Operational Framework for Use of Conservation Allowances: chapter 2

Current Practice Internationally and in Canada

Conservation allowances have long been used in Canada and internationally to achieve conservation objectives for wetlands, biodiversity, endangered species and other valued ecosystem components.

Most Government of Canada experience with conservation allowances has been gained through two policies:

  • The Policy for the Management of Fish Habitat, which was developed and administered by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and supported the former habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act;
  • Canada’s Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation (FPWC), which provides a framework for undertaking measures such as conservation allowances to address impacts on wetlands in relation to the federal environmental assessment process. 

In addition to federal government experience, a number of provinces, including British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, also have experience with or are developing approaches to the use of measures such as allowances.

Internationally, the U.S. Wetland Mitigation program is one of the longest-standing programs for conservation allowances (referred to in their policy and legislation as offsets). As described in section 404 of the U.S. Clean Water Act, adverse impacts on wetlands, streams and other aquatic resources must be avoided and minimized to the extent practicable. For impacts that cannot be avoided, compensatory mitigation is required to replace the loss of wetland and resource functions within the watershed. Also in the U.S., conservation banking for endangered species was first undertaken in the early 1990s and is enabled by the U.S. Endangered Species Act, which requires federal agencies to ensure that their actions do not jeopardize listed species.

Australia, New Zealand and the EU also have experience in the use of measures such as conservation allowances. 

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