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Rain, Rain go away…….

climate change

For our readers living on the east coast, rain – and too much of it – has been the number one topic of conversation over the past few weeks.  People on the street are fond of claiming that there has been more snow and rain recently than “in the past,” and it’s all due to climate change.  But is this true?  

Rainfall can be measured with anything from a bucket and a ruler in neighborhood backyards  (http://www.cocorahs.org/) to the more sophisticated 50+ year record kept at the Hubbard Brook Research Station in the White Mountains of New Hampshire (http://www.fs.fed.us/ne/durham/4352/hb.shtml). Yet, analyzing this information across broader regions in order to determine changes at global scales is a much bigger challenge. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that an increase in global temperatures is likely to increase evaporation and therefore rainfall causing wet areas to become wetter and dry areas to become drier, but more studies are needed.

 In an exciting new development aimed at improving these predictions, NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have released the first images captured by their newest Earth-observing satellite, the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory, which launched into space Feb. 27, 2014.

Data from this satellite should go a long way towards improving the accuracy of rainfall predictions, rates of evaporation and cloud formation, correlations between cloud formations and types of rain, and the relationship between climate change and rainfall (Nicola Jones; April 3, 2014).

This type of information could be a boon to everyone from utilities planning water supplies to farmers choosing which plant varieties to sow.  At Conservation Economics we look to such new technological developments to inform our work with landowners (http://www.conservationeconomics.com/).


Nutrient Credits Where They’re Due

Nutrient trading is a market-based program that provides incentives for improving water quality by removing excess nutrients from a watershed.  Municipal and non-municipal wastewater management facilities which discharge nitrogen and/or phosphorus into local waterways are obligated by local, state and federal regulations or voluntary action to remove nutrients from wastewater. If they exceed mandated limits, they may achieve compliance by buying credits from landowners who, through a variety of best management practices (BMPs) and mitigating actions, provide an excess of credits.

For landowners desiring to earn income by selling nutrient credits, protocols and procedures for calculating credits are being developed (e.g. Nutrient Trading Tool NTT http://extension.psu.edu/aec/webinars-presentations/modeling-and-decision-support-tool-forum/ntt-nutrient-trading-tool-and-nutrient-net/presentation/view). In Pennsylvania, county and state agencies are working to determine and standardize baseline levels of nitrogen and phosphorus across various soil and land-use types. By using established BMPs for cropland and pasture, livestock and poultry in the next year, landowners may be certified and register the nutrient credits for auction.

Organizations such as the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST), in conjunction with the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), host auctions (currently four times a year) for the sale and purchase of nutrient credits in the Susquehanna and Potomac watersheds (http://www.dep.state.pa.us/river/Nutrient%20trading.htm). Although trading varies according to the market, recent values have been around $3.00 per credit.

For more information about other means of generating revenue from your land in a way that benefits the environment please visit our web site, www.conservationeconomics.com.


Growing Demand for Non Timber Forest Products

In ancient times, medicinal herbs were highly regarded for their properties of strengthening immune systems. Unfortunately, many of these traditional medicines disappeared from common usage in the United States following the rise of scientific medicine and the introduction to manufactured pharmaceuticals in the 20th century.

In the 21st century, many of these medicinal herbs are making a comeback. One herb in particular – Goldenseal – has experienced a rapid expansion of production and marketing in the United States and it’s been estimated that demand currently exceeds supply. This is most likely due to increasing acceptance of botanical products by the health food industry.

In evidence of this trend, the UK publisher of The Examiner wrote an article about how to beat the common cold with traditional herbs, including Goldenseal.

“Goldenseal (hydrastis canadensis), also indigenous to North America, is commonly used in conjunction with echinacea for the treatment of colds and flu. Native Americans traditionally used goldenseal for a wide range of ailments, including the treatment of skin diseases, ulcers, gonorrhea and other infectious conditions. According to traditional herbalism, goldenseal is considered to be a tonic for mucous membranes. It is often recommended for infectious diarrhea, gastritis, infections and inflammation of the mucous membranes, and for digestive disorders. Goldenseal is not recommended for use during pregnancy.”

To learn more about potential revenue generating opportunities your property, visit the Conservation Economics web site.


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