The Business and Biodiversity Offset Program (BBOP) is a partnership between companies, financial institutions, governments and conservation experts to explore biodiversity offsets. Forest Trends and Wildlife Conservation Society provide the Secretariat for BBOP.
BBOP envisages a future in which the mitigation hierarchy is rigorously applied worldwide to a high standard by governments and the private sector for projects in all sectors, emphasizing avoidance and minimization, to achieve no net loss and preferably a net gain of biodiversity.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Community of Practice Meeting with the EU NNL Working Group
- BBOP LinkedIn group
- Next Webinar: new paper on biodiversity offset “limits”
- IUCN Independent report on biodiversity offsets
- UK Ecosystem Markets Task Force final report
- Article on the UK’s biodiversity offset pilot scheme
- Scaling-up Finance Mechanisms for Biodiversity
- Marine biodiversity offsetting – UK scoping study
- UK Summit on Biodiversity Offsets
- UK Law Commission: Conservation Covenants - A Consultation Paper
- Victorian offsetting rules revised
- An Australian averted risk offset critique
CONFERENCES AND EVENTS
- International Congress for Conservation Biology 2013
The tenth BBOP Advisory Group meeting was held in Brussels on 21 May, with representatives from companies, consultancies, financial institutions, civil society organizations and governments. Presentations by ten projects planning offsets according to the BBOP Standard and other approaches set the scene for discussions based on practical experience. Several of these presentations are now available on the BBOP website.
Participants endorsed the current BBOP workplan, establishing that BBOP will continue to focus on maintaining and improving the BBOP Standard and running the Community of Practice. Responding to requests from the BBOP membership, the Executive Committee and Advisory Group agreed that the Standard and Guidance Notes will not be revised until 2015 at the earliest, depending on the speed with which evidence of the need to amend specific provisions comes to light.
Community of Practice Meeting with the EU NNL Working Group
On 22 May 2013, the European Commission hosted a joint meeting of BBOP and the European Union No Net Loss Working Group held as part of BBOP’s Community of Practice. The day-long event in Brussels was attended by 74 people from the two groups. Presentations from the meeting included a summary of the work of the EU No Net Loss Initiative by Dr. Laure Ledoux, Policy Officer, Biodiversity Unit, DG Environment - European Commission. Participants took part in discussions on a range of issues at the heart of designing and implementing projects for no net loss of biodiversity, and also heard about the experiences and lessons from nascent and mature government-led approaches in the US, Australia and South Africa. All of these presentations and minutes of the meeting can be found on the BBOP website.
BBOP LinkedIn group
BBOP has launched a discussion group on biodiversity offsets and no net loss on the professional networking site LinkedIn. This site will be maintained by BBOP and welcome any professionals who would like to take part in technical and policy discussions on no net loss and a net gain. BBOP Advisory Group and Community of Practice members are invited to join, but so too are any others working on related topics. The group is intended to enable more interactive, robust discussions on topics related to biodiversity offsets, the mitigation hierarchy and achieving no net loss. Participants can post relevant questions and offer answers, publicize papers, events, job and consulting opportunities, outcomes of projects, and other relevant information When sufficient interest emerges on particular technical topics, the BBOP Secretariat can arrange webinars and establish sub-groups that wish to collaborate in discussions, research and the development of tools and publications on particular topics . The discussion group site can be found here. We encourage you to have a look and join the group.
BBOP plans to host a Community of Practice conference in the first half of 2014 that will mark ten years since the launch of BBOP, and will aim to take stock of the progress made and challenges that remain in achieving no net loss. This conference will encourage the participation of as large a number as possible of organizations working around the world on the design and implementation of mitigation measures (including offsets and compensation), policies and safeguards, It will be structured to allow many participants to share their experiences, to attend debate and discussion sessions and some training events . The date and location are yet to be determined but more information will be posted on the BBOP website and shared with the Community of Practice as it becomes available.
BBOP will soon be announcing a call for papers for the 2014 conference.
