The Ecological Context for Biodiversity Offsetting in Canada

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Information about The Ecological Context for Biodiversity Offsetting in Canada

Published on February 19, 2014

Author: IEUO



Written by Justina Ray, Executive Director and Chief Scientist, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada

Justina C. Ray, Ph.D. Executive Director & Senior Scientist Wildlife Conservation Society Canada

Biodiversity: the variability among living organisms within species, between species, and between ecosystems (CBD 1992)

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005): 15 of the 24 ecosystem services evaluated have degraded over the past half century

Biodiversity is integral to many of the highranking problems on the public radar screen

Despite the widely acknowledged challenges in achieving a full recovery of the structure, functioning and composition of damaged ecosystems, policies that permit the compensated loss of natural habitat -“biodiversity offsets” -have multiplied internationally over the past decade

 Conventional  Justification  Applicable Mitigation for a bad development project in all circumstances  Comprehensive A Panacea environmental protection

Minimise = reduce harm Mitigate = alleviate residual harm Offset = compensate for residual, unavoidable harm.

 Biodiversity gains are comparable to losses from residual effects  Biodiversity gains are additional to outcomes that would have resulted in the absence of the project  Biodiversity gains are lasting and protected against risk of failure  Sufficient ecological information

Currency Metrics for measuring biodiversity Baseline Standard against which to measure no net loss Equivalence Trading like for like Longevity How long will they endure, especially in a dynamic environment Time lag Temporal gap between development impacts occurring and the benefits of offsetting Uncertainty Will the scheme work Reversibility Whether or not impacts can be reversed Thresholds Defining point beyond which offsets are not acceptable

BBOP 2012

Pilgrim et al. 2013

BBOP 2012

 Understanding of probable negative ecological and social impacts in a regional context  Adequate baseline information is required  Regional-scale assessment of risk and impact, analysis of cumulative impacts  Integration of risk with other elements of feasibility  Consideration of biodiversity offsets

World Resources Institute

Intact Forest Landscapes © Global Forest Watch Canada

Pulp and Paper Tenures © Global Forest Watch Canada

All Logging Tenures © Global Forest Watch Canada

Tenures + Roads + Oil & Gas © Global Forest Watch Canada

20077 20107 Since the discovery in 2007 of world-class chromite-nickel-coppergold deposits, there are currently at least 35 mineral exploration and mining companies with active claims in the Ring of Fire.

Unuk River M. Fay

M. Fay

A biodiversity offset should be designed and implemented in a landscape context to achieve the expected measurable conservation outcomes taking into account available information on the full range of biological, social and cultural values of biodiversity and supporting an ecosystem approach.

 Biodiversity is a complex, difficult-to-measure, and non-interchangeable resource, which challenges offsetting: scientific evidence for success is unfavourable  Canada is generally absent framework(s) that enable best practices offsetting principles  This can and will promote BAU by another name  Ultimately, the value of any offset guidance depends on its integration with higher-level biodiversity policies/plans that clarify assumptions, specify conservation goals, address cumulative impacts, and are carefully monitored.

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