Principles in Biodiversity Offsets

Following an detailed and exhaustive consultation effort with governments, private sector and NGO representatives around the world, the Business Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP) has published its Principles on Biodiversity Offsets. These are supported by the Advisory Committee, which includes the State Government of Victoria.

In the absence of any alternative, suitable approach for biodiversity offset (e.g. NSW Biobanking), the BBOP Framework can be used by developers. Professional ecologists would be encouraged to use this framework to design ways of meeting Australia and New Zealand's commitment to the Convention on Biological Diversity, particularly the need to reverse biodiversity loss by 2010 (see EIANZ'S submission to the EPBC Senate Inquiry and the Biodiversity Management Discussion Paper).

Principles on Biodiversity Offsets
Supported by the BBOP Advisory Committee
  1. No net loss: A biodiversity offset should be designed and implemented to achieve in situ,measurable conservation outcomes that can reasonably be expected to result in no net loss and preferably a net gain of biodiversity.
  2. Additional conservation outcomes: A biodiversity offset should achieve conservation outcomes above and beyond results that would have occurred if the offset had not taken place. Offset design and implementation should avoid displacing activities harmful to biodiversity to other locations.
  3. Adherence to the mitigation hierarchy: A biodiversity offset is a commitment to compensate for significant residual adverse impacts on biodiversity identified after appropriate avoidance, minimization and on-site rehabilitation measures have been taken according to the mitigation hierarchy.
  4. Limits to what can be offset: There are situations where residual impacts cannot be fully compensated for by a biodiversity offset because of the irreplaceability or vulnerability of the biodiversity affected.
  5. Landscape Context: A biodiversity offset should be designed and implemented in a landscape context to achieve the expected measurable conservation outcomes taking into account available information on the full range of biological, social and cultural values of biodiversity and supporting an ecosystem approach.
  6. Stakeholder participation: In areas affected by the project and by the biodiversity offset, the effective participation of stakeholders should be ensured in decision-making about biodiversity offsets, including their evaluation, selection, design, implementation and monitoring.
  7. Equity: A biodiversity offset should be designed and implemented in an equitable manner, which means the sharing among stakeholders of the rights and responsibilities, risks and rewards associated with a project and offset in a fair and balanced way, respecting legal and customary arrangements. Special consideration should be given to respecting both internationally and nationally recognized rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.
  8. Long-term outcomes: The design and implementation of a biodiversity offset should be based on an adaptive management approach, incorporating monitoring and evaluation, with the objective of securing outcomes that last at least as long as the project’s impacts and preferably in perpetuity.
  9. Transparency: The design and implementation of a biodiversity offset, and communication of its results to the public, should be undertaken in a transparent and timely manner.
  10. Science and traditional knowledge: The design and implementation of a biodiversity offset should be a documented process informed by sound science, including an appropriate consideration of traditional knowledge.

The principles will soon be accompanied by a set of support documentation which comprise:
  • an overview of biodiversity offsets and BBOP;
  • three handbooks on the design and implementation of biodiversity offsets that the Advisory Committee is offering as a source of interim guidance;
  • resource papers on the relationship between biodiversity offsets, impact assessment and biodiversity offsets and stakeholder participation; and
  • case studies of the BBOP pilot projects and some other experiences.

1 comment:

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