At the request of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), TBC prepared an in-depth technical resource paper to help IUCN develop its approach to biodiversity offsets. The paper analyses the conditions under which biodiversity offset approaches provide positive outcomes for biodiversity, including the conditions under which it is possible to achieve No Net Loss through the implementation of offsets. This comprehensive report is free to download.
The report assesses recent scientific and practical advances related to offsets, concluding that there is high-level consensus on biodiversity offsetting principles and best-practice, with only a couple of ‘big issues’ needing concerted further research. The scientific community, informed stakeholders and much government policy agree on the basic
principles to achieve no net loss and for optimal offsetting. The report demonstrates that there is often a trade-off between science and pragmatism: basing an offsetting system on the best available science may lead to it being impossible to implement because of the transaction costs such a system would incur. The report thus concludes that there is a need for the conservation community to balance science and pragmatism in offsetting. The conservation community should applaud voluntary offset efforts, actively support attempts to achieve no net loss through best-practice offsets, and provide practical guidance and constructive criticism within a safe learning environment. Current offsetting outcomes would be most improved by integration of societal biodiversity conservation goals, greater adherence to the mitigation hierarchy (i.e. as a last resort after avoidance, minimisation, restoration and rehabilitation) and better implementation.