, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 640-655

Identifying wetland compensation principles and mechanisms for Atlantic Canada using a Delphi approach

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In recent years, the Canadian federal government and several provincial governments have issued policies requiring compensatory mitigation (compensation) for unavoidable wetland loss. Canada’s approach to compensation has been criticized for lacking guidelines, resulting in reduced transparency, unpredictability, and a lack of consistency. We solicited opinions and then synthesized regional expertise in Atlantic Canada through a Delphi process, established five guiding principles for compensation, and summarized opinion on compensation mechanisms. The five principles underscore the importance of 1) replacing wetland functions at a watershed scale, 2) predictability and transparency in the compensation process, 3) approaching compensation in a manner that is practical for responsible agencies and proponents, 4) assuring that proponents bear the full cost of compensation, and 5) iterative learning to improve compensation. Through the Delphi exercise, we found a preference for restoration, enhancement, and creation as compensation mechanisms, and limited support for mitigation banking. Our findings provide a solid foundation for the development of wetland compensation guidelines in Atlantic Canada and elsewhere.