Biodiversity banking

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Biodiversity banking, also known as biodiversity trading or conservation banking, is a process by which biodiversity loss can be reduced by creating a framework which allows biodiversity to be reliably measured, and market based solutions applied to improving biodiversity. Biodiversity banking provides a means to place a monetary value on ecosystem services.

In the United States a "mitigation banking" process applies to impacts on wetlands. It requires that developers firstly avoid harm to wetlands, but if harm is considered unavoidable, then wetland habitat of similar function and values must be "protected, enhanced or restored" to compensate for those that will be damaged. The process comes under the US Clean Water Act 1972 the US Army Corps of Engineers regulations [1] and the commitment to "no net loss" of wetlands habitat.

Since about 2000 the term "species banking", sometimes called "conservation banking", has applied to impacts on species of special concern, typically those that are listed by state and federal agencies under the U.S. Endangered Species Act or its state-based equivalent. Similar to wetlands banks, conservation banks are designed as compensation for impacts to listed species or their habitat, ensuring a similar no net loss policy for these biodiversity resources.

Compensation for impacts to a stream riparian zone may also be required in relation to the linear distance of lost stream functions resulting from stream bank structures (e.g., concrete or rip rap), sedimentation, channelization, dredging or similar activities.

Two biodiversity banking schemes operating in Australia are the New South Wales BioBanking scheme,[2] which commenced in 2008, and the Victorian Native Vegetation Management Framework scheme. Both schemes apply particularly to developers, where biodiversity values will be reduced through land clearing and building development. The framework requires developers to source biodiversity credits through a market mechanism to offset biodiversity loss.

Listed species, critical habitat, wetlands and stream habitat are all components of biodiversity ecosystem services. Taken collectively, they may be referred to as "biodiversity banks".

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Further reading[edit]

  • Bayon, Ricardo; Fox, Jessica; Carroll, Nathaniel (2007). Conservation and Biodiversity Banking A Guide to Setting Up and Running Biodiversity Credit Trading Systems. Earthscan. ISBN 978-1-84407-471-6. 

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