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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.









New members

Environmental Defense Fund – EDF is a NGO based in the US and internationally known for its work on global warming, ecosystem restoration, oceans, and human health and other related issues.  Its often advocates market-based solutions to environmental problems.  In order to address increasing impacts on endangered species, EDF is working with private landowners and industry to develop Habitat Exchanges, in which landowners earn credits by creating, maintaining and improving habitat on their properties and selling these credits to industry to offset the impacts of development.  EDF is developing Habitat Exchanges for multiple species, including the monarch butterfly, greater sage-grouse, and several others in the California Central Valley and Southeastern United States.

Wild BusinessWild Business is a consultancy that aims to translate cutting-edge ecological research into practice through corporate business and biodiversity projects. It has a primary focus on no net loss and net gain policy, but also advises on related topics including biodiversity, ecosystem services, natural capital, and rewilding. It has provided consultancy services to private and public sector clients, and partners with academic institutions in developing research projects related to NNL and restoration ecology.

Namibian Uranium Association – the NUA helps implement the Strategic Environmental Management Plan (SEMP), which defines environmental quality targets and indicators for the uranium sector in Namibia.  The SEMP is an outcome of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) conducted to assess potential environmental impacts for the uranium sector as a whole in central Namibia.  The first SEMP annual report for the Erongo region was published in 2013. The report aims to provide strategic direction to the uranium industry, government and other stakeholders in the central Namib in addressing the cumulative impacts (including impacts on biodiversity) of existing and potential developments.

Cross River State Government, Nigeria – A significant proportion of Nigeria's remaining forests are found in Cross River State in south-east Nigeria, which is home to exceptional biodiversity.  The CRS Government is exploring approaches to identify priority biodiversity offset sites, and developing an offset system that can be applied at scale and over the long term. 

Office National pour l'Environnement, Madagascar The ONE (National Office for the Environment in Madagascar) was established in 1990 as a public entity endowed with legal personality and administrative and financial autonomy. It falls under the technical supervision of the Ministry of Environment.  As part of its broader mandate to prevent environmental risks and damages from development projects, ONE is exploring the systematic use of biodiversity offsets as part of the mitigation hierarchy, drawing on existing experience with projects in Madagascar over the last decade.  Other key responsibilities of the ONE are management of environmental information systems, and monitoring and evaluation of the state of the environment in order to inform better decision-making relating to the environment; and environmental certification.

Recent Webinars

First avoid, then minimize, and as a last option compensate: the pitfalls of the common decision sequence to protect wetlands in Alberta and the US

Avoidance is meant to be the first and most critical step in the mitigation hierarchy.  But in many cases insufficient emphasis is placed on avoidance and minimization efforts. In this webinar, Shari Clare, Senior Biologist and Owner of Fiera Biological Consulting and Adjunct Professor, University of Alberta, discusses why wetland avoidance is commonly overlooked in the permitting process, and why as a policy directive, avoidance is seldom effective.

Confronting threats to marine ecosystems through the use of biodiversity offsets.

Despite a global increase in marine development and exploitation marine biodiversity offset development has lagged behind terrestrial experience. A symposium focusing on marine biodiversity offsetting was organized as part of the Society for Conservation Biology Oceania meeting, in Brisbane in July 2016. Nicole Shumway, an organizer of the event, summarizes discussions from the symposium which brought together researchers working in academia, NGO and private industry.

Biodiversity accounting & compensation: Implementation in the UK

David Hill, Environment Bank Chairman presents the current UK biodiversity accounting and compensation) situation. Professor Hill covers how local policy-driven delivery of the system is occurring via Local Planning Authority partnerships. The national registry of land, development of habitat banks and examples of loss/gain calculations at real developments are also discussed. 

The new French Biodiversity Law

In August 2016, following two years of parliamentary debates, France approved its new biodiversity law.  The law states that the application of the mitigation hierarchy must aim for No Net Loss or a Net Gain of biodiversity and makes a number of specifications  regarding implementation, including introducing mitigation banks and conservation easements.  Ophélie Darses, from the French Ministry of Environment, Energy and Sea, and Fabien Quétier, from the French environmental consultancy Biotope, present and discuss the new law and its implications.

All of these webinar recordings are available on the BBOP Webinar page.

