Habitat Exchanges: Next Generation Mitigation

Friday, October 24, 2014: 1:25 PM
Ampitheater (Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center)
David Wolfe , EDF, Austin, TX
Habitat markets are an emerging tool for achieving habitat mitigation to avoid, minimize and offset development impacts.  The rapid expansion of energy development across the U.S. West, in combination with a court ruling that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must make a listing decision for hundreds of at-risk species over the next few years, are collectively serving as a powerful driver for these markets. Habitat exchanges are a form of habitat markets that provide administrative and regulatory support to empower private landowners and public lands managers to participate in mitigation markets that are scientifically sound, transparent, fair, and which yield measurable and sustainable benefits to species at local and landscape scales. A particular strength of habitat exchanges is their ability to enroll large numbers of landowners across large landscapes relatively quickly, which is an essential characteristic for reversing declines and achieving conservation goals for landscape-dependent species. This presentation will provide an overview of habitat exchange design and implementation, including a discussion of where exchanges fit within the broader framework of environmental markets. We will discuss our experience of working with diverse groups of stakeholders to develop habitat exchanges for the lesser prairie-chicken, greater sage-grouse, and multiple species in California, and provide details on the basic elements of these systems including their structure, operational roles and responsibilities, and supporting regulatory frameworks.