A recent policy brief (October 2014) has been prepared by Sustainable Prosperity on biodiversity offsets in the Canadian context. See the pdf of the policy brief here and the key messages below.
Biodiversity contributes to human wellbeing in a number of ways; human health benefits from clean air and fresh water, economic activity relies on nature to supply natural resources, and people derive enjoyment and spiritual value from being in nature and having access to recreation. However, biodiversity is in rapid decline, due in large part to pressures from economic activity like resource development and land-use conversion.
Canadians want both economic activity and biodiversity. While the amount of resource development and economic activity forecast for the coming decade is substantial, there is a strategic window now, prior to development, to set biodiversity conservation goals and to implement policies that address the environmental impacts of economic activity.
Biodiversity offsets have the potential to be used as one tool to help achieve biodiversity conservation goals. While Canada is generally lacking policy frameworks for biodiversity offsets, there is real world experience and practical knowledge upon which to build biodiversity offset policies tailored for Canada.
In addition to moving forward now with biodiversity offsets where appropriate, ongoing research is required to ensure the best possible environmental and economic outcomes. This research agenda should be based on conservation science and should draw on interdisciplinary collaboration from political, financial, social, legal and economic experts. A starting point would be the 10 priority research areas identified by participants at the February 2014 conference Biodiversity Offsets in Canada: Getting it Right, Making a Difference.
Study on Canadian Conservation Offset Programs
The policy brief builds on a recent study by Warren Noga and W.L. (Vic) Adamowicz entitled “A Study of Canadian Conservation Offset Programs. Lessons Learned from a Review of Programs, Analysis of Stakeholder Perceptions, and Investigation of Transactions Costs” (October 14, 2014).
See the pdf of the study here and find the summary copied below: Noga and Adamowicz_2014_A study on Canadian conservation offset programs
Summary of the study
The use of conservation offsets to achieve environmental goals is becoming more prominent, both in Canada and around the world. In order to build new, effective programs, it is useful to evaluate current programs for the lessons that can be learned. Much of the existing literature focuses on evaluating offset programs from a biological perspective or an economic perspective. To fully evaluate a program, elements of both disciplines should be used. The following paper develops a framework using existing criteria from both the biological and economic literature. The framework is then applied to several Canadian and one international case study to identify what lessons can be learned. Interviews with key stakeholders in the design of existing offset programs are used to expand the discussion on the lessons learned. The paper concludes with a discussion of lessons that are learned through the literature review, application of the framework, and interview responses.