World Resources Institute Watershed Water Analysis The World Resources Institute is leading an analysis of watershed conservation projects that have been funded by the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS has funded dozens of projects to develop payment for watershed service and credit trading programs. The purpose of this project is to secure the final products from these projects and analyze them for lessons learned. The results of this project will then be used to help guide future NRCS and other programs focused on watershed protection.The project will meet a strong demand from watershed stakeholders nationwide for tools and guidance to improve the success and financial sustainability of incentive-based approaches to forested watershed conservation. This will, in turn, increase the likelihood of positive engagement in such programs by Enivironmental Quaility Incentives Program (EQIP) - eligible landowners. Project results will also be useful for NRCS grant making and technical assistance programs. Improving the success of Source Water Protection projects will provide new revenue streams for landowners, protect drinking water sources, and conserve important wildlife habitat. Simply stated, results from this analysis of previously-funded NRCS projects will enhance the success of future efforts, by avoiding duplication, saving time and money and accelerating conservation outcomes.Markets and other incentive-based source water protection programs are promising innovations that have been catalogued and tracked but never systematically analyzed. This project addresses clear needs for this evolving innovation through four core components:
Comparative analysis to identify key enabling conditions, obstacles, and success factors, and to demonstrate how programs have benefited landowners and rural communities.
Synthesis of findings to create a step-by-step guidance and diagnostic tool for local stakeholders to apply in their watersheds to identify missing enabling conditions and elements of success, and to identify the key economic parameters that watershed decision makers rely on and the role economic analysis can play in decision making.
Overlay with the USDA Forest Service’s Forest to Faucets mapping data with existing projects, resulting in identification of the top ten watersheds with untapped opportunity for the incentive-based SWP approach.
Intensive outreach to a broad set of stakeholders nationwide and in select watersheds for input and feedback on project products, to pilot test the diagnostic, and to disseminate and facilitate uptake of final project products.
This comparative assessment is essential for developing a collective understanding of best practices in the use of incentives for source water protection by building upon the lessons learned in local watershed efforts across the country. The diagnostic, economic best practices and mapping overlay we propose are key components of a “conveyor belt” strategy to transfer, adopt, and scale incentive-based source water protection nationwide by giving watershed stakeholders a roadmap for success. Scaling-up this innovation means that dollars now spent only on concrete and steel can also flow to landowners for conservation, boosting rural economies, preserving our landscapes of working lands, and enhancing co-benefits like recreation, wildlife, and air quality.This multi-faceted undertaking addresses several CIG FY2013 priorities, including: the CIG projects assessment to identify and recommend fruitful techniques for transfer and adoption of the incentive-based SWP innovation; demonstrations of benefits to landowners and rural communities; tools for assessing the economics of conservation, and efforts to stimulate the development of environmental markets.