Manifesto for conservation banks in Spain — a guest post by Mercados de Medio Ambiente

This is a guest post by Mer­ca­dos de Medio Ambi­ente, a plat­form for the pro­mo­tion of envi­ron­men­tal mar­kets by Span­ish con­sul­tancy ECOACSA. 

This com­ment has pre­vi­ously been pub­lished on Mer­ca­dos de Medio Ambi­ente. It is the expres­sion of the author’s thoughts and expe­ri­ences and as such is acknowl­edged as a fruit­ful con­tri­bu­tion to the dis­cus­sion on bio­di­ver­sity off­sets. If you want to react or clar­ify your own posi­tion (under­pin or dis­prove) , please leave a reply below!

The “Envi­ron­men­tal Assess­ment Act”, passed in late 2013, intro­duced an inter­est­ing nov­elty in the field of bio­di­ver­sity con­ser­va­tion: nature con­ser­va­tion banks . A tool that aims to imple­ment a mech­a­nism that con­tributes to the effec­tive­ness of com­pen­satory mea­sures in Spain, at the same time pro­vides oppor­tu­ni­ties for devel­op­ment in rural areas.

Cur­rently, the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Food and Envi­ron­ment (Magrama) is han­dling the nor­ma­tive devel­op­ment of con­ser­va­tion banks and since some asso­ci­a­tions of landown­ers and other orga­ni­za­tions have launched an ini­tia­tive to col­lect sig­na­tures in sup­port of this model which aims to involve the pri­vate sec­tor in the con­ser­va­tion of nature by devel­op­ing actions to pro­tect, improve or restore bio­di­ver­sity in the long term, prof­itable and cov­ered with eco­log­i­cal, legal and finan­cial guarantees.

Why this inter­est in defend­ing con­ser­va­tion banks? What exactly is this mech­a­nism that pur­sues the con­ser­va­tion of our nat­ural resources in time and effec­tively? Sim­ply put, a con­ser­va­tion bank is an area where the pro­tec­tion, enhance­ment or restora­tion of threat­ened species and habi­tats, which is man­aged and main­tained in the  long term, is ensured. It is an instru­ment that guar­an­tees the con­tri­bu­tion of envi­ron­men­tal wealth (or bio­di­ver­sity) which is mea­sured in the form of envi­ron­men­tal cred­its. Envi­ron­men­tal cred­its gen­er­ated in a con­ser­va­tion bank can be pur­chased by oper­a­tors or devel­op­ers in order to off­set unavoid­able impacts on the same species or habi­tats for which the bank was cre­ated with the pur­pose that in the end a “net gain” of bio­di­ver­sity  is obtained.

Con­ser­va­tion banks allow com­pen­satory mea­sures in projects that adversely affect bio­di­ver­sity to meet the legal envi­ron­men­tal require­ments through envi­ron­men­tal cred­its. They also ensure the con­ser­va­tion of these nat­ural val­ues gen­er­ated, and pro­vide envi­ron­men­tal, legal and finan­cial actions related to the con­ser­va­tion mea­sures. Con­ser­va­tion banks have sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits for soci­ety and admin­is­tra­tion, allow­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of com­pen­sa­tion mea­sures that are real, effec­tive and inte­grated into spa­tial plans and strate­gies for bio­di­ver­sity con­ser­va­tion. They are a tool for the care and sus­te­nance of ecosys­tems, which enables busi­nesses and landown­ers involved in the con­ser­va­tion of the nat­ural envi­ron­ment to make the com­mit­ment to care for nature prof­itable and to boost job creation.

Con­ser­va­tion banks are not tools that sup­port the devel­op­ment of harm­ful activ­i­ties for nature, in con­trast, they allow for the com­pen­sa­tion of envi­ron­men­tal dam­age through ade­quate restora­tion mea­sures (bio­di­ver­sity off­sets). This is the last step in the chain of mit­i­gat­ing dam­age to bio­di­ver­sity (mit­i­ga­tion hier­ar­chy) and is to be real­ized in an envi­ron­men­tally ben­e­fi­cial man­ner.
With the arrival of con­ser­va­tion banks, pro­mot­ers of activ­i­ties that impact on bio­di­ver­sity will have the con­tin­u­ing oblig­a­tion to avoid, min­i­mize and repair the impacts. In addi­tion, envi­ron­men­tal com­pen­sa­tion (i.e. bio­di­ver­sity off­sets) that are car­ried for the the dam­age that can not be repaired or restored, can be devel­oped envi­ron­men­tally sound and guar­an­tee con­ser­va­tion.
There are numer­ous ben­e­fits from this tool. In order to ensure that its reg­u­la­tions incor­po­rate the key ele­ments to pro­vide that all pro­ce­dures involved are rig­or­ous, trans­par­ent and effec­tive, some landown­ers and rural asso­ci­a­tions and other orga­ni­za­tions have launched a man­i­festo to sup­port the pol­icy devel­op­ment for con­ser­va­tion banks. They request the following:


Man­i­festo for the reg­u­la­tory devel­op­ment for nature con­ser­va­tion banks.

We, the sig­na­to­ries wish to express our posi­tion in favor of a reg­u­la­tory devel­op­ment for nature con­ser­va­tion banks in Spain and express the essen­tial ele­ments that such reg­u­la­tion should incor­po­rate.
In this con­text, we under­stand that that reg­u­la­tory devel­op­ment must con­tain at least the fol­low­ing references:

  • Com­pli­ance with the prin­ci­ples of the mit­i­ga­tion hier­ar­chy, so that:
  1. in envi­ron­men­tal assess­ment processes there is a clear iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of resid­ual envi­ron­men­tal impacts;

  2. nat­ural com­pen­sa­tion mea­sures (same nat­ural val­ues) are required to off­set these impacts;

  3. the deci­sion on the via­bil­ity of projects is inde­pen­dent of the cho­sen type of (cor­rec­tive or com­pen­satory) measures;

  4. in the event that the project is con­sid­ered envi­ron­men­tally viable, cred­its from con­ser­va­tion banks are only used to off­set the resid­ual envi­ron­men­tal impacts.

  • Tech­ni­cal cri­te­ria for credit allo­ca­tion and sim­ple, trans­par­ent and tech­ni­cally and sci­en­tif­i­cally sound cal­cu­la­tion of resid­ual envi­ron­men­tal impacts.
  • Trans­parency and legal cer­tainty for all par­ties, devel­op­ers, landown­ers and administration.
  • Guar­an­teed eval­u­a­tion by inde­pen­dent third parties.
  • Admin­is­tra­tive sup­port seiz­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ties of com­mu­nity fund­ing.

    This man­i­festo will be endorsed by all those who want to sign it on social net­works, the sig­na­tures will be for­warded to the min­istry (Magrama) elec­tron­i­cally. To adhere to the man­i­festo sim­ply click here and sign the online petition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>