NACD and AFT Release Water Quality Trading Handbook

CONTACT: Stephanie Addison, National Association of Conservation Districts
(202) 547-6223; stephanie-addison[at]

CONTACT: Brian Brandt, American Farmland Trust
(614) 430-8130; bbrandt[at]

January 17, 2018

NACD and AFT Release Water Quality Trading Handbook

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) and American Farmland Trust (AFT) released a handbook to highlight the role conservation districts play in water quality trading and other environmental markets programs.

AFT and NACD collaborated to produce the “Handbook for Conservation Districts on Environmental Markets,” which is a detailed look at how conservation districts and their partners are engaged in water quality trading and payments for ecosystem services. The handbook provides guidance and lessons learned from the real-world experiences of conservation districts across the country. This three-year project was funded by a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant.

The handbook is meant to help conservation districts determine potential roles in water quality trading and other environmental markets programs. It includes key findings and recommendations, nine case studies from conservation districts across the country, and a checklist for conservation districts interested in water quality trading and other environmental markets.

The report and its key components can be reviewed on NACD’s website and AFT’s website.

“This is a first-of-a-kind effort that provides relevant information and guidance on water quality trading and other environmental markets directly from conservation districts engaged in the work,” said Jeremy Peters, NACD CEO. “We hope conservation districts across the country will use the information, recommendations and guidance to consider best practices suited for their conservation district’s needs.”

“The report underscores that conservation districts have a major role to play in developing and implementing innovative new programs that help farmers protect water quality and achieve conservation goals on their land,” said Brian Brandt, AFT Director of Agriculture Conservation Innovations. “Farmers and ranchers want to be good stewards of the land, but they need programs like these to support their efforts.”

Conservation districts handle a variety of roles in programs across the country. While the report focuses primarily on water quality trading and payment for ecosystem services programs, it notes that the lessons learned from these programs will help districts evaluate partnership opportunities offered by state certainty, stewardship and supply chain sustainability programs, all of which could have a market component.


About the National Association of Conservation Districts:

The National Association of Conservation Districts is the non-profit organization that represents the nation’s 3,000 conservation districts, their state and territory associations, and the 17,000 men and women who serve on their governing boards. For more than 70 years, local conservation districts have worked with cooperating landowners and managers of private working lands to help them plan and apply effective conservation practices. For more information about NACD, visit:

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