The first Latin American habitat bank was launched in Colombia, with a private investment of 1,5 million dollars. It is a compensation mechanism that aims to preserve, restore and heal ecosystems and biodiversity that have been affected by human activities.
This bank will be located in the Meta department and hopes to raise conservation efforts in at least 600 hectares close to the Metica river. “Habitat banks are an opportunity to make the mandatory compensations and environmental investments more dynamic. They also help economic development in the country’s rural areas,” said Colombian Environmental Minister, Luis Gilberto Murillo in a statement.
The ministry believes habitat banking is a cost effective measure for companies which by law are obliged to compensate the environment. With habitat banking payments are done depending on the project’s impact, they reduce compensation costs and create an opportunity for profits when they invest in ecosystem’s recovery and conservation.
According to Carlos Novoa, senior specialist form the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank (BID-MIF), Colombia was chosen due to its conservation efforts and the already existing environmental markets. “Institutions already believe in compensation models, thus we decided to support the project’s financing. We’ll be following the habitat bank and hope it can be replicated throughout the country and Latin America,” explained Novoa.
Since December 2016, Colombia included habitat banking as a mechanism for environmental compensation investment, which further facilitates the implementation and follow-up of this measures which were established in 1993.
Habitat banks are used in several countries and have shown to be more effective than other environmental compensation processes. “For Colombia they are an opportunity to create environmental legislation and policies which boost rural development and natural resources’ protection,” concluded the Ministry.