Wetland Mitigation Banking

What is Wetland Mitigation?
The purpose of wetland mitigation is to provide offsets to wetland impacts that are authorized by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) under the Clean Water Act, Section 404 Permitting Program or State authorized wetland permitting programs.

In order to receive a wetland permit, the regulating authorities carefully analyze the “public need” of the proposed activity and require the applicant to demonstrate that the benefits of the proposed activity outweigh the benefits of the wetland resource at hand. Furthermore, the regulating authorities then require the applicant to consider alternative sites/project locations and document the suitability of the project’s location in achieving the public need and reason for being located within a wetland area. Finally, as “Mitigation,” agencies first require the applicant to avoid and minimize wetland impacts to the greatest extent possible, after which “compensation” (ie mitigation banks) are ultimately utilized to ensure that a “no-net-loss” of wetlands occurs. Therefore compensation through mitigation banks only occurs following a rigorous process and the permit is not issued until the compensation/securing mitigation credits occurs.

Therefore, “wetland mitigation” through the establishment and management of wetland mitigation banks essentially allows socio-economic growth to occur by restoring wetlands as compensation for the loss. Wetland mitigation maintains a delicate balance between the need for people to utilize wetlands to their benefit while at the same time preserves the need for people to have wetlands and enjoy they benefits they provide.

What is Mitigation Banking?

Mitigation Banking achieves two inherent goals of socially responsible investing: Social Impact and Financial Gain

According to the Environmental Law Institute, over $3 Billion is spent each year on wetland and stream protection and restoration projects, with the primary driver being Section 404. Louisiana is losing wetlands at an alarming rate, particularly coastal areas where people live and depend on wetlands for their livelihood. Also, Oil and Gas resources are prevalent throughout coastal Louisiana which puts Louisianans to work and also has national and international implications.

Sustainable and Responsible Investment

According to the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment sustainable, responsible, and impact investing (SRI) is an investment discipline that considers environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) criteria to generate long-term competitive financial returns and
positive social impact.

Examples of environmental Criteria:

  • Climate change / Carbon (sequestration)
  • Pollution/Toxins
  • Sustainable natural resources
  • Water use and conservation
  • Smart growth

Wetland mitigation easily satisfies the environmental criteria of SRI, as satisfies two public needs: Restored and/or Preserved Wetland/Wildlife Habitat, and allows for sustainable socio-economic growth to occur because it allows for land development to continue with “no-net loss” of wetlands.