Conservation Finance: What every landowner needs to know.

Landowners can be paid for improving soil health, water quality and wildlife diversity while maintaining agricultural and ranching operations on their land. But boy, do they make it complicated! Fortunately, we're here to help.

In this 8-part series, we partnered with experts from WRA, Inc. an environmental consultancy with decades of experience helping landowners monetize environmental services, to bring you detailed and practical info on this critical topic.

Conservation finance, also known as payments for ecosystem (or environmental) services, or PES, is an increasingly common way for responsible landowners to diversify their income streams. From the societal or economic perspective, it is one mechanism by which we have begun to try to accurately value (i.e. set a price in the market) previously non-valued services and products of healthy land and good stewardship, like carbon sequestration, clean and abundant water, clean air, or wildlife.

A variety of approaches, including conservation easements, wetland mitigation banking, grassland carbon sequestration and watershed investment funds, pay landowners for the ecological services they provide. Conservation finance can help landowners increase and diversify their cash flows, amid societal pressures to produce agricultural goods in greater quantities and of higher quality.

Publications about the economics of stewardship

Agricultural Water Users’ Preferences for Addressing Water Shortages in the Colorado River Basin

The Colorado River Basin is in crisis. There is no longer enough water for all of those who depend on it. The agricultural sector is the largest water user in…

2023 National Policy Platform

As landowners and land managers, we recognize that well-managed working lands are the cornerstones of both human communities and the ecosystems on which we all depend. We know what it…

Securing Your Legacy on the Land, Part 5: Best Practices of Non-Resident Landowners

How is succession planning different for non-resident or "absentee" landowners? With this ownership type becoming more and more common in the West, how can these landowners best steward their investment to the next generation?

Securing Your Legacy on the Land, Part 4: Considerations when transferring your property

How does one begin the task of planning for the transfer of a family business, real estate and farm or ranch?

Paying for Stewardship

This guide presents some ways landowners can earn compensation for their stewardship efforts directly or indirectly—schemes sometimes referred to as payments for ecosystem services, ecosystem services markets, or conservation finance. It goes beyond description to provide illustrative case studies of these strategies at work.

Securing Your Legacy on the Land, Part 3: Alternate Ownership Structures

What factors should you consider when selecting an ownership structure for your ranch? What questions should you be sure to answer before deciding? What are differences between an LLC, a C Corporation, and an S Corporation? What are the benefits to partnership, cooperative or shared ownership structures, and what are the drawbacks? Why or when would someone choose a less common ownership structure?

Securing Your Legacy on the Land, Part 2: Family Governance

What defines "family governance" and what key factors drive the type of governance structure a family puts into place? How does one effectively integrate family members into its governing structure? What are some governance issues one encounters when creating and administering trusts?

Conservation Economics on Western Working Lands

Conservation is a form of economics What policy conditions would empower landowners to allocate time, talent and resources to biodiversity and connectivity? This question is the center of this paper,…

Securing Your Legacy on the Land, Part 1

When should a succession plan be put in place? Who should be involved? What are the basic components of a farm or ranch business succession plan? Who can help put it in place?

Toward a Healthy & Productive West

Six common sense principles endorsed by more than 130 organizations light the path to a better West. We urge Congress and the Administration to advance these principles to achieve rural economic health and a productive agricultural sector, provide for our human needs, and protect the landscapes in which we live and work.

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