Monday, December 15, 2008

Species Banking

Imagine for a moment that you own an acre of valuable land in California and you’d like to build some houses on it. But, to your horror, the government tells you that your land is home to several pairs of a threatened species of wetland bird, the California Black Rail. You cannot build it unless you can find some way to mitigate the damage you will to do this species.

Mitigation, in this case, means protecting an equivalent number of birds or area of habitat in perpetuity elsewhere—as a landowner, you need to find someone ready to protect a similar number of Black Rails somewhere else. American law allows such transactions to take place with the oversight of the government. As a result, a small but thriving industry (around $400m per year) has developed in what is called species banking.

Until now, finding species or land available to trade, even within a single state, has been difficult. A transparent, open market is essential, and that is what is now trying to develop. It posts data on more than 120 mitigation banks across the US, which species they support, and how much they have for sale.
via The Economist

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