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Environmental Impact Assessment Review
Vol. 55, 2015, Pages: 21–34

Mitigation for one & all: An integrated framework for mitigation of development impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services

Heather Tallis, Christina M. Kennedy, Mary Ruckelshaus, Joshua Goldstein, Joseph M. Kiesecker

The Nature Conservancy, 415 Alta Vista Dr., Santa Cruz, CA 95060, United States.

Abstract

Emerging development policies and lending standards call for consideration of ecosystem services when mitigating impacts from development, yet little guidance exists to inform this process. Here we propose a comprehensive framework for advancing both biodiversity and ecosystem service mitigation. We have clarified a means for choosing representative ecosystem service targets alongside biodiversity targets, identified servicesheds as a useful spatial unit for assessing ecosystem service avoidance, impact, and offset options, and discuss methods for consistent calculation of biodiversity and ecosystem service mitigation ratios. We emphasize the need to move away from area- and habitat-based assessment methods for both biodiversity and ecosystem services towards functional assessments at landscape or seascape scales. Such comprehensive assessments more accurately reflect cumulative impacts and variation in environmental quality, social needs and value preferences. The integrated framework builds on the experience of biodiversity mitigation while addressing the unique opportunities and challenges presented by ecosystem service mitigation. These advances contribute to growing potential for economic development planning and execution that will minimize impacts on nature and maximize human wellbeing.

Keywords: Mitigation hierarchy; Strategic environmental assessment; Conservation planning; Environmental compensation; Biodiversity offsets; Land use planning.

 
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