How the Forthcoming Species Mitigation Rule May Influence Private Investment in Species Biodiversity 

Fall 2023, Volume 38, Number 2
Natural Resources & Environment

Species conservation banks are a market-based conservation mechanism that aims to protect (prevent further degradation), conserve (maintain ecological processes), and/or restore (replace ecological processes) natural habitats and ecosystems that species depend upon. They work by allowing project proponents and/or developers to buy “credits” from a bank to offset impacts that their project may cause to a given species. The generation of credits for the bank represents the improvement in ecological condition or value to a species after a site has been restored and protected from further degradation. For example, if a developer wants to build on land that has endangered species or habitats, to compensate or offset the potential impacts to those species, the developer can buy credits from a conservation bank. This mitigating purchase is the conceptual foundation upon which the ecological restoration industry purchases property or easements, develops banks, improves ecological conditions, and offers credits for sale, but these investments often happen long before ecological perturbations from commercial industrial projects occur. Conservation banks offer incentives to conserve and enhance biodiversity while simultaneously creating opportunities for public-private partnerships that offer collaborative solutions among stakeholders. However, despite these benefits, conservation banks have historically faced challenges with scaling across the United States because of the lack of comprehensive and integrated national policies, guidance, and/or directives on species mitigation as well as inconsistent demand. 

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