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BBOP: Business and Biodiversity Offset Program
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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.









Conference: To No Net Loss of  Biodiversity and Beyond
On 3 and 4 June 2014, 280 individuals from 32 countries met in  London for the first global conference on approaches to avoid,  minimize, restore and offset biodiversity loss was held.  They discussed how to ensure that development  is planned to achieve no net loss or preferably a net gain in  biodiversity.  Hosted by Forest Trends, the Business and Biodiversity  Offsets Programme (BBOP), the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural  Affairs (Defra), and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) at ZSL, the  representatives came from companies in the extractive, energy, infrastructure,  agriculture, forestry and retail sectors, from governments and  intergovernmental organizations, from financial institutions, NGOs, civil  society, universities, research organizations and from consultancies and small  businesses.  They explored international experience and policy on no net  loss and a net gain of biodiversity, and everyone was searching for practical  solutions to reconcile development with environmental protection and social  fairness.

A short list of cross-cutting, key issues that emerged as major themes from  the conference and a longer summary of each session are available from this page.  In addition, most sessions at the conference  were videotaped and are also available from the same page, along with a short  highlights video.  The conference agenda provides links to video recordings of speakers from each recorded session as  well as links to the presentations delivered at the conference. 

A key issue emerging from the conference was a need to undertake  effective land use planning to set priorities and ensure viable conservation  outcomes. Other key issues identified by the conference attendees  included:  the need to strengthen  protection of biodiversity and the importance of developing effective capacity  building programs. More than 90% of attendees who responded to the conference survey  felt there was a greater need for training of professionals in this field.  Another major conclusion emerging from many  participants was the need to develop clear and unambiguous policy requirements around  the world to establish high standards; the adoption of best practice standards  in mitigation (e.g. BBOP Standard, IFC PS6) in order to enable good outcomes  for biodiversity and people;  the need  for effective monitoring, verification and enforcement; and the importance of creating  more opportunities for dialogue on these issues. 

The Summit raised many important issues and engendered  interesting debates that will guide the future development of mitigation  including offsets and land-use planning around the world.   What was  clear was that for offsets to work,  they must form part of a well-developed mitigation plan where project  developers assess their impacts on biodiversity and seek ways to avoid and  minimize those impacts first.

With mitigation rules in place that promote best practice  and with offsets of residual impacts required, there is great potential to  achieve more and better conservation than has been the case with development  planning in the past through funding  from the private sector.

We would like to thank all the  sponsors, listed here, who helped us make this conference a success.

For additional coverage on the NNL Conference see here and here.

Publications and Tools

Policy Development for  Environmental Licensing and Biodiversity Offsets in Latin America
In this  article in the journal PLOS|ONE, authors Ana Villarroya, Ana Cristina  Barros, and Joseph Kiesecker of The Nature Conservancy examine the national  environmental licensing policy frameworks in Argentina, Brazil, Chile,  Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela.  They  find that although most of these countries enable the use of offsets, only  Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru explicitly require their implementation. Moreover,  although detailed offset policies are in place or under development, most  countries do not seem to have strong requirements regarding impact avoidance. They  conclude that areas requiring further work include how best to: (1) ensure conformance  with the mitigation hierarchy; (2) identify the most environmentally preferable  offsets within a landscape context; (3) determine appropriate mitigation  replacement ratios; and (4) ensure appropriate time and effort is given to  monitor offset performance.

Comparing biodiversity offset calculation methods  with a case study in Uzbekistan
In this  paper published in Biological Conservation,  authors Joseph Bull, E.J. Milner-Gulland, K.B. Suttle, and N.J. Singh apply various  biodiversity offset quantification methodologies to a common case study in  order to determine their influence on biodiversity outcomes.  The study uses data from 40 years of  natural gas extraction and impact in Uzbekistan. The authors  first calculate biodiversity impacts by estimating what they call spatial  'functional forms' of disturbance.   Various offset quantification methodologies are then used to calculate  the requisite gain in order to achieve No Net Loss.  The potential biodiversity outcomes are  compared, including "in kind" vs. "out of kind" offsets.  The authors conclude that different approaches can lead to very different ecological  outcomes and that gains from out of kind offsets may outweigh those from  strict in kind offsets.