BBOP13 Advisory Group meeting

BBOP will hold the 13th meeting of its Advisory Group at the Zoological Society of London on 3-4 November 2016.  Topics of discussion will include new BBOP products in development, including: a corporate roadmap to assist companies navigate whether and how to take on a Net Positive Impact commitment;  a government roadmap helping countries considering implementing No Net Loss policies; and a global survey of policies, initiatives, and projects that are applying the biodiversity mitigation hierarchy.  One day of the meeting will include participation of the UK construction industry association CIRIA, as well as representatives from CIEEM (the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management) and IEMA (the Institute for Environmental Management and Assessment) and focus on international construction industry concerns.  If you work for an organization involved in construction and infrastructure and are interested in improving the mitigation of biodiversity impacts and would like to learn more about BBOP and possibly attend this meeting, please contact us at

Publications and Articles

Think Net Positive! Kerry ten Kate at TEDx

Kerry ten Kate, Director of Forest Trends' Biodiversity Initiative and BBOP Director was recently invited to give a TEDx Talk at the University of Stirling. In her talk, she addresses the apparent conflict between developing a healthy and stable economy on the one hand and the preservation of our natural resources on the other hand. Introducing the concept of the mitigation hierarchy and planning for a "Net Positive Impact on biodiversity" ten Kate presents a practical approach for reconciling environment and development.

Biodiversity net gain – A new role for infrastructure and development in improving Britain's wildlife

A new report by environmental consultancy WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff advocates for a commitment to biodiversity net gain in the UK.  The report draws on findings from international experience, interviews with 200 biodiversity experts across the UK, and other sources. Findings include survey results that 40% of respondents had used a biodiversity net gain approach, but only 29% used biodiversity offsetting, suggesting it was being viewed within the context of the mitigation hierarchy, as a last resort after avoidance, minimization and on-site restoration.  However, half of the respondents 'had mixed views or were unsure of their views' of biodiversity net gains and biodiversity offsets, suggesting a lack of understanding of these approaches.  The report offers six recommendations, including:

  • Biodiversity net gain and the use of the Defra metric could be an obligatory part of the National Planning Policy Framework.
  • Biodiversity net gain could be incorporated into Defra's forthcoming 25 year environment plan.
  • The most recent Defra guidance for biodiversity offsetting could be revised, tightening the offsetting metric used to measure biodiversity net gain, whilst maintaining simplicity.

The full report can be downloaded here: Biodiversity net gain  – A new role for infrastructure and development in improving Britain's wildlife.

Three new reports from UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre

The potential threat to areas of biodiversity importance from current and emerging oil and gas activities in Africa. The report examines the overlap of existing contract blocks, pipelines and future bidding/application blocks with protected areas and Key Biodiversity Areas, and identifies the potential threat to biodiversity posed by different size and type of operating companies. The report can be downloaded here

Strengthening governance of the oil sector with respect to biodiversity: country situation analysis for Uganda and Kenya. This report highlights progress and remaining challenges related to existing governance frameworks in Uganda and Kenya, as case study countries with an emerging hydrocarbon sector. Recommendations include improved regulatory frameworks and capacity, better data management, stronger cross-Ministry working and increased donor coordination.

Marine No Net Loss: A feasibility assessment of implementing no net loss of biodiversity in the sea. This report focuses on five marine industries (ports and harbors, deep sea mining, cabling, aquaculture, and offshore wind) to assess the range of impacts occurring in the marine habitat; examines potential mechanisms for preventative and remediative conservation interventions by habitat type; and reviews current no net loss practice in the marine environment.

Biodiversity offsetting: better for nature

In this article for the International Association of Landscape Ecology, Julia Baker, Biodiversity Technical Specialist at construction company Balfour Beatty, makes the case that the offset framework (not the last-resort offsetting, but the framework itself developed by the international community) provides several advantages over wildlife legalisation that can help the UK meet its target of halting biodiversity loss by 2020.  She argues that the framework accounts for biodiversity losses not picked up by legalisation, as it sets 'no net loss' as the minimum that developers must achieve by applying the mitigation hierarchy.  Also Defra's metric, which calculates gains and losses of biodiversity in "biodiversity units", is habitat-based.  So it measures overall biodiversity loss unlike the 'silo species' legal system.  The metric cannot answer all questions such as where to locate compensatory habitat and which ecological functions to create.  But it does help users understand whether 'no net loss' is achieved and, if not, how much compensatory habitat is needed through offsets to achieve it.  Baker notes that Balfour Beatty follows principles developed by the BBOP and by Defra and implements 'Net Gain' initiatives through partnerships in order to support stakeholder priorities for nature conservation.

