Conservation Banking: Policy & Practice, Opportunities & Challenges


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Written by Deborah Mead, National Conservation Banking Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Conservation Banking: Policy & Practice, Opportunities & Challenges

  1. 1. Conservation Banking: Policy & Practice, Opportunities & Challenges Deborah Mead, US Fish and Wildlife Service Biodiversity Offsets in Canada Conference Ottawa – 13 February 2014
  2. 2. What is a conservation bank?   Definition: a site or suite of sites containing natural resource values that are conserved and managed in perpetuity for specified endangered, threatened, or other at-risk species and used to offset impacts occurring elsewhere to the same type of resource (i.e., in-kind, off-site compensatory offsets). Conservation banking should result in a net species conservation benefit (e.g., contribution to recovery for federally listed species). Expectation is a net gain for species or ecological lift which serves to manage risk when accepting compensatory mitigation.
  3. 3. Credit Determination Methodology  Should be based on species conservation strategy/framework; focus on species recovery  Site banks within a landscape context  Methodology should work in conjunction with adverse effects determinations at impact sites  Ranges from simple to complex—keep it as simple as possible at the bank user-end  Credit methodologies can be used to encourage landowner participation in targeted areas
  4. 4. Service Areas A service area is the geographic area within which credit trading occurs for a particular conservation bank  service areas are determined by USFWS  service areas are biologically justifiable areas based on species recovery units, watersheds, species population structures, or other ecological considerations San Joaquin Kit Fox Photo: Heather Bell
  5. 5. Legal Authorities – Laws, Regulations and Policies           Endangered Species Act Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act National Environmental Policy Act Clean Water Act / Rivers and Harbors Act Oil Pollution Act & CERCLA (NRDA) E.O. 13186 (migratory birds) National Defense Authorization Act Magnuson-Stevens Act USFWS 2003 Conservation Banking Policy Other Federal and State Laws, Regs, and Policies
  6. 6. Why choose conservation banking over individual, on-site, permitteeresponsible mitigation? Valley elderberry longhorn beetle Photo: Theresa Sinicrope Talley
  7. 7. Banks are generally better at: Avoiding piecemeal mitigation and small indefensible “avoidance areas” Avoidance ≠ indirect impacts Hostage Lot: Example of ineffective, onsite mitigation
  8. 8. Banks are generally better at: Aiding in recovery of listed species – contributing to recovery plan goals Contributing to existing and planned community conservation strategies (e.g., Habitat Conservation Plans, State Wildlife Action Plans, Green Infrastructure Plans) Streamlining the permit processes for all Reducing the unit cost of mitigation
  9. 9. Banks are generally better at:  Providing a means to effectively offset cumulative impacts of many small projects — combat “Death by 1000 cuts!”  Reducing agency time spent tracking compliance and monitoring mitigation sites  Reducing the need for enforcement actions  Bringing the regulatory, development and environmental communities together
  10. 10. Stewardship: Management & $$ BANK Real Estate Assurances
  11. 11. RIBITS Regulatory In-lieu fee and Bank Information Tracking System (RIBITS) All conservation banks approved by USFWS & NMFS are being loaded into RIBITS and are expected to be visible to the public later this year. Mud Slough Mitigation Bank Photo: Jaimee Davis/USACE
  12. 12. What drives the conservation banking market? ODOT Vernal Pool Bank Photo: Jaimee Davis/USACE
  13. 13. Currently, it is permit applications for incidental take authorization for listed species under the Endangered Species Act that drives the market. Conservation banking could be expanded to voluntary markets for non-listed, at-risk species. Prairie Chicken Photo: USFWS
  14. 14. Lessons Learned–Recommendations       Stakeholder Cooperation: the level of trust among and between the various parties involved largely determines the success of conservation banking programs. Trust is key! Pay attention to cumulative losses; get compensation for all losses Factor temporal loss and other risk factors into mitigation ratios Durability is necessary to achieve sustainability Don’t create unfair marketplaces Use a landscape level approach; track losses & gains
  15. 15. Questions? Photo credit: Kim Keating/USGS