About Ecological Offsets
An ecological offset is a market enterprise that offers landowners incentives to protect species and their habitat. Landowners can profit from selling habitat or species credits to parties who need to compensate for adverse impacts to these species. Landowners can generate income, keep large parcels of land intact, and possibly reduce their taxes.
Ecological offsets are permanently protected lands that contain natural resource values. These lands are conserved and permanently managed for species that are endangered, threatened, candidates for listing, or are otherwise species-at-risk. Ecological offsets function to offset adverse impacts to these species that occurred elsewhere, sometimes referred to as off-site mitigation. In exchange for permanently protecting the land and managing it for these species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) approves a specified number of habitat or species credits that bank owners may sell. Developers or other project proponents who need to compensate for the unavoidable adverse impacts their projects have on species may purchase the credits from conservation bank owners to mitigate their impacts.
What is a credit?
A credit is a defined unit of trade related to habitat or species of interest at the bank site. A credit may be equivalent to:
- an acre of habitat for a particular species;
- the amount of habitat required to support a breeding pair;
- a wetland unit along with its supporting uplands; or
- some other measure of habitat or its value to the listed species.
Methods of determining available credits may rely on ranking or weighting of habitats based on habitat condition and/or function, size of the parcel,
or other factors.
What is a service area?
The service area for an ecological offset bank is the area outside the bank property within which the bank owner may sell credits. The FWS determines
service areas for ecological offset banks based on physical and ecological attributes such as watersheds, soil types, species recovery units,
and/or species and population distributions. Banks with more than one type of credit may have different service areas designated for different
This information was provided by the US Fish and Wildlife Service READ MORE
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