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Biodiversity Offsets: Views, Experiences, and The Business Case (ten Kate et al 2004)



Biodiversity1 offsets are conservation2 activities intended to compensate for the residual, unavoidable harm to biodiversity caused by development projects. Recent experience with regulatory regimes, such as wetland and conservation banking in the USA, tradable forest conservation obligations in Brazil and habitat compensation requirements in Australia, Canada and the EU, has been supplemented by growing interest in the potential of voluntary biodiversity offsets. This experience suggests that biodiversity offsets may be of value to business, government, local communities and conservation groups alike. For example:
Benefits to business: Biodiversity offsets can strengthen companies' license to operate by encouraging regulators to grant permission for new operations and by securing the support of local communities and non-governmental organisations. For companies, investment in biodiversity offsets can provide a cost effective means to demonstrate that society should continue to trust them with access to the land and sea needed for their operations. Benefits to government: Biodiversity offsets offer regulators a mechanism to encourage companies to make significant contributions to conservation, in many cases without the need or new legislation and at less cost than alternative policies. Offsets can also help to ensure that development projects intended to meet growing demand for energy, minerals, metals, crops and transport are planned in the context of sustainable development, and accompanied by counterbalancing measures to secure the conservation of ecosystems and species affected by development.

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