Habitat Credit Trading Offers Conservation Incentives

USDA, Department of the Interior and Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies sign agreement to create market-based incentives for habitat protection.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service, and Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies are partnering to evaluate endangered species habitat credit trading.

Directors from each group signed an agreement Friday agreeing to explore ways to coordinate programs and activities to assist habitat credit trading markets as way to increase the conservation of endangered or at-risk species habitat.

"Habitat credit trading is a great way to restore, protect and promote conservation of lands that are home to endangered species," says NRCS Chief Arlan Lancaster. "We all benefit from healthy ecosystems. Allowing landowners to earn additional revenue for their conservation efforts is the future of sound environmental stewardship."

Habitat credit banks act much like a savings account but instead of money, credits are earned for land preservation of the habitat. The credits can then be sold to land use industries or others, who are required to mitigate the loss of habitat by the Endangered Species Act and other laws that restrict or prohibit development. This approach aims to offer incentives to landowners who preserve and enhance the habitat of endangered or at-risk species. While preserving habitat, landowners can profit by selling credits to parties who need to compensate for environmental impacts.

For more information on the market based approach and the NRCS strategic plan please go online to: www.nrcs.usda.gov/about/strategicplan/ or for FWS guidelines on conservation banks visit endangered.fws.gov/policies/conservation-banking.pdf.

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