The UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has released a green paper on nationwide biodiversity offsets, although the paper has met with criticism from environmental groups arguing offsets should only be used as a last resort after other options have been exhausted. In the US, a land swap in Minnesota between the government and an environmental investment firm could create the country’s largest wetland mitigation bank.
This article was originally published in the MitMail newsletter. Click here to read the original.
12 September 2013 | Greetings! In the US mitigation world, we have a few big headlines this month. A land swap between Ecosystem Investment Partners and Minnesota state and county government would create the country’s largest wetland mitigation bank in St. Louis County. Pennsylvania just got its first commercial bank, while Connecticut finally has an in-lieu fee program. And Restoration Systems is getting into the conservation banking game, with a new partnership with Common Ground Capital recently announced.
Last week, the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) released a green paper on using biodiversity offsets nationwide, asking for public comment. The proposal is based on two years of pilots and extensive review of offset program design, including an Ecosystem Markets Task Force recommendation noting that offsets could restore and protect 300,000 hectares in the UK over the next two decades.
Still, the green paper’s been met with a wave of bad press. Environmental groups say that offsets could equate to a “license to trash,” and that Defra’s creating a “market ripe for abuse.” But at the less hyperbolic end of the spectrum, many of the greens’ concerns – that offsetting should be a last resort after options to avoid or minimize impacts are exhausted, and that offsets should take place as close to the original impact as possible – are widely-accepted principles of effective offsets, and discussed in Defra’s green paper. (The mitigation hierarchy itself is actually already embedded in the National Planning Policy.)
Defra says it’ll only move forward with offsetting if the mechanism can be shown to deliver net gains for biodiversity, streamline planning, and not put economic burdens on business. The consultation period will end on November 7th.
—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team
If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.