Achieving biodiversity benefits with offsets: Research gaps, challenges, and needs

In this paper in the journal Ambio, the authors (Stefan Gelcich , Camila Vargas, Maria Jose Carreras, Juan Carlos Castilla and C. Josh Donlan) question whether researchers are tackling the right issues.  They conclude that although the research on biodiversity offsets is growing rapidly, it is largely focused on wetlands in the United States and dominated by ecological theory. This is seen as problematic as they state that the majority of offset programs are occurring in developing countries across a diversity of ecosystems, and in this context understanding social and political factors are as, or more, important than ecological factors for designing successful programs. One of the take-home messages is that a one-size-fits-all approach to biodiversity offsets is likely to fail. Rather, location-specific research is needed for success, along with guiding principles and methodologies that assure best practice. The authors recommend creating "regionally-based learning platforms focused on the design and execution of offset programs, starting with pilot projects and institutional capacity building".  You can download a copy of the paper here.

The Handbook on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Impact Assessment

This handbook featuring contributions from leading researchers and practitioner presents methodological guidance and discussion of international practice related to the integration of biodiversity and ecosystem services in impact assessment. It aims to support researchers and practitioners in the conceptual development, and operational implementation of impact assessment processes that address biodiversity and ecosystem services.  A variety of case studies covers a broad range of sectors and biomes. The Handbook is divided into four parts. Part I looks at how biodiversity and ecosystem services information can be mainstreamed in different impact assessment types to improve their salience and effectiveness. Part II presents a range of applications in key policy and planning sectors. Part III addresses selected issues and challenges in contemporary practice and research. Part IV summarizes the key messages and provides indications on the way forward.

Biodiversity: The ravages of guns, nets and bulldozers

The authors of this article from the 10 August 2016 edition of the journal Nature conducted a threat analysis for more than 8000 of the most threatened species on the IUCN Red List.  The authors find that despite media reports that focus on climate change as a key threat to biodiversity, the biggest drivers of biodiversity decline by far for threatened or near-threatened species are overexploitation and agriculture, not climate change.   Of the species listed as threatened or near-threatened, 72% are being overexploited for commerce, recreation or subsistence.

Policy Developments

The IUCN Biodiversity Offsets Policy

The IUCN Biodiversity Offsets Policy was recently adopted by the Members Assembly of the World Conservation Congress, which took place 1-10 September 2016 in Hawai'i.  The policy is in line with the BBOP Principles and provides guidance as to where offsets are, and are not, an appropriate conservation tool to ensure that, when offset schemes are used, they lead to positive conservation outcomes.

The policy was developed as a result of a mandate from IUCN Members at the last IUCN Congress in 2012. A technical working group and policy working group supported IUCN in reviewing the issues and drafting the policy, and produced three studies on Biodiversity Offsets; The Biodiversity Offsets Technical Study; Biodiversity Offsets: Policy options for governments; and Technical conditions for positive outcomes from biodiversity offsets.  The draft policy was shared with stakeholders around the world throughout 2015.  The policy covers all aspects of design, implementation and governance of biodiversity offsets within the context of the mitigation hierarchy.  It emphasizes that priority must be given to avoid biodiversity loss. Offsets must be a measure of last resort, and in certain cases, they are not appropriate. 

The resolution adopting the Policy requested the IUCN Director General and Commissions to "issue such guidance as might be necessary for the implementation of this policy; and evaluate and review the implementation of the Policy in the next quadrennial period and report to the Members on its effectiveness".

The Policy lays out the following 15 fundamental principles that are necessary at a minimum in order to achieve the appropriate application of the mitigation hierarchy:

  1. Be applied as early as possible in the project life cycle, to inform potential development decisions.
  2. Explicitly consider the project within a broader landscape or seascape context.  Identify and respect nationally and internationally recognized 'no-go' areas.
  3. Thoroughly examine lower impact alternatives in the project design, including not proceeding with the project at all, recognising that not all impacts can be offset to achieve No Net Loss.
  4. Give priority to avoiding any damage to biodiversity.
  5. Take full account of direct, indirect and cumulative impacts, geographically and over time.
  6. Clearly distinguish impact avoidance, minimisation and on-site restoration measures from offsets.
  7. Design offsets to achieve at least No Net Loss and preferably a Net Gain of biodiversity.
  8. Ensure any biodiversity offsets used as part of the mitigation hierarchy secure additional conservation outcomes that would not have happened otherwise.
  9. Use approaches that are science-based, transparent, participatory, and address the effects of the project and mitigation actions on livelihoods.
  10. Follow a Rights-based Approach, as defined by IUCN resolution WCC-2012-Res-099 .
  11. Identify and put in place the legal, institutional and financial measures needed to ensure long-term governance of all mitigation actions (including any biodiversity offsets).
  12. Apply a rigorous monitoring, evaluation and enforcement system that includes independent verification of all mitigation actions.
  13. Apply the Precautionary principle throughout all stages of the mitigation hierarchy.
  14. Apply the Ecosystem approach in all stages of the mitigation hierarchy.

For more information, see the following:

IUCN Issues Brief on biodiversity offsets

Motion 64 concerning the IUCN policy on biodiversity offsets

Other relevant sessions at the WCC included:

Reconciling development and nature: laying the foundations for collaborative action to scale up implementation of a net gain for biodiversity – This knowledge café was convened to gather input regarding a potential collaborative initiative on net gain.  As an initial basis of discussion, BBOP submitted a Draft Global Inventory of Initiatives on the biodiversity mitigation hierarchy. Objectives of the session included identifying what has been achieved to date through various initiatives, and what stakeholders needed to be able to advance activities in their respective areas.  The consensus of participants was that to promote net gain of biodiversity a new institutional platform or new networks were not needed, but there was significant demand for more examples, case studies, guidance on net gain.  BBOP's Draft Global Inventory and other tools will be further developed and discussed at the meeting of the BBOP Advisory Group on 3-4 November 2016.

Biodiversity Offsets: what are they and what do they mean to different stakeholders? Participants held roundtable discussions divided into stakeholder groups with report-back from each group. Academia raised concerns around additionality, comparability, monitoring and enforceability. The private sector stressed the need for good governance and capacity building to ensure host countries support investments with biodiversity offsets. Citing transparency as an important principle, the government sector noted the lack of data to calculate offset value. NGOs cautioned that: the science is still incomplete; lack of trust remains; and companies should be required to pay mandatory reparations before biodiversity offsets should be entertained.

 Cross Sector Biodiversity Initiative session at the World Conservation Congress

A CSBI panel session titled "Providing Cross‐Sector Leadership for Conservation in Developing and Financing Oil, Gas and Mining: best practice development, collaboration, consultation" was held at the World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii on September 3rd. The purpose of the session was to demonstrate how cross-sector leadership can support the development and integration of best practice in managing and minimizing impacts through collaborative action and open dialogue. CSBI, the Cross-Sector Biodiversity Initiative, is a collaboration between IPIECA, International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM), and the Equator Principles Association representing the oil & gas, mining and financial sectors, respectively. Several CSBI representatives presented at the panel event with Tom Butler (CEO of ICMM) providing introductory remarks. Scott Miller (Newmont) provided an overview of the CSBI partnership and the 2017-2019 key objectives, Lori Anna Conzo (IFC) gave the finance sector perspective on the value of the CSBI partnership, Theresia Ott (Rio Tinto) presented a case study of the application of the mitigation hierarchy in a Rio Tinto project, Jennifer Michael (Chevron) highlighted the value of the CSBI partnership and tools to IPIECA and Chevron and Eugenie Regan (The Biodiversity Consultancy) presented the forthcoming CSBI awareness raising modules for senior managers and biodiversity project managers. 

Summaries of the various sessions can be downloaded from the IUCN Congress homepage

Other relevant motions discussed at the World Conservation Congress included:

Motion 026, "Protected areas and other areas important for biodiversity in relation to environmentally damaging industrial-scale activities and infrastructure development" 

Motion 074, "Strengthening corporate biodiversity measurement, valuation and reporting"  

US Fish and Wildlife Service – Endangered Species Act Compensatory Mitigation Policy 

In response to the November 2015 US Presidential memorandum directing key US government departments and agencies to mitigate development impacts on natural resources, the Department of the Interior updated its mitigation policy and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has drafted a new policy that addresses mitigation of impacts on species listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The FWS released a proposed revised Mitigation Policy in March 2016 and has now proposed a draft Compensatory Mitigation Policy that provides measures to address anticipated but unavoidable adverse impacts of proposed actions on listed species and other resources of concern. The CMP adopts the guiding principles from the revised mitigation policy, including the goal of no net loss toward achieving conservation outcomes for affected resources, or a net benefit in conservation outcomes, whenever the situation merits and doing so is allowed by law.  The policy aims to promote a list of preferred mitigation measures that compensate in advance of impacts such as conservation banking. FWS added another tool to that list in the new policy: the habitat credit exchange, dubbed "Airbnb for wildlife." Most significantly, the draft policy moves the FWS from project-by-project mitigation to strategic mitigation planning at the landscape level. It also sets standards and provides criteria that mitigation programs and projects can meet to achieve conservation goals.   

World Bank Environmental and Social Framework

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved its Environmental and Social Framework (ESF), on August 4, 2016, concluding 4 years of consultation.  Environmental and Social Standard (ESS) 6 focuses on "Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources".  The new framework is expected to go into effect in early 2018.   The revised ESS6 takes on board many of the suggestions made by a variety of BBOP members for improvement to earlier draft versions. 

