A big poker game in Florida in December? I was all in!
Lucky for me, it wasn’t a high stakes hold ‘em tournament but rather an inspiring gathering of folks trying to fundamentally change the way we do conservation. A Community for Ecosystem Services (ACES) is a conference that happens every two years.
Going for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but our pals at Environmental Incentives had participated for many years, and they encouraged us to attend. In fact, they check-raised us into giving a talk about Sitka’s experience building tools that scale.
Slide from my "Tools that Scale" presentation
The conference attracts conservationists, policy makers, economists, investors, and a smattering of technologists. Amongst the 500 or so attendees were folks from Nigeria, Sweden, UK, India, Australia, and the United States, many of whom have been working to establish ecosystem markets in their communities for many years.
It was inspiring to learn how far this emergent approach to balancing economies, ecologies, and communities has come over the past decade – the optimistic theorizing and planning has given way to implementing and pragmatic refining – which provided a good entrée to my talk on how to use technology to scale ecosystem service-based programs. For example, leveraging industry best practices when you realize you need to move past spreadsheets.
Based on conversations during the conference and after my talk, there is a healthy appetite for smart technology applications to help ecosystem markets reach their full potential.
It was also nice to balance out the trip with some fly-fishing beforehand with a local guide, Rich Santos (highly recommend!), and a field trip with other conference attendees to the Guana River State Park and Wildlife Area.