Transferring the benefit of USA and European No Net Loss policies to Italy — a guest post by Ariadna Chavarria

This is a guest post by Ari­adna Chavar­ria, PhD can­di­date at the Uni­ver­sity of Padova, Italy. This com­ment is the expres­sion of the author’s thoughts and expe­ri­ences and 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 Ariadna’s rea­son­ing), please leave a reply below!

The Bio­di­ver­sity and No Net Loss Strat­egy arise aware­ness among Europe to act urgently to halve the bio­di­ver­sity loss and reach restora­tion of at least 15% of Euro­pean degraded ecosys­tems by 2020 (Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, 2011). The strate­gies invite the Mem­ber States to use new instru­ments to achieve NNL of bio­di­ver­sity and ecosys­tem ser­vices as for instance the imple­men­ta­tion of bio­di­ver­sity off­set­ting schemes (Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, 2011; Con­way, M., et al., 2013b). Bio­di­ver­sity off­sets are mea­sur­able con­ser­va­tion out­comes of the actions imple­mented to com­pen­sa­tion for unavoid­able bio­di­ver­sity impacts derived from devel­op­ment projects, after con­sid­er­ing the mit­i­ga­tion hier­ar­chy (ten Kate, et al., 2004). There­fore, bio­di­ver­sity off­sets are a set of poli­cies reg­u­lated and insti­tu­tion­al­ized to trade Ecosys­tem Ser­vices through stan­dard units, ‘cred­its’, com­monly pro­vided by landown­ers man­ag­ing habi­tats to con­serve spe­cific envi­ron­men­tal assets. The cred­its are reg­u­lated by the envi­ron­men­tal agen­cies ensur­ing the deliv­ery of envi­ron­men­tal assets on the ground to equi­tably com­pen­sate for the impacts of pub­lic and/or pri­vate devel­op­ing per­mit­tees. This market-based mech­a­nism pro­vide a more time-, cost– and ecologically-effective off­set­ting alter­na­tive (Eppink and Wät­zold, 2009; Vais­sière, A. and Lev­rel, H., 2015; van Teef­fee­len, A., et al., 2015), by using economies of scale to finance to sus­tain the long-term man­age­ment of ES exchanged in the bio­di­ver­sity mar­ket. The lack of poli­cies to imple­ment mech­a­nisms financ­ing and reg­u­lat­ing high value nat­ural ecosys­tems inside and out Natura 2000 sites has con­tributed to the deple­tion of the Euro­pean nat­ural capital.

In the 70’s, the United States devel­oped and started imple­ment­ing, in the 80’s, Con­ser­va­tion and Mit­i­ga­tion Bank­ing as reg­u­lated market-based mech­a­nism to direct con­ser­va­tion actions for estab­lish­ing, pre­serv­ing and restor­ing habi­tats for the listed threat­ened and endan­gered species, accord­ing to the Endan­gered Species Act (1973) and the Clean Water Act (1972). Con­ser­va­tion and Mit­i­ga­tion Bank­ing con­sist in the cre­ation of envi­ron­men­tal assets mea­sured in cred­its in advance of the occur­rence of unavoid­able resid­ual impacts of devel­op­ment projects. The rea­son of bio­di­ver­sity bank­ing pop­u­lar­ity in the USA and favor­able out­comes shown by banks does not limit to the busi­ness attain­ment of bankers (Mad­sen et al., 2010; Mad­sen et al, 2011; Denisoff and DeY­oung, 2011), but to the con­ser­va­tion achieve­ments the prac­ti­tion­ers have encoun­tered for species, habi­tat and the linked ecosys­tem func­tions (Denisoff and DeY­oung, 2011; USFWS, 2014; Bun­net al., 2014; Mann, C. and Absher, 2014). In Europe, France, Ger­many, (manda­to­rily) and Eng­land (vol­un­tar­ily) have imple­mented sim­i­lar bio­di­ver­sity bank­ing mech­a­nisms (Mad­sen et al., 2010; Mad­sen et al., 2011; Con­way et al., 2013a) to address the gap between the Euro­pean Envi­ron­men­tal Impacts Com­pen­sa­tion Reg­u­la­tions (Habi­tat Direc­tive 92/43/EEC art 6[3] and 6[4]; Bird Direc­tive 2009/147/EC; and Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Assess­ment Direc­tive 85/337/EEC) and the lack of com­pen­sa­tion alter­na­tives. These market-based pro­grams, rec­og­nized as Off­set­ting Sup­ply, Com­pen­sa­tion Pools and Bio­di­ver­sity Bank­ing in France, Ger­many and Eng­land, respec­tively, are set­ting the ground for more advance financ­ing mech­a­nisms for the con­ser­va­tion of the Euro­pean threat­ened and endan­gered species and habitats.

