Conservation Banking (US)

Conservation banking, or species banking, was modeled after the US wetland mitigation banking system. However, species offsets have no stated 'net loss principle' but rather a species recovery goal. The effort is regulated by federal agencies (the US Fisheries and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service) and is the only conservation banking in the US tracked at the national level. In addition, the California Department of Fish and Game regulates conservation banking of species listed as threatened in California. Although conservation banking lacks official regulations, agency guidance was created in 2003 to allow public and private conservation banks or in-lieu fee programs. For developers or others with projects that may impact a threatened or endangered species authorization is required under section 7 or 10 of the Endangered Species Act. The agency with jurisdiction over the species to be impacted decides whether an offset can be provided by a conservation bank and how many credits are needed to offset the impact. Offsets are primarily created through preservation and management of habitat and are created in advance of impacts. Offsets must be permanently protected and include a non-wasting endowment fund for management activities to maintain the species.


Ecosystem Marketplace backgrounder

US FWS guidance

Program Statistics

Date Established: 1988 Status: Active Program Type: Combination (One-Off Offset, Compensation, Banking)
About the program:
Annual size of program (area): 2444 (acre) Year of Data: 2008
Cumulative size of program (area): 65078 (acre) Years of Data: 1991 - 2009
Annual payments of program (US$): 200,000,000 Year of Data: 1998
Cumulative payments of program (US$): 2,000,000,000 Years of Data: 1998 - 2009
Notes on program size or payments:

Size and payments apply to conservation banking only; endangered species mitigation performed through ILFs or permittee-responsible are not included.  Price information for conservation banking is based on our dataset of 51 price points or ranges, including 35 prices provided anonymously by mitigation bankers. All price data are from 2005-2009. The cumulative payments figure is a rough estimate based on the annual payments figure and the approximate duration of the program's implementation ($200 million x approximately 10 years that the program has been actively running). For more information on the methods used to estimate US wetland and stream compensatory mitigation and conservation banking, see the State of Biodiversity Markets methods appendix available at:

Species or habitat types (if applicable): Alameda whipsnake, Baker's stickyseed, Bakersfield cactus, Bakersfield Saltbush, Ben Lomond's buckwheat, Ben Lomond's spineflower, Black-capped vireo, Blunt-nosed leopard lizard, Bogg's Lake hedge hyssop, Bone cave harvestman spider, Bonny Doon manzanita, Brittlescale, Burke's goldfield, Butte County meadowfoam, California black rail, California red-legged frog, California tiger salamander, Carolina heelsplitter, Cheat Mountain salamander, Chinook salmon, Coastal California Gnatcatcher, Coffin cave mold beetle, Conservancy fairy shrimp, Contra Costa goldfields, Curly-leaved monardella, Delhi Sands Flower-loving Fly, Delta green ground beetle, Delta smelt, Delta tule pea, Dwarf downingia, Eastwood's Manzanita, Florida panther, Florida scrub jay, Gaviota tarplant, Giant garter snake, Giant kangaroo rat, Golden eagle, Golden-cheeked warbler, Gopher tortoise, Greene's Tuctoria, Heartscale, Least Bell's vireo, Legenere, Longfin smelt, Mason's lilaeopsis, Mount Hermon June Beetle, Nightingale reed-warbler, Northwestern pond turtle, Orange throated whiptail, Oregon Chub, Otay tarplant
Bank regulator information: US Fish and Wildlife Service, US National Marine Fisheries Service Last Updated: December 21, 2010