Growing Interest in Habitat Banking
Habitat banking describes the trade in habitat or biodiversity ‘credits’, i.e. areas of land where environmental restoration has taken place that can be bought to compensate for unavoidable habitat destruction through development. This concept has been in practice in the form of wetland mitigation banks in America since the 1980s, and its use is spreading as a means for governments to reduce the biodiversity loss associated with economic growth and development.
A report launched today by the organisation Ecosystem Marketplace provides a summary of the existing schemes around the world, listing 39 such projects in operation and another 25 planned in various countries. It calculates a market of between $1.8 billion and $2.9 billion per year alone from the 20% of projects that provide figures, resulting in the additional conservation management or protection of 86,000 hectares of land per year. There is increasing interest within the EU and the UK of adopting a more formalised habitat banking system, and both the EC and Defra have recently published scoping reports (available here and here) on the subject.
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