Biodiversity offsetting often results in poor outcomes

The Nature Conservation Council (NCC) has said the use of biodiversity offsetting schemes such as the one underway at Warnervale is adding extinction pressure to the very species those schemes are supposed to protect.
“Biodiversity offsetting lets a developer clear bushland if they buy, protect and improve bushland elsewhere, said NCC CEO, Ms Kate Smolski.
“In theory, offsetting is supposed to ensure that there is no loss in biodiversity values,” Ms Smolski said.
“In practice, offsetting is pushing species to the brink.”
NCC examined case studies where offsets have been used in association with major developments across the state.
It found that in 75 per cent of cases, offsets resulted in poor or disastrous outcomes for wildlife and bushland, while only 25 per cent resulted in adequate outcomes.
None resulted in good outcomes for nature, according to the NCC study.
“The use of dodgy offsets is a new form of greenwash that gives extremely harmful developments a veil of environmental credibility they don’t deserve,” Ms Smolski said.
“The design of the state’s biodiversity offsets schemes has been distorted to meet the demands of industry and are now a massive eco-con that adds extinction pressure to the very species these schemes are supposed to protect.
“The new scheme the government is proposing to bolt on to its new biodiversity and land clearing laws in coming months is the weakest and most environmentally dangerous scheme of them all.
“Rather than closing the loopholes in existing schemes, the government’s proposed Biodiversity Assessment Methodology (BAM) will open them even further, with potentially disastrous consequences for our native species.
“The BAM weakens the ‘like-for-like’ principle, which requires that habitat in offset areas be the same as the habitat being destroyed.
“It fails to provide absolute protection for even the rarest and most precious habitats, and has no mechanism to ensure offset areas are protected in perpetuity.”

Media release,
Mar 9, 2017
James Tremain, Nature Conservation Council