Conservation Finance: Follow Up to the 2018 ASLA Ecology & Restoration PPN Meeting

By Daniel Martin, Associate ASLA

The Ecology & Restoration PPN Meeting featured presentations by Michael Sprague, President and Founder of Trout Headwaters, Inc., and Damian Holynskyj, M.C.P., Director of the Eastern Region for Great Ecology, hosted by Daniel Martin, Associate ASLA, PPN Co-Chair (2016-2018). / Image: EPNAC
ECOLOGY & RESTORATION PPN MEETING IN PHILADELPHIA

For the annual Ecology & Restoration PPN meeting in October 2018, we were joined by Michael Sprague, President and Founder of Trout Headwaters, Inc., and founding Board Member of the National Environmental Banking Association, as well as Damian Holynskyj, M.C.P., Director of the Eastern Region for Great Ecology. Our discussion covered the big picture of what conservation finance is, how it is situated within the larger economy, and the role landscape architecture fills within the industry.

The conversation that was had between Mr. Sprague, Mr. Holynskyj, and Ecology & Restoration PPN leadership and members is summarized in this document, to serve as a reference for those who were not able to attend, and a jumping-off point for those landscape architects who would like to pursue this topic further.

WHAT IS CONSERVATION FINANCE?

Conservation finance takes many forms, but in the simplest sense it is a way to create economic incentives for conservation and restoration projects. When an economic incentive exists, it opens the door for many different people and organizations to become involved with environmental projects who otherwise might not be. This increases the amount of work that can be done and leverages the specialties of a broad range of professions towards shared goals.

Shared goals; it has become so common to view economy and ecology as two separate entities, related in a fashion which necessitates the degradation of one for the benefit of the other. This is an unfortunate misconception, which Mr. Sprague discussed at length. Looking at the root meanings of ecology and economy, a truer relationship begins to show. Ecology means study of the house and economy means management of the house, so in that sense it can be understood that what is truly good for one ought to be good for the other. In other words, you can’t understand what you don’t study, and you can’t manage what you don’t understand.

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