In a recent interview, the Opposition environment spokesperson Greg Hunt promised to reverse biodiversity decline in five years if the Coalition wins the forthcoming election.Is this goal achievable…
Is it possible to continue to clear land, but also stop biodiversity decline? In theory, perhaps. This is the apparent promise of biodiversity offsetting, an increasingly popular policy approach. But are our current offset policies really designed to halt declines? We argue the answer is no.
This is a great peice detailing the careful distinction between Offsetting by ecosystem preservation versus ecosystem restoration/creation.
They’re talking about No Net Loss which is an important policy to have – it’s instrumental to have any hope in an effective offset policy that the ultimate goal is to keep what we have right now and lot loose any more.
But it’s not as simple as it sounds. As they say: "No Net Loss of what"??
They argue that if your offset is simply preserving ecosystems that might be lost, this isn’t really No Net Loss.
There are lots of other ways to think about No Net Loss too – Loss of vegetation cover? Loss of species diversity? Loss of ecosystem area in a watershed? A river basin? In a Region? In a country?
And even when we know what we don’t want to loose, how do we work out if we should use preservation or restoration or recreation? Here, these authors argue that preservation policies erode the no net loss policy and I can see their point.
But there are some very important ecosystems and natural areas that badly need proper preservation to survive, and they just aren’t getting it through the normal channels.
Also, there are some very challenging restoration projects that don’t achieve proper conservaiton because the context they are working in is so challenging – we just don’t know everything about conservation and ecology to truly create or restore everything. Sometimes it’s better to keep what you had, as replacing isn’t possible.
We need to truly understand what we mean by No Net Loss – but the preservation/restoration/creation debate needs to happen. And we need detailed understanding such as presented here to make this happen.
It’s complicated though, and anyone that thinks they have one single perfect answer, probably doesn’t get it.
See on theconversation.com