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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Wetlands Mitigation Banking and the Problem of Consolidation

  • Author(s): Steinhoff, Gordon
  • et al.

A mitigation bank is a large wetland or wetland complex that is restored or created for the sake of selling credits to private developers or government agencies to compensate for the loss of natural wetlands. Mitigation banking is now emphasized within federal environmental policy. Proponents of banking claim that banking is beneficial to the environment, but studies have shown that this practice threatens biodiversity. The problem is consolidation. With banking, wetlands in a broad geographical area are collapsed into a relatively small area. Wetlands within banks tend to be larger and they are less diverse in type than the wetlands that are lost. Studies have shown that consolidation threatens the diversity and abundance of amphibians and wetland birds. Mitigation banking actually rests, not on arguments concerning its environmental benefits, but on arguments concerning the benefits it provides to humans.

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