Biodiversity offsets: design of biodiversity metrics and mechanisms for securing long term conservation benefits

AUTHORS: Matt Rayment-Rupert Haines-David McNeill-Mavourneen Conway-Graham Tucker-Evelyn Underwood

As part of the European Union Biodiversity Strategy 2020, the European Commission introduced a No Net Loss Initiative to help achieve the strategy’s goal of halting the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Biodiversity offsetting is a necessary element of the initiative to compensate for unavoidable impacts. However, biodiversity offsetting needs to be carefully designed and implemented, including its metrics and mechanisms to ensure long term conservation benefits.

In this study for the European Commission, ICF International and IEEP, together with national experts, reviewed international best practice for designing biodiversity offset metrics and establishing mechanisms for ensuring long-term conservation benefits from offsetting. Additionally, we explored ways of implementation and possible challenges at the European level. The study provided guidance on metrics and mechanisms for implementing biodiversity offsetting. The report follows up on the earlier IEEP report on policy options to achieve no net loss of biodiversity.

The study identified the need for establishing common (minimum) standards and realistic mechanisms that can maintain long-term benefits. At the same time, a flexible approach is needed at the EU level, as different offset metrics and different combinations of mechanisms will be appropriate in different EU countries and in different situations and locations.

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