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Journal Articles Biological Conservation Year : 2018

Policy flaws of biodiversity offsetting as a conservation strategy

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Abstract

Biodiversity offsetting is increasingly popular as a policy tool for pursuing economic growth and development with minimal environmental impact, through achieving ‘no net loss’ in terms of biodiversity. However, by analysing the application of biodiversity offsets, this article shows that there are significant organizational limitations to implementing the tool effectively. Our analysis of the tool is framed by the articulation of public policy and strategic analysis, and based on empirical case studies of French linear infrastructure projects. Three organizational limitations are identified: restrictive regulatory procedures, negotiations about appropriate ecological targets which are affected by unbalanced power relationships; and a preference for unambitious but “realistic” measures that are more likely to be implemented. These realities of biodiversity offsetting in practice have three detrimental effects on the conservation sector: they saturate the capacity of administrative organizations responsible for nature conservation; they destabilize nature protection associations looking for funding; and they generate ambiguity about protected area policies. As a consequence, implementation of the tool demands substantial human resource input for limited ecological gain. It destabilizes conservation policies and weakens environmental stakeholders. The latter should get involved themselves in biodiversity offset activities only if this involvement provides additional resources for their core conservation activities. By designing and managing areas for conservation, these activities also frame spatially the previous steps of the mitigation sequence. These conclusions suggest that we should not prioritize biodiversity offsetting as a tool for biodiversity conservation within biodiversity strategies.
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Dates and versions

mnhn-03766667 , version 1 (01-09-2022)

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Fanny Guillet, Luc Semal. Policy flaws of biodiversity offsetting as a conservation strategy. Biological Conservation, 2018, 221, pp.86-90. ⟨10.1016/j.biocon.2018.03.001⟩. ⟨mnhn-03766667⟩
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