Biodiversity Law (including biodiversity offsets) under Development in France

French bio­di­ver­sity pol­icy has been evolv­ing and strength­en­ing since 1976, when the “Law on Nature Pro­tec­tion”, pro­vided the first men­tion of the mit­i­ga­tion hier­ar­chy and stip­u­lated that all devel­op­ments required an EIA.

More recent guid­ance on the mit­i­ga­tion hier­ar­chy pub­lished by the Min­istry of Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment in 2013 stated that if resid­ual impacts remain after avoid­ance and min­i­miza­tion steps, com­pen­sa­tion is manda­tory in the case of dam­age result­ing in “major envi­ron­men­tal issues”.

Ear­lier this year a new law on bio­di­ver­sity (Pro­jet de loi pour la recon­quête de la bio­di­ver­sité, de la nature et des paysages) entered the leg­isla­tive pipeline in France and was approved by the National Assem­bly, includ­ing the adop­tion of an impor­tant arti­cle on bio­di­ver­sity off­sets and an arti­cle intro­duc­ing a Not Net Loss / Net Gain prin­ci­ple.

As approved by the National Assem­bly, the law:

  • allows for 3rd party provider of off­sets (habi­tat bank­ing); who will how­ever need to get the prior approval of the French author­i­ties to be able to operate;
  • allows for con­ser­va­tion ease­ments, a tra­di­tional tool for con­serv­ing pri­vate land (also known as a con­ser­va­tion restric­tion or covenant) which is a legal agree­ment between a landowner and any pub­lic or pri­vate body act­ing for envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion that per­ma­nently lim­its uses of the land in order to pro­tect its con­ser­va­tion val­ues, and;
  • reor­ga­nizes agen­cies with bio­di­ver­sity respon­si­bil­ity into a sin­gle agency (Agence française pour la biodiversité).

How­ever the law is not fully adopted yet as the Sen­ate still has to pass it, likely to be fol­lowed by nego­ti­a­tions between the Sen­ate and National Assem­bly which may take sev­eral more months.  It is clear from these devel­op­ments that the mit­i­ga­tion hier­ar­chy, includ­ing off­sets, has been iden­ti­fied as an impor­tant part of France’s bio­di­ver­sity policy.

This infor­ma­tion was retrieved from the lat­est (May 2015) BBOP Newslet­ter.

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