Next Webinar: New Paper on Biodiversity Offset “Limits”
The next BBOP Community of Practice webinar will take place on 18 July to explore limits to biodiversity offsets. John Pilgrim of The Biodiversity Consultancy will present the paper for which he was lead author: “A process for assessing the offsetability of biodiversity impacts”. The paper outlines a general process for evaluating the relative offsetability of different impacts on biodiversity. It offers a framework that establishes the burden of proof necessary to confirm the appropriateness and achievability of offsets. In addition, Jeff Manuel of SANBI will present South Africa’s approach to the limits of biodiversity offsets. More information on the webinar, including an invitation to Community of Practice members will be sent out a week prior to the event. Presentations and recordings of past webinars can be found on this page.
This “Independent report on biodiversity offsets”, commissioned by The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was developed by The Biodiversity Consultancy to provide the mining industry an overview of key issues on biodiversity offsets. It sets out the emerging business case driven by new government policies and regulations, requirements of financial institutions and the rise in voluntary private sector commitments to No Net Loss or similar. It examines principles established by several approaches (including BBOP) focusing on four of the most discussed technical principles: Limits, Additionality, Equivalency and Permanence. The report offers a generic four-step process that aims to ensure the correct types and amounts of biodiversity are taken into account in an offset exchange:
- Prioritize and select biodiversity features to include
- Select methods to collect data on amounts of each feature in the field
- Convert data into a currency
- Decide on adjustments needed for a fair exchange
In addition to providing best-practice case studies and covering the relationship of offsets to ecosystem services, offset implementation challenges are also discussed.
UK Ecosystem Markets Task Force final report
Realising nature’s value: The Final Report of the Ecosystem Markets Task Force was released in March. The EMTF, a group of companies convened by the UK’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), produced this report which contains a set of 22 recommendations for how businesses can improve the way they integrate nature's resources and services into their business models. It contains five headline opportunities related to Biodiversity Offsetting, Water, Anaerobic Digestion, Woodfuel, and Certification and Labeling. Regulated biodiversity offsets are the companies' top recommendation. A video presentation of key points of the report can be found here. This short video provides interviews with business leaders who are in support of the Task Force's recommendations.
Article on the UK’s Biodiversity Offset Pilot Scheme
The UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) produced guidance and information on biodiversity offsetting in early April 2012, with advice on biodiversity offsetting for providers and developers of schemes and information on projects underway. An article by Jonathan Leake, Environment Editor in The Sunday Times on 21 April 2013, “Developers can pay to rip up nature”, registered concern about the biodiversity offsetting pilot scheme currently being trialed by Defra with six local planning authorities. The author believes that the approach is likely to be controversial as there is little science to show that restored sites exhibit quality equal to those that they replace. It refers to "alarmed conservation groups" who "fear the system is little more than a way to evade planning rules and give developers access to prime greenfield sites".
Scaling-up Finance Mechanisms for Biodiversity
This report from OECD examines six mechanisms that can be used to scale-up financing for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use and to help meet the 2011-20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Biodiversity offsets are one of these mechanisms. The report provides an overview of each mechanism (how it works, key design and implementation issues, how much finance it has mobilized and potential to scale this up). The chapter on biodiversity offsets considers the size and scalability of biodiversity offset programs but the report notes that information on finance mobilization for all the mechanisms remains spotty. It also examines the key design and implementation features needed for biodiversity offsets to operate effectively and equitably. These include metrics to ensure that biodiversity benefits at offset sites are equivalent to losses at the impact site, a robust monitoring, reporting and verification framework, and safeguards to help manage environmental and social risks.
Marine Biodiversity Offsetting – UK Scoping Study
This study by the Economics for the Environment Consultancy (eftec), a report to The Crown Estate, is believed to be one of the first investigations of the possible use of biodiversity offsets in the UK marine environment. The report is timely, as new marine policies have produced new planning approaches and environmental targets, which may require new management measures to be considered. The study covers the UK marine environment, and considers two hypothetical case studies, for which realistic offset options are identified. The conclusion from the work is that there is potential, through further research and wider consideration of potential design options, for biodiversity offsetting to become a useful management tool for the marine environment in some circumstances. However, there are significant gaps in the ecological understanding and in current legislation that would need to be addressed before a marine biodiversity offsetting scheme could be progressed. BBOP hosted a webinar on this report and the presentation and webinar recording can be found on the BBOP site.
