Biodiversity offset programs are gaining international attention as a mechanism to harness market forces to conserve ecologically valuable lands in the context of rapid growth and development. Having pioneered the use of conservation banks to mitigate the adverse impact of development projects on species of concern, California is a recognized leader in the implementation of biodiversity offsets. A conservation bank is publicly or privately owned land protected in perpetuity by fee title or easement and is managed to provide habitat for species of concern. A conservation bank is authorized by wildlife agencies to sell credits to developers to mitigate impacts of development projects on wildlife. The California conservation banking program is the oldest and largest in the nation. Yet, the 17-year old program has not been evaluated for its ecological performance. Each conservation bank has a monitoring program to assess whether conservation objectives are being met and to inform adaptive management. Proposed new banks are evaluated by state and federal wildlife agencies in a lengthy process that considers their ecological value and financial soundness. There are numerous technical and financial issues that must be addressed to create and maintain a successful conservation bank. To investigate the performance and potential of the California conservation bank program we conducted three studies focusing on the design and implementation of monitoring programs, the comparative ecological value of bank sites, and the challenges of selecting and managing conservation banks.
In Chapter One, we evaluate the use of covered vertebrate species as management indicator species for assessing the impact of conservation measures at bank sites and offer a decision tool for selecting appropriate indicator species. In Chapter Two, we compare the ecological value of the 29 conservation banks established under the California program, provide a methodology and guidance for assessing the conservation value of proposed new conservation banks, and investigate the importance of regional planning for conservation banks. Chapter Three is our study of the most difficult challenges of selecting and approving new banks sites, and managing their conservation in perpetuity. Based on analyses of bank data and interviews of 36 individuals working on conservation banks for the state and federal wildlife agencies or in the private sector, the most difficult challenges are identified and policy solutions are offered that will help to maximize the potential of conservation banking.
|Advisor:||Johnson, Christine K.|
|Commitee:||Lubell, Mark, Moyle, Peter B.|
|School:||University of California, Davis|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-B 74/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Conservation banking, Endangered species, Habitat conservation, Indicator species, Mitigation|
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