Italy hosts nearly 50% of the plant species and 30% of the ani­mal species of all Europe (ISPRA, 2014). In Italy 8 m2 per sec­ond are being paved, aris­ing nearly 720 km2 of cemented soil (ISPRA, 2014). The high urban­iza­tion rate and the low com­pen­sa­tion actions of such land use changes are caus­ing the decre­ment of per­me­able land impor­tant for sus­tain­ing the bio­di­ver­sity, hydric reten­tion and other ES. Today, only the annex 1 projects of the Habi­tat Direc­tive that have sig­nif­i­cant impacts over Natura 2000 sites are required to carry out com­pen­sa­tion mea­sures in Italy, with­out a con­sid­er­able pos­i­tive impact for con­ser­va­tion. The devel­op­ment of a bio­di­ver­sity off­set­ting scheme for Italy would intro­duce a mod­ern solu­tion to tackle the Net Loss of ES. The use if ecosys­tem assets val­u­a­tion tools as InVEST and ARIES will pro­vide the sci­ences to sup­port the reg­u­lar­iza­tion and insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion of a mod­ern market-based mech­a­nism directed to con­serve high value nat­ural areas in the Ital­ian Ter­ri­tory. The iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and map­ping of the ES most threat­ened and depleted by devel­op­ment projects, together with the map­ping of the ES deliv­ered by the nat­ural areas need­ing restora­tion, would pro­vide the sci­ences needed behind the imple­men­ta­tion of an off­set­ting mech­a­nism. There­fore, increased fea­si­bil­ity and cred­i­bil­ity would sup­port the reg­u­la­tion and insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion of an Ital­ian off­set­ting mech­a­nism with more effec­tive results on the ground. In prac­tice, the map­ping of ES deliv­ered by the high val­ued nat­ural lands, as well as the recog­ni­tion, map­ping and val­u­a­tion of the adversely impacted ES due to devel­op­ment projects will inte­grate sci­ence and poli­cies devel­op­ing a reli­able market-based scheme address­ing the No Net Loss of ES due to the high rate of land-use change in Italy. The reg­u­lar­iza­tion and insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion of such scheme would become a power reli­able tool to stan­dard­ize an envi­ron­men­tal impacts com­pen­sa­tion pol­icy eco­nom­i­cally and eco­log­i­cally sustainable.


Bunn, D., Lubell, M. and John­son C. K., 2014a. Reforms could boost con­ser­va­tion bank­ing by landown­ers. Cal­i­for­nia Agri­cul­ture. V. 67 (2), p. 86–95

Con­way, M., Ray­ment, M., White, A., Bermans, S., 2013a. Explor­ing poten­tial demand for and sup­ply of habi­tat bank­ing in the EU and appro­pri­ate design ele­ments for a habi­tat bank­ing scheme– Annexesl.

Con­way, M., Tucker, G., Allen, B., Dickie, I., Hart, K., Ray­ment, M., Schulp, C., van Teef­fe­len, A., 2013b. Pol­icy Options for an EU No Net Loss Ini­tia­tive. Report to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. Insti­tute for Euro­pean Envi­ron­men­tal Pol­icy, London.

Denisoff, C., DeY­oung, G., 2011. The chal­lenge of imple­ment­ing market-based pro­grams by reg­u­la­tory agen­cies. National Wet­lands Newslet­ter, v. 33, no. 4, p 8–9.\

Eppink, F., & Wät­zold, F. (2009). Com­par­ing vis­i­ble and less vis­i­ble costs of the habi­tats direc­tive: The case of ham­ster con­ser­va­tion in Ger­many. Bio­di­ver­sity and Con­ser­va­tion, 18(4), 795–810.

Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, 2011. Our Life Insur­ance, Our Nat­ural Cap­i­tal: An EU Bio­di­ver­sity Strat­egy to 2020 3. 5. 2011. COM (2011) 244. Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, Brus­sels, Bel­gium.

ISPRA (2014), “Inter­vento durante la con­ferenza nazionale su sta­tus e mon­i­tor­ag­gio della con­ser­vazione”, Pre­sen­ta­tion at the National Con­fer­ence on Con­ser­va­tion Sta­tus and Mon­i­tor­ing, Rome, ISPRA and Ital­ian Min­istry of Envi­ron­ment and Land and Sea Pro­tec­tion. Retrieved from:

Mad­sen, Becca, Car­roll, N., Brands, M., and Kelly, 2010. State of Bio­di­ver­sity Mar­kets: Off­set and Com­pen­sa­tion Pro­grams World­wide. For­est Trends, Ecosys­tem Mar­ket­place. Wash­ing­ton D.C. Avail­able at: http://www.ecosystemmarketplace. com/documents/acrobat/sbdmr.pdf

Mad­sen, Becca, Car­roll, N., Kandy, D. and Ben­nett G., 2011. Update: State of Bio­di­ver­sity Mar­kets. For­est Trends, Ecosys­tem Mar­ket­place. Wash­ing­ton D.C. Avail­able at: http://www.

Mann, C. and Absher, J. D., 2014. Adjust­ing pol­icy to insti­tu­tional, cul­tural and bio­phys­i­cal con­text con­di­tions: The case of con­ser­va­tion bank­ing in Cal­i­for­nia. Land Use Pol­icy. V.36, 73–82

ten Kate K., Bishop J., Bayon R. (2004), Bio­di­ver­sity off­sets: views, expe­ri­ence and the busi­ness case, Gland, Switzer­land and Cam­bridge, UK and Insight Invest­ment, Lon­don, UK, IUCN-The World Con­ser­va­tion Union.

USFWS, US Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice. 2014. Greater Sage-Grouse. Range-wide mit­i­ga­tion frame­work. Ver­sion 1.0. Sep­tem­ber 3, 2014. Page 19

Vais­sière, A. and Lev­rel, H., 2015. Bio­di­ver­sity off­set mar­kets: What are they really? An empir­i­cal approach to wet­land mit­i­ga­tion bank­ing. Eco­log­i­cal Eco­nom­ics. V. 110, p. 81–88.

van Teef­fee­len, A., Opdam, P., Wät­zold, F., Flo­rian, H., Johst, K., Dreschler, M., Vos, C. C., Wis­sel S. and Quétier, F., 2015. Eco­log­i­cal and eco­nomic con­di­tions and asso­ci­ated insti­tu­tional chal­lenges for con­ser­va­tion bank­ing in dynamic land­scapes. Lan­scape and Urban Plan­ning. v. 130, p. 64–72.

About Ari­adna Chavarria

She has a MSc in Forestry and Envi­ron­ment at the Uni­ver­sity of Padua, where cur­rently she is cur­rently pur­su­ing a PhD on ecosys­tem ser­vices, envi­ron­men­tal impacts assess­ment, envi­ron­men­tal impacts com­pen­sa­tion schemes and bio­di­ver­sity bank­ing (2013–2016).

Besides, Ari­adna have col­lab­o­rated in market-research projects for FSC® cer­ti­fied non-timber for­est prod­ucts, as well as projects on sus­tain­able devel­op­ment and nat­ural resources man­age­ment, REDD projects and for­est cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, guide­lines devel­op­ment and per­son­nel train­ing on green pub­lic pro­cure­ment, and most recently, the devel­op­ment of fair trade stan­dards for wood prod­ucts at ETIFOR srl.

Today, Ari­adna is an intern at the USFish and Wildlife Ser­vice where she is respon­si­ble for the Over­sight and Com­pli­ance of the Con­ser­va­tion Banks in oper­a­tion in the Sacra­mento Region in Cal­i­for­nia, USA (Region 8 of the USFWS). Ari­adna has gained expe­ri­ence in the field of eval­u­a­tion and assess­ment of envi­ron­men­tal impacts and the poli­cies and vol­un­tary mech­a­nisms in USA and Europe to off­set the loss of biodiversity.

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>