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Habitat Banks

Habitat Bank - Meta

Bancos de Hábitat -ANTIOQUIA

Banco de Hábitat - Antioquia

Habitat Bank - Antioquia

What solution do they offer?

Statu Quo

Situation with Habitat Banks

Project 1

Project 2

Project 3

Project 4

Habitat Bank

Status quo


• Individualized efforts and high transaction costs for all parties


• There are no arrangements to ensure permanence of the areas; in addition, usually only the set-up is considered and not the maintenance


Situation with habitat bank


• Greater probability of success of the compensation measures and reduction of transaction costs


• Income opportunities for landowners to improve land use practices and increase environmental gains - planning and investment done in advance

Since 2013, Terrasos, together with the NGO Fundepúblico, have worked on the issue of biodiversity offsets for a simple reason, although environmental management instrument was established in 1993, the country has no record of where or how they have been implemented. Under this scenario, these two organizations developed a proposal for the implementation of compensation through Habitat Banks.


These banks are a mechanism incorporated in several countries that has proven to make biodiversity compensation processes more efficient, to the extent that they facilitate compliance and, at the same time, improve control and surveillance by environmental authorities. Habitat banks are also an opportunity for the country to generate environmental public policy instruments that can translate into opportunities for rural development and protection of natural resources.


Within this research, documents and materials were developed in order to motivate reflection on the way in which Colombia can move forward to a more effective implementation of biodiversity offsets. From this work, the following infographics emerged:

What are habitat banks?

Habitat Banks are lands where compensation requirements are merged and actions for the preservation, improvement or restoration of ecosystems are implemented to compensate for negative impacts on biodiversity. Through Habitat Banks, quantifiable gains in biodiversity are generated, which are used by companies to compensate for the environmental damage caused. This mechanism is aimed at generating a payment mechanism for environmental results, a fact with which it is possible to achieve increases in productivity, efficiency, and the quality of biodiversity offsets. To ensure the success of Habitat Banks, they enjoy financial, technical and legal guarantees, aspects that are not often considered in environmental investment mechanisms.


Therefore, Habitat Banks are intended to serve as aggregate compensation schemes, where several companies can offset for their environmental impact in a single land area. In addition, these Banks become a cost-efficient solution, where whoever generates the impacts only pays as different milestones are met in the process of design, structuring, and maintenance of the biodiversity units, which have their equivalent in terms of hectares

Habitat banks in Colombia

Regulations related to Habitat Banks in Colombia

Resolution 1051 of June 5, 2017


Recently, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS for its name in Spanish) issued the administrative act that regulates habitat banks. This act establishes the scope of application, the conditions for creating habitat banks and the terms that must be met in order to register them. The resolution assumes these banks as a mechanism for implementing the obligations derived from biodiversity compensations and the compulsory investment of 1% for water usage, as well as other conservation initiatives that can be configured through actions of preservation, restoration, and sustainable use of ecosystems and their biodiversity, under the pay-for-performance scheme. As part of the conditions for creating habitat banks, compliance with the principles of additionality, complementarity, sustainability and permanence, payment for performance and knowledge management is required (See Resolution here).


Decree 2099 of December 22, 2016


This Decree seeks a more appropriate water management, requiring all projects that use water taken directly from natural sources in their execution, and that are subject to obtaining an environmental license, to allocate 1% of the total investment of these projects for the recovery, conservation, preservation and surveillance of the hydrographic basin that feeds the respective water source. One of the mechanisms for the implementation of these investments are Habitat Banks, and others such as payment for environmental services, conservation agreements, as well as the application of conservation initiatives (See Decree here).

Resolution 1517 of August 31, 2012


In 2012, the national government adopted, through Resolution 1517, the Manual para la asignación de compensaciones por pérdida de biodiversidad (Manual for the allocation of compensation for loss of biodiversity). This Manual applies to the projects and activities that require an environmental license from ANLA, leaving the projects licensed by the CAR out, the subtraction of the forest reserve, the forest exploitation and the lifting of the ban. The guidelines of the Manual provide clarity and create opportunities to seek more cost-efficient implementation schemes, which may result in quantifiable gains in biodiversity - as is the case with Habitat Banks (See the update of the Resolution here).

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