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conservation

Can Family-Owned Forests Help the U.S. Achieve a Low-Carbon Future?

A USDA Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) project is trying to reimagine how carbon markets can work with and for small landholders. The Family Forest Carbon Program (FFCP), led by the American Forest Foundation (AFF) and The Nature Conservancy, bases carbon payments on specific forest management practices that have been scientifically shown to increase the amount of carbon that gets removed from the atmosphere and stored in the trees and soil. The project’s goal is to facilitate the participation of nearly 300 million acres of family-owned American forests in carbon markets

Wetland Mitigation Banking Partnerships are Thriving in Georgia

Wetlands are one of nature’s most important and productive ecosystems. They provide wildlife habitat, store floodwaters, filter pollutants, capture carbon, and offer recreational opportunities. Since 2016, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has spent $20 million to establish wetland mitigation banks to help restore and protect wetland ecosystems on agricultural land.

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?

Conservation Program Benefits an Iconic Bird of the Southern Great Plains

The lesser prairie-chicken and its habitat are making a comeback thanks to a USDA conservation program. The ground-dwelling bird was once abundant in the southern Great Plains, living in parts of Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. But over the past 150 years due to human migration and settlement, the lesser prairie-chicken population has declined by more than 90 percent, and its range has shrunk by over 80 percent.

Bee Better Certification Program is Buzzing on U.S. Farms, Local Grocers

Bees are a lifeline for farms producing the world’s fruits, vegetables, nuts and other nutrient-rich foods. Bees pollinate billions of dollars’ worth of crops and play an essential role in our food supply. Pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat and contribute more than $15 billion to our nation's crop values each year.

NRCS Shares Soil Science through International Engagement

As the world leader in soil classification and soil survey, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), was invited to give a keynote presentation at the XXVII Congress of Soil Science of Argentina held virtually the week of October 12, 2020. Soil Survey Regional Director Luis Hernandez with the NRCS Soil and Plant Science Division represented USDA-NRCS and provided a comprehensive overview of the USA National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) Program.