Replacing lost ecosystems – the Devil is in the detail

Balancing biodiversity offsets with restoration reality

Biodiversity offsetting is a big and attractive idea. Indeed, it’s one of the fastest-growing areas in conservation policy both here in Australia and overseas with more than 64 such programs currently underway around the world. The idea is that losses of biodiversity at an impact site are compensated by the generation of ecologically equivalent gains elsewhere. The result, in theory, is that there is ‘no net loss’ of biodiversity.

Depending on who you talk to, biodiversity offsets represent either a great conservation opportunity or an attempt to greenwash ‘business as usual’ for developers.
Australia is among the most advanced countries in terms of its biodiversity offset policy regime with most states and territories having at least one offset policy. There’s also a federal scheme close to being finalised.
However, although this approach is being increasingly applied, when we reviewed the literature on the effectiveness of restoration for biodiversity offsets we found there is little evidence that it can work
(Maron et al, 2012)…

 

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