NEW ARTICLE: The transition from No Net Loss to a Net Gain of biodiversity is far from trivial

Author(s): J.W. Bull and S. Brownlie

Title: The tran­si­tion from No Net Loss to a Net Gain of bio­di­ver­sity is far from trivial

Year: 2015

In: Oryx, DOI: Pub­lished online: 10 Novem­ber 2015

Pages: 7 pages.

Pub­li­ca­tion type: jour­nal article

Lan­guage: English



The objec­tives of No Net Loss and Net Gain have emerged as key prin­ci­ples in con­ser­va­tion pol­icy. Both give rise to mech­a­nisms by which cer­tain unavoid­able bio­di­ver­sity losses asso­ci­ated with devel­op­ment are quan­ti­fied, and com­pen­sated with com­pa­ra­ble gains (e.g. habi­tat restora­tion). The for­mer seeks a neu­tral out­come for bio­di­ver­sity after losses and gains are accounted for, and the lat­ter seeks an improved out­come. Policy-makers often assume that the tran­si­tion from one to the other is straight­for­ward and essen­tially a ques­tion of the amount of com­pen­sa­tion pro­vided. Con­se­quently, com­pa­nies increas­ingly favour Net Gain type com­mit­ments, and finan­cial insti­tu­tions make lend­ing con­di­tional on either objec­tive, depend­ing on the habi­tat involved. We con­tend, how­ever, that achiev­ing Net Gain is fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent to achiev­ing No Net Loss, and mov­ing from one to the other is less triv­ial than is widely real­ized. Our con­tention is based on four argu­ments: (1) the two prin­ci­ples rep­re­sent dif­fer­ent under­ly­ing con­ser­va­tion philoso­phies; (2) eco­log­i­cal uncer­tain­ties make it dif­fi­cult to know where the thresh­old between No Net Loss and Net Gain lies; (3) dif­fer­ent frames of ref­er­ence are more or less appro­pri­ate in eval­u­at­ing the eco­log­i­cal out­comes, depend­ing on the prin­ci­ple cho­sen; and (4) stake­holder expec­ta­tions dif­fer con­sid­er­ably under the two prin­ci­ples. In explor­ing these argu­ments we hope to sup­port policy-makers in choos­ing the more appro­pri­ate of the two objec­tives. We sug­gest that finan­cial insti­tu­tions should pro­vide greater clar­ity regard­ing the explicit require­ments for each prin­ci­ple. We con­clude by high­light­ing ques­tions of rel­e­vance to this topic that would ben­e­fit from focused research.

Bio­di­ver­sity off­set; devel­op­ment impacts; frame of ref­er­ence; mit­i­ga­tion hier­ar­chy; net gain; net pos­i­tive; no net loss; uncertainty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>