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Trading wetlands no longer a deal with the devil
Date:1/17/2013

d lead to a shift in spatial arrangement of wetlands within a watershed, potentially moving valuable habitat away from certain sections of a watershed or from human communities who value the wetlands in their neighborhood. If it's destroyed and replaced with a bank five miles away, we've lost some societal value," Matthews said.

"Faustian bargains? Restoration realities in the context of biodiversity offset policies" was published in Biological Conservation. Contributing authors include Martine Maron, Richard J. Hobbs, Atte Moilanen, Jeffrey W. Matthews, Kimberly Christie, Toby A. Gardner, David Keith, David B. Lindenmayer, and Clive A. McAlpine.

The study introduces a model that illustrates three factors that limit the technical success of offsets: time lags, uncertainty and measurability of the value being offset, and recommendations for how policies can be more successful.

"We identified where policies are likely to be effective, in what situations these trading schemes are likely to lead to success, and what situations are the most risky and potentially should be avoided," Matthews said. The study identified factors in the current policies that are most problematic from an ecological perspective and recommended ways to improve the success of these policies.

"When a wetland is destroyed, the value that's being replaced at the new site may take decades to centuries before it's fully restored, so that time-lag needs to be considered," Matthews said. Trading the destroyed wetland for credits in an established biodiversity bank elsewhere helps eliminate the problem of time lags because you actually have restoration in advance of impact, Matthews said, but it's not always equivalent.

"And in order to replace those values, we need to define what we actually value about the sites being destroyed. If we can't define what we value about an ecosystem, it's difficult to set effective benchmarks or targets to judge succes
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Contact: Debra Levey Larson
dlarson@illinois.edu
217-244-2880
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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