Ecological Compensation Pools in the Agricultural Landscape (ECOPAL)
Economic development is a major reason for destruction of habitats and biodiversity loss. Policy makers have therefore introduced requirements for ecological compensation as a condition for the implementation of economic development projects. In Europe, such compensation projects are typically carried out on a case-by-case basis, implying small, fragmented, and costly projects. The purpose of this project is to investigate the efficient design of a Swedish policy for ecological compensation in the agricultural landscape, and to suggest a scheme for the implementation of ecological compensation pools. The project consists of three components. First, we use recent evaluations of biodiversity linked to agricultural grasslands and wetlands to analyze two key components in ecological compensation; uncertainty and temporal dynamics of biodiversity. This analysis is used to evaluate the possibilities to maintain and strengthen biodiversity through ecological compensation. Second, we investigate the efficient design of policy instruments and ecological compensation pools, with a particular focus on the joint management of ecological and economic risks. This analysis is essential to ensure reliable and large ecological improvements in biodiversity and habitat quality, while saving on the costs to society and securing fair outcomes. Third, we compare alternative designs of compensation pools for wetlands and grassland, and outline a strategy for successive implementation in Sweden. This is motivated by the need for further practical experience from compensation pools in a European context. The project outcomes are relevant to Swedish policy makers at local, regional, and national scale as well as to land owners, entrepreneurs that are willing to develop ecological compensation pools, NGOs, and the general public with an interest in biodiversity in the agricultural landscape.