Funded by the National Science Foundation of the USA, and led by the University of Indiana, this project analyzed the introduction of market-based conservation policies, particularly habitat banking, in the EU as a test-case for the global feasibility of such approaches. While market-based approaches to conservation have been in play in the USA for nearly 40 years, the advent of such approaches in the EU has sparked great debate. The success or failure of EU attempts to regulate the environment using habitat banking will speak to the potential of markets and the obstacles in the way of global economic integration.
During two years, the project examined in detail the current implementation of habitat banking in Spain and the UK, and investigated the controversies over this policy approach at the EU level. The research consisted of interviews with staff at the European Commission, and at German, Spanish and British national and regional environmental agencies, NGOs, and consulting firms, as well as with environmental scientists and habitat banking entrepreneurs; and of a comparative analysis of the process of developing and using the ecological metrics by which habitat credits are assessed in each member state.
The project's findings, which are currently under review in different outlets, will contribute to current policy debates and have been presented in several international conferences and workshops (e.g. The Association of American Geographers Conference), and in the targeted countries.