CBD Releases Guidance on  Integrating Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Standards
In June the Convention on  Biological Diversity (CBD) released guidance on improving biodiversity and  ecosystem services safeguards in voluntary standards and certifications. The document, part of CBD's Technical  Series, was written in collaboration with the UN Environment  Program's World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC). It aims to  introduce standard-setting organizations to key concepts like the mitigation hierarchy  and "landscape / seascape approach", and outline best practice for safeguards.

Biodiversity Banking Assessment for Finland

This new study   offers a preliminary assessment of the applicability of habitat banking  in Finland.  Regulations in Finland  require avoidance and minimization measures for large-scale projects within the  EIA process, but compensation is not currently considered in permitting procedures.  Biodiversity banking is evaluated in this  context and the study identifies a number of advantages and disadvantages for  biodiversity banking in Finland.  In the  former category, the study finds that Finland has well-functioning  institutions; a model upon which to build in the "METSO" voluntary forest  biodiversity conservation program for private forest owners; a number of Finnish companies interested in exploring No Net Loss approaches; significant  experience with restoration activities; and a substantial biological data and  knowledge base to build upon.  The  analysis provides multiple recommendations, including implementing a  long-lasting piloting phase prior to the possible development of biodiversity  banking program.  Although the report is  in Finnish, the abstract and Executive Summary are in English.

Extraction and Biodiversity in Limestone  Areas

Limestone areas are critically important for the rare and understudied  species restricted to them, yet they are increasingly threatened by the imapcts  of quarrying.  To address this issue WWF  International, IUCN, BirdLife International and Fauna & Flora  International, produced this  briefing paper aimed at regulators, associations and operators in  the cement and aggregates industry. The paper describes the  importance of the biodiversity found in limestone areas and why it is  particularly vulnerable to extraction, as well as providing solutions on how  the extractive sector can lower its biodiversity impacts in limestone  areas.  Recommendations include the  application of robust Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management  System. And that biodiversity risks that are identified from new or existing  sites should be addressed in accordance with the mitigation hierarchy.

Importance of Baseline  Specification in Evaluating Conservation Interventions and Achieving No Net  Loss of Biodiversity
In this  paper published in Conservation Biology, the authors  examine the choice of reference frames (baselines or counterfactuals) for  biodiversity offsets and analyze the effects of the choice on whether  interventions met stated objectives. An analytic model and a simulation model  (applied to native grassland offsets in Melbourne are used to investigate the  implications of setting different frames of reference in regions subject to  various biodiversity trends and anthropogenic impacts. Both models showed that  achieving No Net Loss (NNL) depended upon the interaction between reference  frame and background biodiversity trends. With a baseline, offsets were less  likely to achieve NNL where biodiversity was decreasing than where biodiversity  was stable or increasing. With a no-development counterfactual, however, NNL  was achievable only where biodiversity was declining. Otherwise, preventing  development was better for biodiversity. When only development and offset  locations were considered, offsets sometimes resulted in NNL, but not across an  entire region. Choice of reference frame determined feasibility and effort  required to attain objectives when designing and evaluating biodiversity offset  schemes. 

Biodiversity Offsets: A Primer for Canada
This report published by Sustainable  Prosperity and the Institute for the Environment at the University of Ottawa aims to establish a common  understanding of the use of biodiversity offsets, as applicable to Canada, and  define the issues that should be considered by policy-makers considering  implementing biodiversity offsets.  The  report describes how offsets  work, key issues for policy-makers to consider in design and implementation,  and key policy and regulatory considerations. The primer also provides a brief  but useful review of Canada's current experience with compensatory mitigation  mechanisms and lessons learned in other countries. Two general observations are  offered. First, although biodiversity offsets cannot be the sole solution to  the challenge of addressing biodiversity loss and offsetting is the approach of  last resort in the mitigation hierarchy, they have significant potential in  some applications. Second, where there is scope to use biodiversity offsets,  there is no single template or approach for a biodiversity offset system that  will work best in all circumstances. Additional related material, including  presentations, are also available from the website for the February 2014  conference organized by the Institute of the Environment: Biodiversity Offsets in  Canada: Getting It Right, Making a Difference.

The Legal Status of  Environmental Credit Stacking

This article published in Ecology Law Quarterly examines eight different  credit stacking scenarios in the US context, such as stacking endangered  species and carbon credits, and the  emerging rules that govern the sale of credits. The authors find that there is  diversity in how different US federal and state agencies handle credit  stacking, without clear rules on when unbundling stacked credits is  permissible. The article concludes with considerations that agencies could take  into account in developing a credit stacking protocol to avoid double counting  and ecological loss.

