Author(s): Martine Maron, Ascelin Gordon, Brendan G. Mackey, Hugh P. Possingham & James E. M. Watson
Title: Conservation: Stop misuse of biodiversity offsets
Publication type: open access journal article (comment)
It is reasonable, and often desirable, for offsets to fund new protected areas and their management. But these offset-funded protected areas must be tallied separately — and alongside the losses that trigger them.
A more robust system for ecological accounting is feasible, as demonstrated by REDD+, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change policies for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. REDD+ offers incentives for developing countries to conserve trees and reduce the growth in global greenhouse-gas emissions. Although the details of REDD+ mechanisms and funding are still being developed, the signatories have agreed on the need to establish realistic baseline rates of forest loss from which to calculate emissions reductions (seego.nature.com/gofoch).
With care, offsets can help to reconcile development and conservation. But if they allow governments to renege on their commitments by stealth, biodiversity offsets could cause more harm than good.