The waterfowl habitats that Ducks Unlimited works to conserve provide mulitple benefits to society, including improved flood control, clean water, recreational opportunities, and climate regulation. As a whole, these benefits are often referred to as "ecological goods and services."
DU's work to restore, protect and enhance waterfowl habitat results in improved ecosystem services that may qualify as environmental “credits” that can be sold in a voluntary trading market. Trading programs have been established or are emerging for several environmental issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, wetlands protection or mitigation banking.
In the national goal toward a "no-net-loss" of wetlands and in recognition of societal growth and development needs, compensatory mitigation can offset authorized adverse impacts to wetlands, streams and other aquatic resources. These mostly unavoidable impacts occur when agencies such as state departments of transportation and private developers severely alter or destroy wetlands during construction. Under the Clean Water Act, development and construction projects that impact a wetland are required to mitigate the damage by creating a wetland of equal or greater functioning capacity.
Two options exist to provide mitigation for impacts to wetlands:
- Developers can either mitigate for their own impacts, or
- Developers can purchase mitigation credits from a wetland mitigation bank or program.
Ducks Unlimited's mitigation program can help developers meet their compensatory mitigation requirements.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Terrestrial ecosystems play an important role in regulating the earth’s climate by cycling and storing various atmospheric elements. A robust strategy to combat global climate change will incorporate many practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance storage capabilities, including terrestrial carbon sequestration. Land management practices such as wetland, grassland, and forest restoration can provide opportunities to sequester significant amounts of carbon. DU's Carbon Sequestration program can help supply these carbon offsets.
Point sources regulated by the Clean Water Act discharge directly into water bodies. Nonpoint sources, such as agricultural fields, discharge in a more dispersed manner above and below ground. Water quality trading allows a point-source discharger to meet CWA obligations by acquiring "credits" from other sources (point or nonpoint) that take measures to reduce the regulated pollutant. Landowners can become suppliers of water quality credits by adopting certain types of conservation practices. Specifically, credits can be generated by undertaking measures to reduce pollutant runoff into water bodies or restore wetland functions.