Ahyayha provides a way for persons, companies, and organizations concerned about their environmental Footprint to Payback nature for their impact. A “Payback” is just what it sounds like – except rather than paying a person, we’re paying mother nature – for use of her natural capital. This capital is, technically speaking, hydrologic (water), nutrient (nitrogen, phosphorus), soil, and countless other cycles. Someone or something ends up paying for disruption to these cycles, now or in the future. Ahyayha provides to Project Supporters cool rewards, like bumper stickers (shown here) acknowledging offset of a footprint.
These cycles provide to us and other species environmental services that we cannot live without. As long as we don’t appropriate too much of the cycle, there’s enough for everyone and everything’s cool. But if we begin to use too much of the cycle, and don’t at the same time restore it, nature gets out of whack. Modern economics and technology allows us sometimes to avoid paying for our use of this natural capital – at least temporarily – unknowingly passing the bill for our use onto future generations.
A form of nitrogen, called Reactive Nitrogen, is causing a lot of problems for us and other species. Nitrogen is obviously naturally occuring in the air, water, and soil, but too much of certain forms of nitrogen, this “reactive nitrogen”, along with carbon, is causing problems in streams, rivers, estuaries, and also oceans, worldwide. The metric we use to measure our individual nitrogen impact is called N-print and was developed by the University of Virginia Department of Environmental Sciences, in conjunction with other folks in other parts of the world.
Like nitrogen, phosphorus is also naturally occurring, found in phosphate rock, and is mined in various countries across the globe. Phosphorus is a limiting nutrient in modern agricultural production and its availability allows modern agriculture to be so productive. However, much of this mined phosphorus leaks out of our agricultural cycles into the environment, and like nitrogen, is a major cause of the decline of our streams, rivers, and estuaries.
One of our newest restoration projects, on Smith Creek in the Shenandoah Valley, provides for the first time, voluntary nitrogen reduction certificates, by calculating the amount of nitrogen that is held back as a result of the streambank restoration for specific contribution levels. Through this project, an Ahyayha Supporter can estimate their nitrogen footprint and then contribute an amount to the project that allows Payback of some or all of her yearly impact. We’ll send a signed certificate like the one below indicating the one time sale of an amount of nitrogen reduced from entering the stream.
Our newest project, One Oyster at at Time, (coming late spring, 2013) expands our selection of Paybacks to also include phosphorus reduction certificates. These certificates are scientifically determined and verified using a standard protocol.