A smarter way to save habitat and wildlife
Habitat Exchange benefits nature and business simultaneously
Why it’s needed
A failing system
How do we feed and fuel America’s growth without pushing wildlife into extinction? With more than 250 species awaiting federal listing decisions, our nation’s system of preserving cherished wildlife has not kept pace with America’s need to feed, house and transport our growing population and power our economy.
A new solution
Enter Habitat Exchange, a collaborative, cost-effective approach to conservation developed by EDF and partners that strikes the right balance between wildlife protection and economic growth.
Saving wildlife on private lands
At-risk wildlife often require specific types of habitat to thrive. But, in the U.S., about 75% of all land is privately held, making it hard to conserve suitable habitat.
For example, the lesser prairie chicken, a ground-dwelling grouse unique to the U.S., was once abundant throughout the Southern Great Plains. Sagebrush habitat loss has severely limited its range, which also overlaps with energy development as well as private farming and ranching operations.
Developers get a simpler system
From oil wells to wind farms, developers have to launch new projects to meet demand, sometimes in areas where vulnerable species or habitat exists. This can lead to years-long arguments and litigation that delays construction.
In a habitat exchange, developers benefit from a predictable value for credits they must buy to offset the impacts of development, and a standard set of rules and regulatory assurances, even if a species is listed, to ensure projects move forward.
Landowners are rewarded for conservation
Meanwhile, private landowners like farmers and ranchers need to stay profitable, too. Habitat Exchange pays participating landowners for conducting certain conservation activities that improve habitat for species, such as managed grazing or prescribed fire.
Landowners gain a new revenue stream and healthier working lands, while maintaining flexibility to engage in a variety of agricultural practices, instead of removing land from production.
A species now has ample, safe habitat, and may not require further federal protection. The landowner has gained a new way to earn income, and the developer can proceed with plans, avoiding litigation and hassles.