1 Tahrcountry Musings: Is biodiversity offsetting a boon or a licence to trash?

Monday, June 09, 2014

Is biodiversity offsetting a boon or a licence to trash?

Conservationists are divided when it comes to biodiversity offsetting. Replacing nature lost in one area by planting in another area looks enticing, but it can never be a full- fledged nature restoration. It should be adopted only as a last resort.

A recent conference in London Zoo saw heated exchanges.

Jonathan Baillie, conservation director at the Zoological Society of London, said: “Biodiversity offsetting is controversial. It polarises the conservation community. (We must accept) there is going to be development and changes as world population increases from seven billion to 9.2 billion by 2050. It may be appropriate to do offsets but that should be as a last resort.”
Baillie brought in the example of world heritage-classified Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo where plans are afoot for oil exploration. “For this there should not be offsets. There are many other examples where offsets are just not applicable,”

Julia Martin-Lefevre, director-general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said “We cannot compensate for loss in world heritage sites like Virunga. Nor can projects go ahead if it means the extinction of a species. We have to take a precautionary approach.”

Hannah Mowat, of Fern, which tracks EU forest policies, was very severe in her criticism. She said “Destruction of complex and site-specific biodiversity cannot be offset. It is time to be clear that offsetting will not tackle biodiversity loss but may impoverish communities.” “Developers are already gearing up to use biodiversity offsetting to bulldoze some of our most precious wildlife sites. There is no clear evidence that biodiversity offsetting works. Attempts abroad have frequently ended in failure,”

No comments: