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USDA spearheads $49m wetland investment

USDA will provide most of the funding for 10 projects to preserve and enhance wetlands, deepening government support for easement projects.

The US Department of Agriculture is investing $44.6 million in wetlands conservation projects across 12 states.

The financing, invested through the USDA’s Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership, will be boosted to $48.9 million by $4.3 million in matching funds contributed by project recipients.

The money will be direct towards 10 projects to protect, restore or enhance 15,000 acres of wetlands in critical watersheds, located on privately and tribal-held agricultural land. Work will be done to mitigate flooding effects, recharge groundwater sources and maintain wildlife habitats in the areas, and the projects will be enrolled in conversation easements.

Conservation easements offer potential additional revenue streams for timber and agri investors. New Mexico Education Retirement Board senior portfolio manager Mark Canavan has previously told Agri Investor that government commitment to mitigation banking is key to lowering its risk profile and encouraging private investment into the sector.

“We know that there’s significant focus on building out investment capability in the US [conservation sector]. On top of that you have a growing movement toward ESG investment philosophy more generally,“ he said.

NMERB recently committed $20 million to Conservation Forestry Capital to invest in working forests that could also deliver returns from conservation easements and other sustainability incentives

Opportunistic private equity giant KKR recently made an undisclosed investment in environmental offset company Resource Environmental Solutions.