Colorado Conservation Exchange - Collaboration in Action

The successful development of ecosystem service markets involves overcoming a variety of hurdles.  These include identifying sufficient demand, cost effective practices to implement, priority landscapes to focus investment, and low-cost monitoring and verification methodologies, not to mention determining how to build a structure to allow for transactions to occur.


Since December 2010, the CCC has been helping lead a group of organizations to develop an ecosystem services marketplace in Northern Colorado, called the Colorado Conservation Exchange.  As anticipated, all of those hurdles have appeared, and then some.  The initiative’s goal of developing an ecosystem services marketplace has been made even more challenging due to the lack of a strong regulatory driver that most similar markets have been built around.

However, after fourteen months the initiative is stronger than ever.  While most of the hurdles have yet to be overcome, work plans to address them have been developed with the support and guidance of dozens of regional stakeholders.  Herein lies the strength of the initiative. 

The collaborative manner with which the initiative’s leaders have pursued developing the ecosystem services marketplace concept has produced broad support across Northern Colorado from a variety of different stakeholder groups.   This support will be critical for the successful development and long-term sustainability of the Colorado Conservation Exchange because such a marketplace can impact a wide range of landowners, public agencies, organizations and businesses.  So, engaging each group to address their desires and concerns regarding the marketplace not only helps to build an active and durable marketplace, it also allows the initiative’s leaders to draw on the support and expertise of these stakeholders to overcome the various hurdles they face.

On March 5th, the Colorado Conservation Exchange will hold its first regional meeting to bring together representatives of key stakeholder groups.  Working together meeting participants will discuss how best to execute work plans to overcome the various hurdles, establish roles for each participant to help with the execution, and also address concerns that some may have regarding the marketplace.  The key, however, is that we will all be working together.  Only in that manner will the mission of the Colorado Conservation Exchange be fulfilled, which is a Colorado where rural and urban communities join to enhance the natural resources, wildlands, and agricultural areas on which our quality of life depends.