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The need for market-based conservation

Conserv hopes to provide a market-based platform for landowners to build green infrastructure throughout the world, working in partnership with government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The platform is a bottom-up process based on the notion that a new generation of conservation programs must find a way to function seamlessly in western-style economies. Conserv does not duplicate the efforts of governments and NGOs, rather, it complements their effectiveness by providing an interface between the real estate market and local, state, and regional efforts to protect biological diversity.


Conserv attempts to fill a void in the real estate marketplace. This void is both substantive and structural. Marketing of real estate in the U.S. is accomplished in many ways, one of the largest of which is multiple listing services (MLS).  MLS systems are geared to the interest of a general purchaser. Clearly, however, there are consumers with more specialized values, interacting with the marketplace as a buyer or seller.


The premise behind Conserv is that there is a subset of real estate consumers more than casually interested in the ecological assets of property. This group of consumers, particularly in areas found within urbanizing portions of the world (where environmental assets become scarce), value the integrity of these assets. To a significant degree, the extent to which the environmentally-minded consumer will expend resources to improve or protect the ecological integrity of a property is based on the degree that the expenditure may be recaptured through the resale of the property.


The great question that remains to be answered is, what stewardship will take place as a result of this effort that would not otherwise occur?  We will regularly examine this question as we move forward. It is important to note, however, that the ultimate success of Conserv is based on landowners’ ability to gain more financial return through stewardship rather than destruction of biodiversity.


Conserv believes that “stewardship” spans education to easements stretching from one generation to the next. While governments and NGOs must define the quality and scale of resources needed (for many reasons, including the fact that markets do not always reflect environmental asset conditions), the allocation of these resources should be left to the marketplace. Conserv exists to begin build a 21st century environmental asset allocation infrastructure.




- Michael Collins


Michael Collins is the Executive Director of Conserv





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