Biodiversity offset markets: current challenges and prospective  developments
In this PhD thesis, Carlos  Ferreira researched the creation and development of markets for biodiversity  offsets, identifying biodiversity offsetting programmes in operation worldwide  and focusing for closer evaluation on Eingriffsregelung (Impact Mitigation  Regulation) in Germany; Bio-banking in the United States; and pilot  biodiversity offsets in England.   Analysis of these cases led the author to a number of findings,  including the following:

  1. Biodiversity offsets are varied
  2. Markets for biodiversity offsets require  legal support to emerge, even if this support is indirect
  3. No net loss of biodiversity is the unique  selling point of biodiversity offsets
  4. Better quantification will help, but better  communication is necessary

The author sets out a number of recommendations  to policy-makers in the thesis. The thesis executive  summary may be found here.

Company News

CSBI  announces its workplan
The Cross-Sector Biodiversity Initiative (CSBI) is a partnership  between IPIECA, ICMM and the Equator Principles Association that has come  together to develop and share good practices related to  biodiversity and ecosystem services in the extractive industries, particularly the application of IFC PS6. The  CSBI programme of work is divided into four work streams, with a focus on developing tools and guidance in its  initial phase of work:

  • A timeline tool is being developed and tested  which aims to better align project development, biodiversity impact management,  and financial timelines and milestones.
  • A practical guide will be developed on what  ecological information is needed to inform the biodiversity baseline assessment  for projects.
  • Guidance will be developed on the systematic application  of the mitigation hierarchy.
  • Knowledge sharing, including bi-annual  roundtable events, and quarterly webinars.

More information is available on the CSBI website.

Oil  companies SOCO and Total pledge to steer clear of World Heritage Sites
Following the commitment by Total SA in February to treat World  Heritage Sites as "no-go" areas, British Oil company SOCO followed suit in June by pledging to stay clear of all  World Heritage sites and stop any exploratory activities in Virunga National  Park.   UNESCO and the World Heritage  Committee welcomed this news.  World  Heritage Centre Director Kishore Rao added, "It is  encouraging that this position is now more and more accepted in the oil and  mining industry and is also used as a criterion for several large investment  banks."

Asking more of offsets in Madagascar
Research recently published in the Journal  of Environmental Management suggests that Rio Tinto's offset methodology  for mining impacts in Madagascar could be strengthened. In particular, the  author believes that additionality of the offset may have been weak in places:  "In Madagascar, Rio Tinto did not take into account the fact that the  potential deforestation its offsetting project aimed to avoid was partly  inflicted by the company itself, through road-building, arrival of migrant  workers, and other factors," writes the study's author Malika  Virah-Sawmy in a summary article.

Virah-Sawmy does not suggest that there  is no place for offsets in conservation planning, but rather that scientific  basis and transparency need to keep improving. Additionality and leakage in  particular are "poorly dealt with in existing biodiversity offset  projects and as a result, they are much less effective than they could  be." Read more at

Policy Developments

New South Wales announces new policy (POLICY)

Following  completion of a public consultation the NSW Government has released the NSW biodiversity offsets policy for major projects. The policy will come into effect  on 1 October 2014 for a transitional period of 18 months.  The policy is underpinned by the Framework for Biodiversity Assessment (FBA) which sets out the process for  assessing biodiversity impacts and offset requirements.  The FBA will be complemented by a decision  support tool for calculating biodiversity impacts, the number and types of  credits required to offset those impacts, and help estimate the land area  needed to achieve the offset.   The  credit calculator will be available for use by 1 October 2014.

As part of the policy a  biodiversity offsets fund will be established over the coming 12-18  months.  Offset developers will be able to satisfy their offset requirement  via a monetary contribution to the fund. The fund will act as a broker, making  payments to landowners in exchange for landowners managing biodiversity on  their land in order to meet the offset requirements of project developers. An  interim fund is also under development, which will help landowners set up  stewardship agreements in areas forecast to have a high demand for offsets in  the future.

