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Conservation

Conservation Finance Can Mean Cleaner Air and Water and Healthier Soil

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.

Estimating Ecosystem Benefits from Rangeland Conservation Practices

Nature provides numerous benefits that people value. In the conservation world, we call these benefits ecosystem services. On rangelands, some ecosystem services can be bought and sold in traditional market systems – like forages, meat, and other animal products from livestock. Other ecosystem services are not typically bought or sold, but nevertheless have value – like cleaner water, better air quality, and reduced risk from drought or flood. Conservation practices can increase the value of both types of ecosystem services. But, how do we put a dollar value on non-marketable services on rangeland? And how do we tie those dollar values to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation practices?