“Say no to more development in the ACT” — or the new biodiversity offset policy will fail

“This approach – bio­di­ver­sity off­sets – is becom­ing pop­u­lar with gov­ern­ments around the world because it appears to pro­vide a win-win: ongo­ing devel­op­ment with­out fur­ther loss of declin­ing biodiversity.”

Bio­di­ver­sity Off­set Pol­icy in the ACT

A bio­di­ver­sity off­set pol­icy is under­way in the ACT (if you’re a non-Aussie that’s the  Aus­tralian Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory). This is con­tigu­ous (both with regard to the con­tent and the geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion) to the the new bio­di­ver­sity off­sets pol­icy and fund in the state Aerial View on the Australian Capital Territory By Graeme Bartlett (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commonsof New South Wales (see my pre­vi­ous post Good news? Bad news? New bio­di­ver­sity off­set fund released in New South Wales, Aus­tralia).

Once again, it’s not quite clear whether these are good news or bad. Dr. Phil Gib­bons from Aus­tralian National Uni­ver­sity (yes, that’s in the ACT) explained in an arti­cle in The Age why he con­sid­ers the ACT bio­di­ver­sity off­set pol­icy flawed (you can find the same com­ment also in The Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald).

Prob­lems with the new bio­di­ver­sity off­set policy

He iden­ti­fies four problems:

  1. There is not enough knowl­edge how to restore much of the ACT’s bio­di­ver­sity once it is lost. There­fore, the gov­ern­ment needs to “say no” to more developments.
  2. Bio­di­ver­sity Off­sets would obvi­ously increase the price of new hous­ing devel­op­ments (because the cost of restora­tion of destroyed bio­di­ver­sity would have to be included). But this is unlikely to be accept­able as it con­tra­dict the aim of improv­ing hous­ing affordability.
  3. The pol­icy allows off­sets to be located out­side the ACT in the sur­round­ing state of New South Wales. This leads to the obser­va­tion that any fur­ther devel­op­ment is unsus­tain­able if it can’t be off­set within the bor­ders of the ACT.
  4. The pol­icy is restricted to threat­ened species and not all native plants and ani­mals. While threat­ened species actu­ally shouldn’t be impacted at all, the more com­mon species are likely to suf­fer the most from this policy.

Back­ground information

For some back­ground, you can also refer to an inde­pen­dent advice to the Office of the Com­mis­sioner for Sus­tain­abil­ity and the Envi­ron­ment (OCSE) on poten­tial bio­di­ver­sity off­set man­age­ment actions and sites for the ACT that Phil had worked out already in 2011.

And of course, have a look at the offi­cial gov­ern­ment sites: the Envi­ron­ment and Plan­ning Direc­torate and the Ter­ri­tory and Munic­i­pal Ser­vices (both from the ACT government).

The ACT gov­ern­ment has also estab­lished Online maps to high­light envi­ron­men­tal off­set sites. The online map viewer is called ACTMAPi.

For your con­ve­niece I have also uploaded a pdf of the ACT bio­di­ver­sity off­set pol­icy: ACT-Environmental-Offsets-Policy_15Aug


“Say no to more development in the ACT” — or the new biodiversity offset policy will fail — 1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Take three for Australia's biodiversity offset policies: Queensland’s new Environmental Offsets regime - Biodiversity Offsets Blog

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