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Wednesday, August 1

Biodiversity offsets cannot restore lost species and ecological bonds, say conservation scientists

Refuting the common misconception that destructing natural environment in one place can be replaced by restoring or protecting a similar habitat elsewhere(which is called Biodiversity offsets or compensatory mitigation), a group of top academicians in the field of biological conservation has said that biodiversity offsets often fail to restore lost species and the relationship between them.

In a paper published in the journal of Biological Conservation, titled “Faustian bargains? Restoration realities in the context of biodiversity offset policies”, they argue that a majority of such offsetting programmes have found to be less successful.

According to the experts, there are 64 offset programmes ongoing as part of development projects happening across the globe. In all these projects, destruction of natural environment at one place is justified by rehabilitation attempts done at a similar habitat elsewhere.

Measuring the success of biodiversity offsetting

biodiversity offsetting, compensatory mitigation
Different factors that limit the success of biodiversity offsetting
illustration courtesy Science Direct
Expressing their concern over the spread of offsetting in the environmental policies across the countries as a remedy for destructing natural environment for development and other purpose, the scientists have pointed out that the success of such rehabilitation programmes are difficult o measure.

 Pointing out the difficulty to measure the success of such programmes, the paper says 

“Confidence in the ability of restoration to deliver genuine biodiversity offsets is undermined by the problems of defining and measuring the biodiversity values that are lost and gained, considerable uncertainty surrounding the effectiveness of restoration techniques, and long time-lags.”

Hollow claims of restoration

The new study will expose the corporate entities and development agencies who boast about their afforestation initiatives. The report writes off such claims since it is difficult to rebuild a destructed habitat along with the wiped out species and the relationship between them, especially if endemic species and centuries-old trees are involved.

Martine Marona and Clive A. McAlpinea of the University of Queensland, Richard J. Hobbs and Kimberly Christie of the University of Western Australia, Atte Moilanen of University of Helsinki, Jeffrey W. Matthews of University of Illinois, Toby A. Gardner of University of Cambridge, David A. Keith of New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change and David B. Lindenmayer of the Australian National University has co-authored the paper. 

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