The new policy marks a shift away from a "like-for-like" requirement  from developers, who are now able to fund other conservation work of equal or  higher conservation priorities if like-for-like offsets are not  available.  One element proposed in the draft  policy, which would have enabled the "discounting" of offsets based on  claimed social and economic benefits, was eliminated based on the public  consultation. The NSW Government characterizes the changes as offering  efficiency to developers and certainty for other stakeholders in an effort to  achieve better outcomes for the environment and communities.  However some groups have been critical of the  changes, see more from the Sydney  Morning Herald.   The NSW government will continue to consult  with stakeholders over the next 12 to 18 months before implementing legislation  that will give full effect to the policy and the fund.

Deadline extended for the public  consultation on the EU initiative on No Net Loss of biodiversity and ecosystem  services.
The deadline  for the ongoing consultation on the EU "no net loss" objective for biodiversity was recently extended to  17 October 2014.  The European Commission launched the consultation as part its EU  Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, which aims to halt biodiversity loss and  to conserve ecosystem services.

Although the  consultation does not propose any specific legislative measures, it does raise  the prospect of the Commission adopting a formal "mitigation hierarchy" for  development.  The consultation asks  whether the Commission should issue an EU framework for offsetting with common  standards and technical guidance; whether offset sites should be secured from  future development; whether offsetting should always be at or in close  proximity to the site where the damage took place; whether offsets should be on  a "like for like" or can be "traded up" (meaning that the  offset may be in the form of rarer or more highly valued biodiversity); and  whether small developments should be exempt.

For further context and background on the EU No Net Loss initiative,  click here and here.  To learn more about the consultation, obtain  background documents including reports from the EU Expert Working Group on No Net Loss, and learn how to submit your  comments click here.  Additional background on  the consultation as well as practical information on submitting comments can be  found on the Biodiversity  Offsets Blog by Marianne Darbi.

World Bank Safeguards Review
The World Bank has begun a public consultation on its environmental  and social safeguard policies. The consultation will run from September  1, 2014 to November 30, 2014. The proposal document is available  here.  The environmental and social  safeguard policies under review include OP 4.01 Environmental Assessment, OP  4.04 Natural Habitats, and OP 4.36 Forests.   Under the proposed structure Environmental and Social Standards (ESSs 1-  10), ESS6: "Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living  Natural Resources" incorporates key provisions of OP/BP4.04 (Natural Habitats)  and OP/BP4.36 (Forests) and requires the borrowers to assess and take measures  to mitigate the impacts of the project on biodiversity, including loss of  habitat.  As part of the review and update  process the Bank is also considering whether and how it could potentially  address a number of emerging areas that are not covered by the current  safeguard policies. These include free, prior and informed consent of  Indigenous People.  An  accompanying background  paper is available here.  

Mark King, Chief Environmental and Social Standards Officer at the World  Bank, states "The proposed framework would also strengthen the conservation of  biodiversity, taking the existing safeguard policy on natural habitats and  forests and introducing more stringent requirements, as well as more clarity on  how risks and adverse impacts on natural habitats must be mitigated."

The World Bank website on the Safeguard Policies Review and Update process states that "during the  consultation period it will seek feedback through a combination of formats,  including online channels and targeted face-to-face meetings". However,  input and comments can also be submitted by email to

New Zealand releases Good  Practice Guidance on Biodiversity Offsetting
The New Zealand Government released its Good Practice Guidance on  Biodiversity Offsetting on the 7th of August. This non-statutory guidance is  the result of a three-year Cross Government Department Research Programme that  investigated offsetting concepts and approaches in New Zealand. The guidance  draws heavily from the BBOP guidance and places it in a New Zealand context,  where in most cases, biodiversity offsetting is a voluntary offering.

The Guidance is designed for policy makers, planners, developers and  decision-makers who need to gain an understanding of the concepts.  Additional resources are also available for a  more technical audience such as ecologists and policy advisors involved in the  design or assessment of a biodiversity offset.   These additional resources include:

  • A decision support tree for  the offsets process
  • Three papers exploring the Limits  to biodiversity offset in New Zealand
  • Currencies and accounting  systems
  • Dealing with uncertainty  and risk: use of multipliers and discount rates
  • Assessing a biodiversity offset  against the BBOP standard
  • Biodiversity offset  management plans

The Guidance, additional technical resources, and an overview of  biodiversity offsetting in New Zealand can all be accessed from this site

