Quantifying habitat losses and gains made by U.S. Species Conservation Banks to improve compensation policies and avoid perverse outcomes

Laura J. Sonter, Megan Barnes, Jeffrey W. Matthews, Martine Maron

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

Abstract

Compensation policies seek to counterbalance biodiversity losses caused by development; however, their effectiveness is rarely tested. We examined U.S. Species Conservation Banks (SCBs) in California, a compensation program initiated 30 years ago. We quantified the effect of 59 SCBs (15,350 ha) on habitat extent using statistical matching methods. SCBs averted a small, yet significant, amount of habitat loss (62 ha) between 2001 and 2011. However, unexpectedly, SCBs also averted significant habitat gains (1,424 ha). It is not possible to determine if losses averted by SCBs equaled losses caused by development for which credits were sold (because records of the latter do not exist), but estimated averted gains were 35 times greater than averted losses. To improve practice, SCBs must be designed to achieve outcomes that are additional and avoid crowding out other programs incentivizing statewide conservation goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12629
JournalConservation Letters
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

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species conservation
habitat loss
habitat destruction
habitat
credit
habitats
policy
conservation banks
biodiversity
statistical analysis
loss

Keywords

  • California
  • biodiversity
  • ecosystem services
  • mitigation
  • offsets
  • statistical matching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Cite this

Quantifying habitat losses and gains made by U.S. Species Conservation Banks to improve compensation policies and avoid perverse outcomes. / Sonter, Laura J.; Barnes, Megan; Matthews, Jeffrey W.; Maron, Martine.

In: Conservation Letters, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

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