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Study looks at positive and negative impacts of biodiversity offsets on local communities

23 / 12 / 2016, Mongabaycom News

Large industrial development projects such as hydroelectric dams, oil palm plantations, and mines have an unavoidable impact on the local environment, which in turn can have huge repercussions for biodiversity. One strategy increasingly being adopted in order to mitigate the impacts on wildlife and the provision of ecosystem services are biodiversity offsets, in which a company “offsets” the effects of, say, building a mine in a rainforest by investing in conservation actions elsewhere — habitat restoration or investments aimed at slowing the rate of habitat loss in another area, for instance. The efficacy of biodiversity offsets in achieving “no net loss” or even a “net positive increase” in wild fauna and flora populations has been the subject of much scrutiny, but the same cannot be said of the impacts of biodiversity offsets on local communities. New research shows that local people might actually be suffering negative consequences in addition to a number of benefits from these offsets, however. Biodiversity offsets enjoy a wide range of support. In 2010, the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity agreed to promote biodiversity offsets as a means for businesses to mitigate biodiversity issues associated with their development projects, and the IUCN approved a biodiversity offset policy at its World Conservation Congress earlier this year. The International Finance Corporation and other major lenders now require companies to use offsets in order to compensate for the biodiversity impacts of their operations. But the authors of a study published this week in the journal Conservation &…

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