California is leading the land conservation movement and the international conservation community is taking notice. Thought leaders and conservationists from across the world gathered in Santiago, Chile for the 2018 Global Congress of the International Land Conservation Network Conference last week. Conservation Strategy Group’s Senior Policy Advisor, Graham Chisholm, was among a handful of California representatives who were invited to participate in the Congress. Other presenters from California included Sam Schuchat, Executive Director of the State Coastal Conservancy, Charles Lester, UC Santa Cruz Researcher and former Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission, and Chris Kelly, California Director of The Conservation Fund.
Graham Chisholm, along with fellow conservationists from the U.S., Chile, and Argentina, led a panel on Designing Mitigation Strategies, which focused on the use of mitigation funding by the land conservation movement. While much of the initial work in this area has been based on a project-by-project approach, there has been increasing interest among the global conservation community in developing more comprehensive approaches to mitigation in order to maximize the conservation value and effectiveness of mitigation projects.
In his presentation, Graham highlighted California’s recently established Regional Conservation Investment Strategy (RCIS) program, one of the most advanced tools for mitigation planning in the state. RCISs are voluntary and non-regulatory plans that assess the conservation needs within a region in order to guide future actions. They can be used to guide investments in resource conservation; guide infrastructure design and siting; identify conservation priorities, including those needed to address climate change; and identify potential mitigation for impacts to wildlife and habitat. In addition, RCISs can serve as the legal basis for the creation of advance mitigation credits which can provide a mechanism for ongoing funding streams for conservation.
CSG worked closely with the conservation community in California to develop the RCIS concept, initiate five RCIS projects around the state, pass legislation to codify the program, and pass subsequent legislation to refine the program after its first year.
CSG continues to work with partners across the state to identify additional RCIS pilots that can address key conservation issues including climate and greenhouse gas impacts, natural and working land conservation, and rural urban connections. Based on the initial success of the RCIS program in California, this concept could be a model for mitigation planning in other parts of the world.
CSG looks forward to participating in future events with the International Land Conservation Network and working with partners around the world to improve conservation outcomes. For more information on our past work on RCISs, please see this blog post about the initial establishment of the program and this blog post about program implementation, or contact Graham Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 916-558-1516. To learn more about other CSG projects and services, check out www.csgcalifornia.com. To stay up to date on major policy issues in California, sign up for our Policy Blog emails here.