India's proposed Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill

A proposed new law in India, the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Bill, 2015, is up for consideration. Under the proposed law, funds generated under India's Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980 – which requires projects that cause deforestation to pay for compensatory afforestation – could be diverted to the Green India Mission, India's existing conservation commitment under the UNFCCC.   

In their letter to the editor of the journal Science  titled 'Protecting India's conservation offsets' published on 19th August, Divya Narain and Martine Maron argue that this diversion of offset funds will result in 1.2 million hectares in forgone afforestation, which will be a net loss in biodiversity. The letter advises against such a diversion of offset funds. The authors use this case to highlight the risk of violating additionality in biodiversity offsetting. The widely-accepted principle of additionality requires that biodiversity offsetting support conservation that would not otherwise be implemented, not conservation already planned or underway.

Business News

CSBI Tools and Guidance

The Cross Sector Biodiversity Initiative Tools and Guidance Working Group is working with The Biodiversity Consultancy to develop a series of awareness raising modules. The modules will serve to 1) raise awareness to senior executives on the materiality of biodiversity 2) provide an overview to environmental project managers on the suite of tools available to manage and mitigate biodiversity risk and 3) to offer sector specific case studies for finance, oil and gas, and mining as guides for practical implementation of CSBI tools. The modules will be finalized by the time of the CSBI annual meeting at the end of October. 

Newmont Mining signs landscape-level conservation plan to conserve sagebrush habitat

Newmont Mining has signed an agreement with the US Department of Interior and the state of Nevada to protect sagebrush habitat and species, including greater sage-grouse under the Nevada Conservation Credit System.  In exchange for demonstrating a net gain in sage grouse habitat, Newmont may receive credits that can later be used to offset impacts related to future mining in Nevada.  Restoring and conserving this critical habitat is projected to improve protection "for more than 350 different species of animals and other wildlife and more than 3,500 species of plants that call this ecosystem home," according to Ted Koch, U.S. Fish and Wildlife supervisor for Nevada.  More details on this deal can be found in The Denver Post  and this statement by the Environmental Defense Fund.

Conference and Events

2016 Biodiversity and Business INDABA – South Africa

This year's Indaba has the theme "Transforming risk into opportunity" and will be held 25 & 26 October in Johannesburg, South Africa.  Topics will include: the business case for biodiversity from business' perspective, including financial risks and opportunities; business as a key partner in reversing biodiversity loss; the latest international and national developments in the mainstreaming of biodiversity; and panel discussions and presentations on progress in the mainstreaming of biodiversity into key business sectors in South Africa.  The targeted audience for the Indaba includes representatives from all South African business sectors. More information regarding registration can be found here.

Making Change – Scaling up actions for biodiversity conservation

UNEP-WCMC, Fauna and Flora International, Oxford University and BP will hold a post-IUCN World Conservation Congress workshop on Tuesday, 1st November 2016 in London to discuss the outcomes from the IUCN Congress and explore how improvements to partnerships in the business & biodiversity space can catalyze action.

Enhancing natural capital and delivering biodiversity gain though planning and development - UK

On Tuesday 15th November Natural England will host a conference to take stock of current net positive/net gain approaches to increasing nature through planning and development, in the UK. The conference will bring together delegates from local authorities, infrastructure companies, developers, Government and its agencies, the NGO community, offsetting companies and consultants, academics and professional bodies. Places are strictly limited and are available on a first come first served basis. To reserve your place at this conference please RSVP to

Third Annual Conference of the EU B@B Platform and Natural Capital | Let's talk business!

The third Annual Conference of the EU B@B Platform will take place on 23 November 2016 in The Hague at.  The draft agenda is now available. The Conference will have the theme "Taking Stock, Looking Forward" and have two key objectives:

  • To take stock of what has been achieved by the Platform and its members in 2016 and over the last three years; and
  • To discuss the expectations of members for the future of the EU B@B Platform and to explore how the Platform should engage with businesses in the future in order to support delivery of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy.

The conference is being held back to back with the international conference Natural Capital | Let's talk business! (23 November 2016 to 25 November 2016).

Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity

The thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 13), will be held in Cancun, Mexico, 4 - 17 December 2016.  Official meeting documents for COP13 can be found here.  The meeting will be held back to back with the 8th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP-MOP 8), and the 2nd meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (COP-MOP 2).

Natural Capital Symposium 

The Natural Capital Project will hold the 2017 Natural Capital Symposium at Stanford University from March 20-23, 2017. Featuring keynote speakers Carter Roberts, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund, and Mark Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, this event will bring together leaders and practitioners advancing the science and practice of incorporating nature's diverse values into decisions. More details can be found here.


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