No net loss of what, for whom?: stakeholder perspectives to Biodiversity Offsetting in England

11 Aug 2017

Market-based instruments (MBIs) have emerged as a popular approach to balance development and conservation objectives. However, their ability to accomplish this is often beset by poor implementation in practice. This is testament to a widening gap between the rate of policy development and implementation of MBIs and the maturity of research and evaluation on their design, and impact on affected stakeholders. Within this context, this paper examines multi-stakeholder perspectives to the adoption of Biodiversity Offsetting in England, an instrument designed to enable biodiversity losses in one place to be compensated through conservation improvements elsewhere. Analysis reveals issues associated with social and ecological compensation of biodiversity loss. Findings suggest that there is a need for a broader consideration of issues surrounding distributive justice, access to nature and the status of ownership over sites of common heritage when accounting for biodiversity loss and its compensation. This message is salient to both the study context as well as the burgeoning international practice of Biodiversity Offsetting.