BBOP defines biodiversity offsets as ‘measurable conservation outcomes of actions designed to compensate for significant residual adverse biodiversity impacts arising from project development after appropriate prevention and mitigation measures have been taken. The goal of biodiversity offsets is to achieve no net loss and preferably a net gain of biodiversity on the ground with respect to species composition, habitat structure, ecosystem function and people’s use and cultural values associated with biodiversity’.To offset impacts, the conservation outcomes should be quantifiable, since the purpose of a biodiversity offset is to demonstrate a balance between a project’s impacts on biodiversity and the benefits achieved through the offset. This involves measuring both the losses to biodiversity caused by the project and the conservation gains achieved by the offset. For this, you need to be able to answer ‘No Let Loss or Net Gain of what, relative to what’, so that baselines and counterfactuals are a fundamental consideration.

There is no single best way to design and implement mitigation measures including biodiversity offsets. The philosophy of BBOP members has always been to take a principles-based and flexible approach (see the core principles). However, since the approach to defining sound biodiversity offsets was unclear when BBOP was established, the programme has defined a general eight-step framework for a typical offset design process that can help developers satisfy the Principles. In addition, people designing mitigation measures can be guided by the Standard on Biodiversity Offsets, which will help them plan and implement an offset that meets best practice. The roadmap for business also helps companies make a systematic plan for managing their impacts on biodiversity across their operations, while the roadmap for government helps policy-makers at the national, regional and local levels. The roadmaps and handbooks on offset design, implementation and other associated material can be found here.