To ensure that offsets contribute effectively towards reconciling development and conservation and achieving no net loss of biodiversity, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the key ingredients are for meeting this goal. This guidance document reviews the key conditions and considerations that underpin no net loss. A conceptual framework and decision-making process is proposed to substitute the often ad hoc approaches evident in many biodiversity offset initiatives to date. The primary focus here is on what constitutes best practice in biodiversity offset planning and design when addressing the residual impacts of individual development projects. It is also important to recognise that any offset policy should be set in an appropriate regional context, and that many other factors including legal, financial, institutional and political considerations, can represent major barriers to the delivery of successful biodiversity offsets and to achieving no net loss.
The purpose of this research paper was to help inform the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) research program; rather than be a product of the program. The paper does not represent DOC’s policy position but are some of the more compelling and insightful outputs of the research programme that may contribute to the formation of a position on what might represent best-practice in offsetting.