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Effective Conservation ScienceData Not Dogma$
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Peter Kareiva, Michelle Marvier, and Brian Silliman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198808978

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198808978.001.0001

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Is “no net loss of biodiversity” a good idea?

Is “no net loss of biodiversity” a good idea?

Chapter:
(p.141) Chapter 22 Is “no net loss of biodiversity” a good idea?
Source:
Effective Conservation Science
Author(s):

Martine Maron

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198808978.003.0022

This chapter explores biodiversity offsetting as a tool used to achieve “no net loss” of biodiversity. Unfortunately, no-net-loss offsetting can be—and often is—unintentionally designed in a way that inevitably results in ongoing biodiversity decline. Credit for offset sites is given in proportion to the assumed loss that would happen at those sites if not protected, and this requires clear baselines and good estimates of the risk of loss. This crediting calculation also creates a perverse incentive to overstate—or even genuinely increase—the threat to biodiversity at potential offset sites, in order to generate more offset “credit” that can then be exchanged for damaging actions elsewhere. The phrase “no net loss,” when used without an explicit frame of reference and quantified counterfactual scenario, is meaningless, and potentially misleading. Conservation scientists have a core role in interpreting, communicating, and improving the robustness of offset policy.

Keywords:   biodiversity offsets, compensatory conservation, counterfactuals, frame of reference, mitigation, no net loss, perverse incentives, perverse outcomes

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