Dow Chemical and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) announced a collaboration last year to help Dow consider ecosystem services in its decisions and strategies. A year after the announcement, Dow and TNC released a progress report on the partnership to which Dow has committed $10 million on top of TNC’s expertise.
The partnership will consider three Dow sites, where the company will develop and test methods to value ecosystem services. Only one of the sites has been selected so far, according to the report, and the second one is expected to be identified in Brazil later this year. The first site is at Dow’s Texas operations in Freeport, Dow’s largest integrated manufacturing site, and the largest single-company chemical complex in North America. The Freeport site manufactures 44 percent of the products Dow sells in the U.S., and over 21 percent of Dow’s products globally.
Over 40 Dow and TNC experts met in Freeport last year to decide what ecosystem services the site depends on. The ecosystem services include fresh water, air quality mitigation, coastal natural hazard mitigation:
- Fresh water—The site receives it fresh water supply from the Brazos River. The collaboration identified Brazos River’s “salt wedge” as a problem. Salt water from the Gulf of Mexico migrates tens of miles upriver, reducing the amount of fresh water available. The collaboration will identify ways to increase the availability of water for users and ecosystems in the Lower Brazos River Basin.
- Air quality mitigation—The collaboration is continuing to evaluate the cost effectiveness of planting projects to reduce nitrogen oxides and other contributors to ozone.
- Coastal natural hazard mitigation—The collaboration evaluated the value of coastal marshes, and found that by reducing storm surge during tropical storms, the marshes have direct value to both Dow’s Freeport Operations and everyone else in the region.
Collaboration between Dow and TNC shows that conservation is good for the environment and economy
When Andrew Liveris, chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical announced the collaboration with Mark Tercek, CEO of TNC, he said it was meant to demonstrate that environmental conservation is good for both the environment and the economy.
“Companies that value and integrate biodiversity and ecosystem services into their strategic plans are best positioned for the future by operationalizing sustainability,” Liveris said.
“This project is an example of the type of cooperation required to make real, long-term progress in protecting the earth’s natural systems and the services they provide people.” said Tercek.
Photo credit: Flickr user, Accent on Eclectic