New Mission Wider Reach

NEW PUBLIC INTEREST COMMITTEE

Broadening GERA's Membership and Programs
Pam Sunderland, Clean Water Land

The GERA Board has approved an initiative to expand its new member outreach and programs to engage more nonprofit natural resource conservation stakeholders. This group includes land trusts, conservancies, riverkeepers, educational institutions and others that essentially represent and promote the public interest in ecosystem services and restoration initiatives.

Conservation Nonprofits can broaden their understanding and contribute their expertise to developing opportunities and addressing challenges associated with mitigation banking. In addition to their respective mission compatibilities with GERA, nonprofit conservation groups serve as important catalysts to a successful ecosystem marketplace, and ultimately become the benefactors of mitigation market success through improved watersheds. Mitigation lands provide connectivity to and buffers for other conservation lands, enabling larger protected landscapes, more sustainable ecosystems, and more economically feasible collaborative approaches to watershed conservation.

Land trusts in particular play key roles in mitigation, with the most hands on as the professional third party stewards and qualified holders of permanent conservation easements on mitigation lands. Land trusts can also serve as benefactors and project partners by implementing in lieu of fee funded projects and leveraging mitigation banker investments as finance mechanisms for restoring, enhancing and preserving targeted conservation areas.

Riverkeepers are also key partners and benefactors in the mitigation banking industry. They are the watchful eye and whistleblowers for unauthorized impacts to resources and for advocacy of regulatory enforcement and legal action in response to violations. Their awareness and support of the existing credit market as the first and best option for appropriate compensatory action is critical to replacing lost ecosystem functions appropriately and for fueling a viable credit market.

As a former land trust leader and cross pollinator of public and private conservation partnerships, it’s my pleasure to drive this initiative and incubate the new Public Interest Committee (PIC) as chairman. Currently GERA has 5 nonprofit member organizations and each of these organization’s member representatives have graciously agreed to serve on the new Public Interest Committee. We hope to help shape the public interest aspects of GERA from the inside out, drawing from our own experiences and perspectives to engage peer organizations.

The PIC’s first task was revising GERA’s mission statement as an affirmative step in broadening its membership and programs to the nonprofit sector. The new mission statement was approved by the membership and can be found on the GERA website homepage. The committee will be working next on engaging a long list of nonprofit organizations, and further, in developing a portion of the annual meeting program geared toward this sector.

We hope that current GERA mitigation banking members will help to welcome, educate and learn from these new members as the association grows and becomes more diverse, robust and influential in developing Georgia’s ecosystem marketplace.

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Public Interes Committee Mission Statement.pdf200.9 KB