France provides additional  information on the application of the mitigation hierarchy
This four  page briefing document published in June by the French Ministry of  Sustainable Development provides additional information regarding the application of the mitigation  hierarchy.  This complements the national  guidelines on the mitigation hierarchy published by the Ministry of Sustainable Development  in 2013.  Notably, the briefing  states explicitly that ecological gain should be achieved in terms of species,  habitats, and ecosystem function.  It  also specifies that the application of the mitigation hierarchy should be  integrated as early as possible into project design, and  reaffirms that avoidance and minimization are priority steps.   If residual impacts remain  after avoidance and minimization steps, compensation is mandatory in the case  of damages on "major environmental issues"  including:

  • remarkable biodiversity (threatened species, Natura 2000  sites, biological reservoirs, surface waters in very good ecological status...);
  • major ecological corridors (migratory routes, corridors  identified in local planning documents...);
  • key local ecosystem services (water purification, health,  recreation.).

The need to  pool compensation measures in the form of habitat banks is also anticipated, and  is something with which France has been experimenting since 2008.   The document states that additional  habitat banking pilot operations will be launched soon to "compare between a  broader range of regions, targeted species or ecosystems and institutional  arrangements".

Conferences and Upcoming Events

CBD COP 12 Business and Biodiversity Forum
Mainstreaming  Biodiversity: Innovative Opportunities for Business: 12-14 October 2014:  Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. The twelfth meeting of the Conference of the  Parties (COP 12) will take place on 6 - 17 October 2014 in Pyeongchang,  Republic of Korea. The CBD Secretariat, in conjunction with the Government of  Korea (and other partners) is planning an extensive programme of  business-related activities during the COP. The business and biodiversity forum  will be a 3 day series of business engagement events, including a High Level  Segment (involving Ministerial and CEO level discussants), a business and  biodiversity workshop, a meeting of the Global Partnership for Business and  Biodiversity, and several media/launch events. The overall theme of the  business forum will be "Mainstreaming Biodiversity: Innovative Opportunities  for Business" which will look at practical methods for businesses to play a  role in the overall objectives of the Convention and the Strategic Plan  2011-2020. Day 1 will be dedicated to several parallel events aimed at  different business stakeholder groups including biotrade, tourism, commodities,  and the Global Partnership. Days 2 and 3 will focus on an exchange of creative practices aimed at  showing how businesses can contribute to the implementation of the Strategic  Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi targets, including through  mainstreaming biodiversity into business practices. The events of the forum  will demonstrate economic opportunities related to biodiversity for business as  well as look at different aspects of the challenges that face companies. More  information can be found at:

16th Annual BIOECON  Conference: Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability
The BIOECON Partners have  announced the Sixteenth Annual International BIOECON conference on the theme of  "Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability". The conference  will be held once again on the premises of Kings College Cambridge, England.  The conference will be of interest to both researchers and policy makers  working on issues broadly in the area of biodiversity, ecosystem services,  sustainable development and natural capital, in both developed and developing  countries. 21-23 September 2014. Cambridge, United Kingdom.  Learn more here.

15th International Association for  Impact Assessment  (IAIA15)

The theme for 2015 will be "Impact assessment in the digital era"

Dates: 20-23 April 2015
Location: Florence, Italy

Job Opportunity

Proforest is seeking a motivated, organised, and experienced  professional to implement its consultancy services in natural resources  management, particularly in relation to forestry and agricultural commodities  in South East Asia (SEA).

The position offers the opportunity to take an executive role in the  management and delivery of Proforest's consultancy services in South East Asia,  and respond to the rapidly growing demand for Proforest's services in the area  of sustainable forestry and agricultural commodities. Based in Kuala Lumpur,  Malaysia, the post will involve business development and coordination of the  agricultural and forestry commodities service area, and managing and/or  participating in a range of projects; particularly in relation to agricultural  production, sourcing and supply-chain management.  This includes providing clients with policy  advice, research, training, audits and other services, tailored to their needs.  Recent clients include RSPO, Sabah Softwoods, Nestle, Shell, Tetra Pak and WWF.  The post will involve international travel and fieldwork , particularly in the  SEA region.

Based in: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia . Application deadline: 17 October  2014. Click  here for more information.


- The BBOP Secretariat Team
(Kerry ten Kate, Patrick Maguire, Amrei von Hase, Ray Victurine, Sebastian Winkler)