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Independent Report on Biodiversity Offsets

4 February 2013

This Independent report provides an overview of the business case, principles, methods and challenges relating to biodiversity offsets. Offsets are used to counterbalance the disturbance of land, ecosystems and habitat which occurs in mining and processing operations. Specifically, they are used to compensate for residual unavoidable impacts once the mitigation hierarchy [link to MH guide page] of avoidance, minimisation and restoration of biodiversity have been applied.

  • Section 1 defines biodiversity offsets in comparison with other forms of environmental stewardship.
  • Section 2 sets out the business case illustrated by new government policies and regulations, requirements of financial institutions and the rise in voluntary private sector commitments to no-net-loss or similar.
  • Section 3 outlines offset principles. Principles of stakeholder involvement, additionality, equivalence, permanence and limits to offsetting are explained, using case studies and government legislation as examples.
  • Section 4 outlines a core approach to measuring and exchanging biodiversity losses and gains. A simple four-step method is provided, and its application is illustrated with reference to government regulation and case studies.
  • Section 5 covers offset implementation within regulatory and voluntary regimes, including implementation mechanisms and the potential for using existing recognized areas as hosts for offsets.
  • Section 6 compares biodiversity offsets to the ecosystem services approach and finds the two fields largely distinct, both useful and with some overlap in business case and methods.
  • Section 7 defines some pragmatic steps that ICMM, its members and the conservation community can take to put offsets to work. Effectively, reducing risks for business.
  • Recommendations include: convening a discussion on offsets in protected areas; sharing the risks of designing and implementing offsets and build trust through collaborations between IUCN and ICMM members; learning lessons from regulatory examples; developing a succinct industry guide for biodiversity managers and creating opportunities to share and learn from examples in practice.