The Landscape Auction: financing conservation
The idea behind the Landscape Auction is a fairly simple: buy and protect what you love. The concept was created by Triple E, a Dutch consulting firm, to finance the protection of nature and wildlife.
Here’s how it works: businesses, organizations, and individuals come together for an auction. They bid on landscape elements, such as a row of hedges, a tree, wildlife habitat, a worker’s salary, a piece of a barn, a piece of farming equipment, walking trails . . . a wide variety of ecological “elements” that need protection. The prices are determined based on the management costs over a specific period of time (perhaps 10 years). When a bidder wins a particular item, they don’t actually own it in a legal sense, rather they have given the money to protect that item and to conserve the landscape over the set timeframe.
All of the money goes towards that one purchased element, for example, keeping a walking trail easily accessible and clear of debris. The bidders “own” that item for the specified amount of time and can go visit and enjoy their hedges, tree, trail . . . knowing that it is being maintained and cared for with their funding.
Bids are tax-deductible as payments go directly to an NGO. This summer, the White River Partnership will hold the first landscape auction in the U.S. Previous auctions have been held in various parts of The Netherlands: the Ooijpolder, the Heuvellandschap and the Gooij. The Ooijpolder is a beautiful part of the country that attracts over 1 million visitors a year. However, there was no financial incentive to maintain the area’s biodiversity since surrounding towns weren’t willing to pay and there are no visiting fees. To create incentive, they held one of the first landscape auctions in 2007, raising EUR 140,000.
This concept is fantastic because companies and individuals alike can support the environment in a tangible way. The value of nature becomes clear. Triple E describes it well:
The Landscape Auction is a marketplace. It connects nature organisations and farmers responsible for the maintenance of our landscape, biological diversity and (cultural) heritage that are in need for financial support with other parties interested to financially support the conservation, restoration and/or sustainable use of particular landscape elements. A Landscape Auction offers you the unique opportunity to support what you consider valuable.
What do you value? What do you think of this mechanism to finance biodiversity? What landscape element would you bid on?
I heard about one item on the auction block that offered a little something extra: it was a section of a barn and if you successfully bid you were entitled to a full day in the barn to do whatever. Perhaps, a roll in the hay?