assistance for policy-making
  • Grants to support the development of markets and protocols

Examples of NRCS Environmental Markets Activities

Water Quality Trading

NRCS funds pilot water quality trading projects throughout the United States, supporting the development of replicable trading frameworks and policies.

Examples of CIG water quality trading grantees:

National Network on Water Quality Trading (NNWQT)

The NNWQT, established to improve the consistency, innovation and integrity in water quality trading, is comprised of a variety of stakeholders, representing agriculture, wastewater utilities, environmental interests, regulatory agencies, and practitioners. The Willamette Partnership administers the NNWQT with financial support from NRCS. NRCS serves as a technical advisor to the group, ensuring that the needs of farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are represented.

Learn more about NNWQT.

Greenhouse Gas Markets

NRCS funds projects that support greenhouse gas markets. GHG markets can help farmers, ranchers and forest owners reduce GHG emissions and improve soil health while providing new income streams to producers who undertake practices that generate carbon credits.

Examples of CIG greenhouse gas market grantees:

Our Team

  • Kari Cohen, Director, Conservation Innovations Team
  • Adam Chambers, Co-Leader, Energy and Environmental Markets Team
  • Lindsay White, Management Analyst, Conservation Innovations Team