Volume 2 Issue 1: February 2007    
BBOP Header
About BBOP

The Business and Biodiversity Offset Program (BBOP) is a new partnership between companies, governments and conservation experts to explore biodiversity offsets.

Our vision and expectation is that biodiversity offsets will become a standard part of business practice for those companies with a significant impact on biodiversity.

Link to the BBOP website

Vacancy: BBOP Program Manager

-Job Description and Terms of Reference (pdf)

Closing Date: 28 February 2007


Part of the challenge and interest in considering the design of biodiversity offsets is the many interdisciplinary questions to which practical answers are needed. With the Program’s pilot studies, the BBOP Secretariat and Advisory Committee members are currently tackling some burning questions at the heart of the design process:

Measuring structural losses and gains: BBOP is developing a benchmark approach to quantify the biodiversity losses at an impact site and the corresponding gains at the offset. (See Technical Aspects of Offsets-An approach to comparing the amounts of biodiversity losses or gains [ppt]) Where the impact and offset are in similar ecosystems, the benchmark approach can help offset designers establish the scale of offset activities needed to balance the impact or tip the offset into net gain. But what if the impact and offset are in different habitats? How can the value of losses in one type of habitat be compared with the gain in a different type? What implication does comparing ‘apples and pears’ have for defining the scale of offset needed?

Measuring functional losses and gains: Understanding the structural aspects of biodiversity can often provide a good sense of the status and loss or gain of related ecosystem functions and services at the impact and offset sites. In some cases, however, particular functions, such as those provided by wetlands, may need special attention. When is considering structural aspects enough? When is a more detailed functional analysis required? Are existing measuring tools sufficient or is new methodology needed that can be integrated in the offset design process?

Measuring livelihood and amenity losses and gains: Successful biodiversity offsets will involve working with local communities. Projects may affect the biodiversity-based livelihoods and enjoyment of nearby communities and trigger the need for some kind of compensation, some or all of which may relate to conservation activities at the offset site. Securing long-term conservation outcomes at the offset will generally depend on addressing communities’ livelihood needs. Equally, offsets will only help secure a ‘license to operate’ if developers form and maintain good relationships with local communities. (See Socio-economic aspects of biodiversity offsets [ppt]) Sustainable livelihood activities can thus form an important component of biodiversity offsets, but how are they to be measured? How can a project’s impact on livelihoods be quantified? And how can the conservation outcome of livelihood projects at the offset sites be quantified and designed to ensure that local residents are in at least as good a position as they were pre-project?

Assessing the significance of biodiversity: People designing biodiversity offsets may wish to weigh up whether the biodiversity conserved through the offset is of the same, lesser or greater value and significance as that impacted by the project. What should developers do to define whether the significance of the biodiversity impacted by the project is so great that the viability of the project itself should be questioned? What kinds of impact cannot be offset? How can developers determine the optimum point at which to transfer their efforts from the mitigation hierarchy of avoid, minimize and mitigate, to offsets? Should it be a principle that offset activities are undertaken (at least in part) in an area where the biodiversity is of at least equal significance to that impacted?

If you are working on any of these or related issues, we would love to hear from you to share ideas. We can be reached via email at bbop@forest-trends.org.

-The BBOP Secretariat Team

(Kerry ten Kate, Assheton Carter, Paul Mitchell, Mira Inbar, Mahlette Betre, Rachel Miller)


Mira at the Anglo American 
Platinum Mine, Mokopane,
South Africa

BBOP Exchange with Anglo American in South Africa

This fall, Mira Inbar (Project Manager of the Business and Biodiversity Offset Program [BBOP]) undertook a secondment at the Anglo Platinum PPRust mine in Mokopane, South Africa. Anglo Platinum, the world’s largest primary producer of platinum, is undertaking a biodiversity offset project to compensate for the impact of a new 7 km x 2 km x 800 m platinum mine.  Mira was based near this mine for three months and worked with the company to develop an initial biodiversity offset plan. She also collaborated on the Sustainable Development Plan for the mine and learned about corporate strategies for sustainable development and biodiversity management across the Anglo Group of companies.

Anglo American is one of several participants in the BBOP pilot portfolio. Others include Newmont Mining, Shell, Rio Tinto, and the Ambatovy project.



The issue brief, published in November 2006 by the Earthwatch Institute, IUCN, WBCSD and the World Resources Institute, details specific ecosystem challenges that corporations face and the corresponding business implications across a broad range of ecosystem services. The publication is based on international scientific data from the United Nations’ multi-year Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and interviews with a range of business leaders to assess the implications and strategies needed to respond to environmental challenges. The brief recommends that companies explore solutions that will help to conserve ecosystems, such as new energy efficient technologies and products, new businesses to undertake ecosystem restoration, and emerging markets for ecosystem services.

“Integrating economics costs into conservation planning” (pdf)

This article delves into the biological gains possible when economic costs are integrated into conservation planning mechanisms, focusing on the what, why and how of cost integration. The authors seek to assess a new paradigm for conservation planning and the ways in which efficient economic planning can be integrated to create more equitable returns from both an economic and conservation standpoint.

“Livestock’s long shadow: environmental issues and options”

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recently released an in-depth study of the contribution of the livestock sector on the environment. While a major contributor to environmental problems, the large, landscape-scale of agriculture also has potential to contribute positively to solving environmental issues.


New South Wales Threatened Species Legislation Introduced

December 2006  -- The New South Wales Government recently passed the Threatened Species Conservation Amendment, which establishes the use of biodiversity offsets and biobanking to address issues related to the impacts of development on biodiversity. The amendment uses a market-based approach that allows land-owners to earn credits for sites which improve or maintain biodiversity, which are then purchased by developers to offset the negative impact of development on biodiversity.

To view the Threatened Species Conservation Amendment in its entirety, click here (pdf)

Western Australia Position Paper on Environmental Offsets (pdf)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Western Australia published a position paper on environmental offsets in January of 2006 that aims to serve as the basis for the development of a comprehensive government policy on environmental offsets. The EPA concluded that environmental offsets should be utilized, when appropriate, in the approval process for environmentally acceptable projects in order to maintain the state’s environment, and where possible, to enhance the state of the environment. The EPA is currently working to prepare a guidance statement on environmental offsets directed at the environmental impact assessment process.

South Africa Prepares Provincial Guideline on Biodiversity Offsets (pdf)

The Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) of the Western Cape of South Africa prepared a first draft provincial guideline on biodiversity offsets in May 2006. The guideline seeks to provide stakeholders involved in development, including authorities, project, town and regional planners, conservation planners, environmental impact assessment practitioners, NGOs and others, with guidance on questions surrounding the design, planning and implementation of biodiversity offsets. The DEA&DP is currently working on a second draft, which will be available later this year.

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