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Conservation Finance Can Mean Cleaner Air and Water and Healthier Soil

Posted by Lucas Isakowitz, Presidential Management Fellow and Adam Chambers, National Environmental Markets Leader in Conservation
Apr 26, 2021
TU Volunteers build a beaver dam analog structure in Utah

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the largest funder of conservation on private land in the United States, supporting producers’ transitions to beneficial farming and ranching practices. While these transitions can require an upfront cost, they also often lead to financial rewards. Healthy and resilient soils, rich with organic material, may lead to more productive crops requiring less fertilizer. And watersheds protected by forests and riverbanks with riparian habitat can lead to cleaner water downstream.

Increasingly, governments and private organizations have realized that ecosystem services have real financial value and can bring monetary returns. The result is that billions in new funding has gone towards conservation investment projects over the past few years.

In response to this interest, NRCS established an intentional conservation finance funding source through its Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. Since 2015, CIG, which aims to stimulate development and adoption of innovative conservation technologies and approaches, has funded projects led by over 35 conservation finance entities. These sector leaders have used the funding to explore ways to attract non-Federal investment in private and working lands conservation.

CIG’s conservation finance projects have invested approximately $25 million into market-based projects, from pay-for-success programs to reduce water usage or nutrient pollution, to crafting new loan mechanisms that support farmers as they transition to organic agriculture. Moreover, because the CIG program requires projects to match NRCS’ investment dollar-for-dollar, the program provides a smooth entry point for private funds to enter the conservation finance sector. While the natural resource challenges that this cohort of projects tackles vary from air to water to soil, the goal is often the same: find a way to direct new revenue streams and sources of private capital towards agricultural producers and rural economies while improving the Nation’s natural resources.

See examples of NRCS’s conservation finance work.

A Montana ranch crew examines the effects of timber encroachment on grazing and riparian areas
Category/Topic: Conservation

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Alan E Easley
May 06, 2021

I’m very interested in research grants for soil conservation in regards to utilizing existing waste streams to produce soil amendments . Thus rerouting them from the present dead end landfill method of disposal to research facilities to determine the best use methods of composting specific streams. Primarily food and vegetative wastes.

Nolan D buddy Allen
May 06, 2021

This is great for our country .I have been organic farming for eight years row crop farming needs more exposure like a central Webb site where farmers can on a daily basis post what is available in the next 2-4 days . that way buyers can see what and where to buy from. have the farms to join and post the commodes maybe a central depot in the most productive areas. Thanks Buddy Allen

linda mcpherson
May 06, 2021

I agree. i have been researching the advanced progress of other countries, in respect to the critical importance of eco systems and the natural flow of all that it connects to. Veins of streams and such supply nutrients, on going to the soil and promote the best health toward growing innovative crops. and the value of all of this, is, vital to the present, and future of soil health and crop growing. We need to reopen plugged up stream veins and give back health to the lands. Innovative development can be a blessing for our Veterans, as Nature gives forth, tranquility and peace. Our Veterans would be good stewards to the land. I am all for making these things happen. Financing of land with a home to be built upon it, should be made easy for our veterans. It should be a age of new , and, revisited ways of farming for now, and the future. We also need to get more young people interested in becoming a part of all of this. They, also, are of the future, and this knowledge is of critical importance. We need to heal our farmlands.