False Identity: Conservation Banking. A Program Analysis.

Conservation banking is a complex, ostensibly “free market” approach for wildlife conservation. Conservation banking is similar to the cap-and-trade program and to wetland mitigation in that a business can purchase a “credit” from an owner of a conservation bank to offset costs from developing an area that is home to an organism on the endangered-species list. This paper examines whether conservation banking should be classified as a free-market approach. The analysis begins by examining the history and process of creating a conservation bank. Then the characteristics of conservation banking are analyzed using the general market supply-anddemand framework, the market-process theories of Hayek, Kirzner, and Mises, and the institutional analysis of Ostrom. Following the examination of the characteristics of conservation banking, this paper suggests a different classification for conservation banking and provides conservation alternatives that are closer to a free-market classification.

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