UK ◊ Australia ◊ Peru ◊ Natural Capital Declaration Roadmap
UK Summit on Biodiversity Offsets
The UK is exploring the possibility of introducing policy measures on biodiversity offsets. Earlier editions of this newsletter have reported on the voluntary pilot projects underway in the UK, and the guidance Defra has issued on the offset metric, guiding principles, guidance to offset providers, options impact assessment, and costing of potential actions, etc. On 9 May, Owen Paterson, Secretary of State at the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Defra biodiversity Minister Richard Benyon hosted a ‘summit on biodiversity offsets’ attended by over 100 delegates. Mr. Paterson, stated the importance of growing the rural economy while at the same time improving the environment, and reported on his visit to Australia, including mandatory schemes in Victoria and voluntary approaches in New South Wales. Speakers included Kerry ten Kate (BBOP Director, speaking on behalf of Forest Trends). Expected next steps include a response from the British government to the Ecosystems Markets Taskforce final report which includes a recommendation of biodiversity offsets. The British government also intends to release a consultation paper on biodiversity offsetting in the coming weeks.
UK Law Commission: Conservation Covenants - A Consultation Paper
The Law Commission of England and Wales is currently investigating the case for introducing conservation covenants into the law of England and Wales. Conservation covenants are already widely applied in places such as Scotland, Australia and the United States (where they’re often called conservation easements). They are a "voluntary agreement between a landowner and responsible body (charity, public body or local/central Government) to do or not do something on their land for a conservation purpose". Such conservation obligations "run with the land", becoming part of the chain of title for a property, and continue even if the land is sold. As such they offer a means of achieving long-term conservation results that could be used to satisfy biodiversity gains needed by offset developers.
The Law Commission has been investigating whether and how to introduce conservation covenants into the law of England and Wales since 2012. A consultation paper was published on 28 March 2013 (the consultation period is now closed). The consultation considers such issues as:
- Who should be able to create a conservation covenant?
- What should a conservation covenants be for?
- Should there be public oversight of a new statutory scheme?
- How should conservation covenants be created and recorded?
- How should a conservation covenant be managed?
Victorian Offsetting Rules Revised
Victoria (Australia) has announced new rules for assessing development impacts on biodiversity and for associated biodiversity offsetting. The new rules replace the arrangements that have operated since 2002.
The new approach retains the basic architecture of the previous system but introduces some significant changes including:
- No net loss is now expressed in terms of the contribution made by native vegetation to biodiversity, rather the quality and extent of native vegetation
- The habitat hectare metric still applies to site-based assessments and two new metrics have been introduced for measuring biodiversity importance at the landscape scale – the strategic biodiversity score and the habitat importance score for rare or threatened species
- Like-for-like requirements have been generally relaxed for low and medium risk applications and made more specific for rare or threatened species
- The offsetting rules are expected to encourage more strategically located conservation banks.
The new guidelines and other documentation can be found here.
An Australian Averted Risk Offset Critique
In this on-line article in The Conversation, the authors argue that current Australian offset policies are inadequate to halt biodiversity decline, and in fact are locking in species decline. In the piece, the authors note that the more commonly-used approach of “averted loss” offsets (as opposed improving degraded habitat) necessarily requires assuming a “business as usual” rate of decline in order to determine the gains that could be achieved by preventing that habitat loss. The authors argue that “the problem arises when estimating what that rate of decline might be” as there can be considerable uncertainty concerning the baseline. Moreover, the authors set out the underlying problem of averted loss offsetting as the assumption that ongoing biodiversity decline is the norm, and therefore, they believe that averted loss offsetting can entrench the baseline rate of decline, and cannot in itself reverse declines.
CONFERENCES AND EVENTS
Congress for Conservation Biology 2013
biennial International Congress for Conservation Biology will take place
21-25 July 2013. The congress features more than 100 cutting edge
symposia, workshops, posters, and focus groups; networking
opportunities, field trips, and world-renowned speakers. The
26th ICCB takes place in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, on the shores of the
Chesapeake Bay in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. If you have
questions about ICCB, including the Calls for Proposals, email John Cigliano, chair
of the Local Organizing Committee. Learn more
- The BBOP Secretariat Team
(Kerry ten Kate, Patrick Maguire, Amrei von Hase, Ray Victurine, Sebastian Winkler)