Development of a European BioBanking Network
2.4 - Protect and promote natural spaces, water resources and coastal zones
Biodiversity banks (Biobanks) can be classified as permanently protected land banks (constructed, undeveloped, other) that are managed for endangered, threatened or other at risk species. This definition may be broadened to include lands that have amenity value or other such valuable biological or social attributes.
Biobanks can be either publically or privately owned.
Simply, a Biobank can be considered as a biological bank that offers habitat or species credits rather than money as with the traditional bank.
The principal purpose of Biobanks is to provide a market incentive to preserve biodiversity. While market based instruments (MBIs) such as taxes, fees, subsidies and other financial mechanisms are not a particularly new development in preservating biodiversity, the use of Biobanks, in a European setting, is relatively unexplored.
European biodiversity is under threat and while some MBIs and other preventative initiatives have achieved localised or small scale success, the integrity overall, of Europe’s biodiversity, continues to be eroded.
Biobanks fall under the MBIs definition and may be regarded as a market enterprise that offers landowners incentives to protect the habitats of endangered, threatened or other at risk species for financial gain. Biobank owners profit from selling credits (habitat, species, other) to developers who are required to compensate for the environmental impacts of their operations or developments. Developers, whose developments result or may result, in adverse environmental impacts and biodiversity loss, can purchase ‘one off’ credits to mitigate or offset for this loss. This MBI provides regulatory certainly as well as facilitating the developer. Further it ensures, in real-time, that any biodiversity loss is offset by an equal or greater biodiversity gain. The approving body, overseeing and setting the credit mechanics, decides on the credit ratios i.e. loss to gain ratios.
Ideally conservation banks comprise large land reserves that function as compensatory conservation areas for multiple projects. While it is cheaper to manage on this basis rather than for small discrete land packages other benefits include fostering of biodiversity and assisting habitat linkages. Further large reserves potentially offer significant social advantages, an important factor in more densely populated areas such as one finds in Europe.