The British Ecological Society (BES) in a recent post looks at uncertainty and unanswered questions with regard to biodiversity offsets. The author of the article concludes that since the UK government’s consultation closed at the end of 2013, “the Government has made little progress in finalising and implementing an offsetting policy, with the results of the consultation yet to be published. With the general election just a few weeks away, the decision as to how – or if – biodiversity offsetting is put into practice in England will fall to the next Government […] One of the BES’s key ambitions for the next Parliament is that environmental policy is informed by sound scientific evidence, and that policy-makers have access to the best available ecological science to inform decision-making. How the next Government chooses to take biodiversity offsetting forward will be a key test of this principle.”
You can access the full article online on the websie of the British Ecological society. For more information see some of the “unanswered questions” below.
- Improving our understanding of the implications of biodiversity offsetting across a greater range of habitats. Most studies to date have focused on wetlands and grasslands, but this needs to be extended to include habitats such as forests, marine habitats and uplands.
- Understanding the management actions and timescales required to restore sites to functioning ecosystems equivalent to the habitats lost to development.
- Development of a comprehensive framework for treating uncertainty in offsets, for example to inform multipliers and habitat banking.
- An accepted and universal design for biodiversity offsetting schemes that considers the wider context of development, the offset accounting system, and the approach to defining and calculating biodiversity losses and gains.
- A deeper debate on the moral and ethical dimensions of offsetting, examining the social assumptions, implications and values that underpin this approach, and setting it within national, regional and local contexts.