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Expanded Reporting of Global Species Banking

23 March 2011

Below is an article from the SpeciesBanking.com website reporting on the launch of its expanded reporting:

7 March 2011 | The first target of the first goal in the new Strategic Plan drafted by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) aims at “increasing understanding, awareness, and appreciation of the diverse values of biodiversity.”

That's also the goal of SpeciesBanking.com, which has established itself as the leading provider of news and information on the North American mitigation banking sector since its launch in 2008.  This week, it is expanding to include biodiversity financing mechanisms from around the world.

The decision to expand stems from conversations that took place over the course of 2010, which the United Nations declared the 'International Year of Biodiversity',  but which failed to yield agreement on the need – let alone the means – of developing innovative financing for biodiversity protection at the CBD's 10th Conference of the Parties (CBD COP10) in Nagoya, Japan.

Although the much-anticipated Nagoya meeting failed to yield agreement on this most urgent issue, it did catalyze many governments to consider policies and programs that might drive financing for biodiversity protection, including compensation mechanisms that harness new development. 

Over the course of these meetings, it became clear that, if there is one thing that proponents and opponents of biodiversity compensation mechanisms agree on, it's the need for transparency and democratization of information in the early stages of market and institutional development.

In an effort to provide that transparency, Ecosystem Marketplace decided to broaden the coverage of SpeciesBanking.com to cover the entire world.

The Challenge of Going Global

As the expansion began, the Ecosystem Marketplace team expected to find habitat banks similar to the United States around the globe.  Instead, they discovered a diverse array of biodiversity incentives, according to Becca Madsen, the Biodiversity Program Manager at Ecosystem Marketplace.

“There are a lot of different types of incentives and laws and policies that require something like habitat banking but it may be sort of on a one-off basis or it may be paying a fee into a government conservation fund,” she says.  “We wanted to show and provide information about these programs around the world in addition to the habitat banks.  We also knew that we wanted to put the information into an online searchable format.”

Ray Victurine of Wildlife Conservation Society says that no depository of all biodiversity offset incentives is currently available, and he believes that practitioners, academics and project developers looking for ideas and models will find the site especially useful.

“There seems to be growing interest in issues around compensation, around offsets, around species banks around the world and people are looking at the instruments that might be available as a way to protect biodiversity as another tool,” he says.

With this global launch, SpeciesBanking.com looks to cover biodiversity compensation data from around the world, from information on fish habitat banks in Canada to policy developments on biodiversity offsets in Mongolia and everyplace in between.  All in all, the site will continue to include information on the over 900 species, wetland and stream banks in the United States while adding data from over 27 habitat banks around the world and over 60 policies and programs that provide the underlying drivers for biodiversity markets.

“The concepts of offsetting have become quite sophisticated, but there is a limited awareness among policymakers and the general public about what it means to do species banking,” says Joshua Bishop, the Chief Economist at International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). “A global version of SpeciesBanking.com could help demystify this whole thing and remove some of the red flags.”

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