Comparing biodiversity offset methodologies — new paper by Bull

Joe Bull has  pub­lished a new paper enti­tled Com­par­ing bio­di­ver­sity off­set method­olo­gies. Diver­gence in secur­ing ‘no net loss’” in Deci­sion Point (No 85, Feb­ru­ary 2015). You can read the full arti­cle on the Jour­nal web­site (open access). For more infor­ma­tion see also some of the author’s con­clu­sions below.

 The con­se­quences of divergence 

All of these rea­sons for the diver­gence in out­comes link back ulti­mately to the phi­los­o­phy behind off­set­ting, and how this varies between dif­fer­ent juris­dic­tions. Whilst some soci­eties might allow out-of-kind off­set­ting for prac­ti­cal rea­sons, oth­ers might sim­ply deem it inap­pro­pri­ate or even poten­tially immoral; part of the rea­son for the recent fuss about off­set­ting in the UK media.

Alter­na­tively, some social or insti­tu­tional con­texts might favour a more pre­scrip­tive approach (I get the impres­sion from col­leagues there that this would be the case in Uzbek­istan), whereas oth­ers value the free­dom to inter­pret pol­icy individually.

In any case, the find­ings high­light that the method used to quan­tify losses and gains strongly influ­ences the bio­di­ver­sity out­comes of off­set­ting, which is inter­est­ing in itself. In turn, this may imply that off­sets gen­er­ated using dif­fer­ent method­olo­gies are not directly trans­fer­able between juris­dic­tions. The lat­ter con­clu­sion is not purely aca­d­e­mic, as there have been mum­blings for some time now about the poten­tial for trans-jurisdictional (eg, inter­na­tional) bio­di­ver­sity off­set credit trades.

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