In days gone by, development (of cities, infrastructure, agriculture, etc.) happened without regard for the environment. And it was really the devastating effects of unimpeded development that led to the establishment and early growth of the environmental movement, broadly speaking. We have become much more efficient at using land and other resources, but development remains inevitable. In theory, biodiversity offsets cancel out the effect of development by conserving biodiversity "elsewhere". But that’s just theory. Biodiversity offsets are controversial for a number of reasons. It is, however, likely that we are stuck with them as a tool to mitigate biodiversity loss.
Joining me on episode 29 of The Case for Conservation Podcast is ecologist at the University if Queensland, Martine Maron. For much of her career Martine has been researching offsets, and doing her best to make sure they are properly implemented. In our discussion she explains what they are, why we’re stuck with them, and how to make the most of them.
Links to resources
Videos - IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management Thematic Group – short animated explainer videos about offsetting.
Taming a Wicked Problem: Resolving Controversies in Biodiversity Offsetting - an overview article about biodiversity offsetting in the journal BioScience.
On track to achieve no net loss of forest at Madagascar’s biggest mine - an interesting recent case study by a colleague of Martine, published int he journal Nature Sustainability.