The biodiversity impact of converting farmland to plantation

Restoring native veg in an agricultural landscape

Since European settlement, one-third of Australia’s woodlands, including 80% of southern temperate woodlands, have been cleared. In many agricultural areas the remaining native vegetation is highly fragmented. In these areas, traditional conservation strategies based on protection of intact landscapes as large individual reserves are difficult to apply. In heavily cleared agricultural landscapes, declines of biodiversity […]

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Orangutans: reintroduction vs habitat preservation

EDG researchers have established the best strategies for maintaining orangutan populations in Borneo and Sumatra for more than 20 years on a limited budget. They found that protecting the forest homes of orangutans is the most cost‐effective way of boosting the great apes’ chances of survival in the long‐run. “The International Union for Conservation of […]

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Legal & institutional dimensions of biodiversity offsetting

A joint CEED and CSIRO workshop (ANU, January 2015) Over two days in January, fifteen academics and professionals from law, economics, business, ecology and policy came together to discuss biodiversity offsetting with a multi-disciplinary twist. Held at the Fenner School of Environment and Society (ANU), and organised by Megan Evans (ANU), Stuart Whitten (CSIRO), Andrew […]

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Offsets entrench the decline of Carnaby’s black-cockatoo

Carnaby’s black-cockatoo is one of Western Australia’s most loved and recognised threatened species. This charismatic cockatoo, voted as Western Australia’s favorite bird in BirdLife Australia’s 2013 poll, lives across the south-west and has lost substantial tracts of its foraging and breeding habitat to land clearing for urban and industrial development, mining, forestry and agriculture. The […]

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NGOs on offsets & recovery

Three of Australia’s preeminent environmental non-government organisations (the Australian Conservation Foundation, BirdLife Australia and Environmental Justice Australia) have just released an analysis on recovery planning for threatened species that reveals that recovery plans designed to prevent Australia’s most endangered species from extinction are failing to protect habitat. The report, Recovery planning – Restoring life to […]

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Offsets in Decision Point

  A smorgasbord of offset treats The Environmental Decision Group contains some of the world’s leading thinkers and researchers on the subject of biodiversity offsets. That expertise is on display in this issue of Decision Point but it’s also been highly visible in issues gone by. Here is a selection of stories that have appeared […]

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Offset policies don’t work

So maybe we should be weighing up the alternatives Biodiversity offsetting policies are in place across Australia, administered by both state and federal authorities, to ensure that there are no net losses of native vegetation. Readers might be alarmed then to learn that in 2014, almost 300,000 hectares of native vegetation was cleared in Queensland. […]

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James Trezise out in the field. This field, however, is part a paddock providing habitat for the
threatened legless lizard - and it’s up for proposed development. James (on the right) is explaining to
a group of biodiversity-conservation students from the Australian National University how the EPBC
Offsets mechanism deals with this type of proposal

Of apples, oranges and offsets

And the importance of scientific advocacy in shaping long-term policy Everyone wants to influence policy to protect those values they care most about. However, everyone goes about ‘influencing’ in different ways. So far in this series on ‘influencing policy’ we have heard views from a psychology researcher, a research policy officer, an NGO science manager […]

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Kangaroos graze in a remnant of
the once mighty Cumberland Plains
Woodlands. (Photo by Penny Watson)

Step forward then look back

Using ‘backcasting’ to improve conservation and offsets policy Understanding the long-term impacts of different conservation policies is a massive challenge. For starters, there are long delays (potentially decades) between policy implementation and the resulting conservation gains or losses. And sometimes measuring those gains or losses can be difficult or even impossible because it’s expensive to […]

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Out on a limb: Most people would support funding being made
available to community groups to restore habitat for threatened
species like the Carnaby’s cockatoo. But what if that funding is part
of an offset for habitat loss. Suddenly it’s not about adding value to
environment so much as allowing the loss of equivalent environmental
value. (Photo by Leonie Valentine)

Could well-designed offset policies actually increase loss?

Perverse incentives may yield unintended biodiversity outcomes The idea of biodiversity offsetting is that impacts on biodiversity from development are compensated for by actions elsewhere in the landscape. It’s a simple idea but one that is generating a lot of controversy. Despite the noble-sounding goal of ‘no net loss’ of biodiversity, many are sceptical about […]

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Offsetting in the context of policy

What happens to the theory when it hits the real world? Biodiversity offsetting is a highly topical and increasingly popular approach used to compensate for impacts on species and ecosystems as a result of development, and is the subject of a large and growing body of scientific research. There has been substantial work in developing […]

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Offsets in the system

It’s a simple idea that some hold up as the key to sustainable development. Others regard it as opening a Pandora’s Box. Offsetting simply involves compensating for the impacts of development in one part of the landscape by doing something in another part of the landscape to ensure there is no net loss of biodiversity. […]

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