What are ecosystem goods and services?
The waterfowl habitats that Ducks Unlimited works to conserve provide many benefits: improved flood control, clean water, recreational opportunities, preserved aesthetic viewsheds and climate regulation. These are often referred to as "ecosystem goods and services."
The ecosystem goods and services created by thriving habitats are economically linked to individuals, landowners, businesses and large corporations. Recognizing this value, market-based systems and banking structures have emerged where environmental "credits" can be generated and sold. These include carbon markets, water quality trading, river augmentation credits and wetland-mitigation banking. DU has engaged in nearly all of these environmental markets and remains committed to the provision of ecosystem goods and services. DU hopes to meet a diverse set of needs and provide opportunities to benefit both waterfowl and people.
Carbon Offset Program
Greenhouse gas (GHG) levels in the atmosphere continue to rise at accelerated rates, influencing climatic conditions and weather patterns at multiple scales. Such influences can heavily affect ecosystems vital to waterfowl populations and the effectiveness of Ducks Unlimited's work on the ground. Managing GHG emissions is a global challenge that will take a wide range of innovative solutions. Prairie grasslands and bottomland forests important to DU's mission can act as GHG reserves by sequestering and storing significant amounts carbon. Conversely, plowing up grasslands and removing mature forests can result in the emission of established carbon reserves and add to concerning GHG concentration levels in the atmosphere. Avoiding and/or removing GHG emissions can translate into marketable carbon offsets. DU's Carbon Program can help supply these offsets, and landowners and DU's conservation work can benefit from these new revenue opportunities.
Water Resource Program
Wetlands are dynamic ecosystems providing multiple societal services for managing and cleaning water. Historically, water has been our limitless resource and although water covers more than 70% of the earth, only a fraction of a fraction of fresh water is actually available for human consumption. Available water resources are increasingly stretched beyond available limits to meet demands of growing populations, which are expected to double in many states over the next few decades. As populations grow, demands to supply more food competes with demands for clean and plentiful water at home and in many industrial processes.
Ducks Unlimited provides valuable on-the-ground solutions that maximize water resource values through the dynamic natural functions of wetlands. Wetlands naturally store and slow water with capability to recharge rivers and aquifers, improve water quality through biological and physical processes, and provide waterfowl habitat. Through beautiful wetland habitats, we can help address future water needs of waterfowl, wildlife, and people.
Wetland mitigation can offset adverse impacts to wetlands, streams and other water bodies brought on by development. Under the Clean Water Act, construction projects that affect a wetland are required to mitigate the damage by creating a wetland of equal or greater functioning capacity. Agencies or developers can mitigate their own impacts or they can purchase mitigation credits from a wetland mitigation bank or program.
Ducks Unlimited's mitigation program can help developers meet their mitigation requirements.