Biodiversity offsets as landscape management policies

As Barbara Bedford already stated, in her 1996 paper on wetland mitigation in the USA, that as the number of exchanges of one ecosystem for another increases, offsets change from a regulatory action aimed at achieving no-net-loss to a landscape management policy.

This implies strategic thinking that goes beyond project per project assessments of like-for-like replacement of lost habitats and functions. Cumulative effects must be taken into account in allowing and offsetting impacts and both zoning (= planning) and nature conservation laws must therefore accommodate future projects and future offsets.

This is made easier by the fact that the growing focus on nature conservation outside protected areas has pushed nature conservation objectives deeper into zoning laws (e.g. Natura 2000 in Europe).

Habitat banking policies are particularly adapted to this requirement, in that they can be established before impacts as part of zoning plans. In Europe, the German Eingriffsregelung policy is a good example of this where municipalities must plan areas for offsetting future urban development included in their zoning and urban planning.

In France, the recent launch of zoning requirements concerning ecological connectivities (known as Trames Verte et Bleue) has raised the question of using offset actions to enhance or restore ecological connectivities. This can be interpreted either as:

  • using offset requirements to compensate for the State’s incapacity to meet its legal obligations regarding nature conservation
  • a useful coordination of publicly and privately funded actions in favour of biodiversity
  • You might find the first interpretation scandalous or be proud of the second but what would the wildlife say?

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    2 Responses to “Biodiversity offsets as landscape management policies”

    1. F@bien says:

      Regarfing cumulative impacts, check out Jared G. Underwood’s forthcoming paper on “Combining Landscape-Level Conservation Planning and Biodiversity Offset Programs: A Case Study” published in Environmental Management: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100370

    2. […] her 1996 paper, Barbara Bedford mentioned that wetland mitigation policies are in effect landscape-level policies for managing and distributing wetlands. In a paper* soon to be published in the journal Wetlands […]

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