Volume 4 Issue 1: February 2009    
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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
 
 
About BBOP

Interested in a short overview of the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program? Check out our brochure HERE.

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Dear BBOP Learning Network,

BBOP will soon conclude its first phase of work by publishing a set of guidelines for biodiversity offset design and implementation.  Following the public consultation process on these documents, in which many Learning Network members participated, the BBOP Advisory Committee met in December 2008 and agreed on a set of biodiversity offset principles which they unanimously support and which they hope other companies, governments and members of civil society will also use as a sound basis for ensuring high quality biodiversity offsets. 

The principles are accompanied by a set of optional Handbooks that offer a source of interim guidance on which to draw when considering, designing and implementing biodiversity offsets, as well as resource papers on biodiversity offsets, impact assessment and stakeholder participation and case studies of the BBOP pilot projects and some other experiences.  You can read more about the outcomes of the meeting including the biodiversity offset principles in the “Meetings” section below.  In the coming months, in addition to publishing these documents, BBOP will refine its work priorities for the coming three years.  For now, we'd like to highlight some meetings, news and publications since our last newsletter and alert you to forthcoming events.

- The BBOP Secretariat Team
(Kerry ten Kate, Ray Victurine, Patrick Maguire, Mahlette Betre, Justin Ward, Assheton Carter)

 

Meetings:

  • International Forum: Climate Change and Eco-efficient Companies, en route to APEC 2008 (September 2008)
  • IUCN World Conservation Congress (October 2008)
  • BBOP 6 Advisory Committee Meeting (December 2008)
  • Madagascar Policy Workshop (February 2009)

Recent BBOP News:

  • BBOP mentioned in a Resolution by the  Ramsar Convention on Wetlands’ Conference of Parties (COP 10 DR 12 Rev 2)
  • International Herald Tribune article and New York Times blog on BBOP and biodiversity offsets

Recent Publications:

  • Nazari, Mehrdad and Don Proebstel. Biodiversity Offsets in Mining
  • New Scientist. A smarter way for oil firms to pay for eco damage
  • Jowit, Juliette. Tories propose 'biocredits' to put cash value on damage to habitats and species
  • Fielder, Helen. Australia: Financiers, Developers And Consent Authorities: Implementation Of Biodiversity Banking And Offset Scheme – Just Days Away
  • Consultation draft of a policy for biodiversity offsets released by the Queensland Government

Looking Forward:

  • BBOP Phase II
 
Meetings

International Forum: Climate Change and Eco-efficient Companies, en route to APEC 2008 (September 2008)

Conrad Savy (CI and BBOP Advisory Committee member) was invited in September 2008 to present on the topic of “Eco-efficiency in the mining sector: New tools for mainstreaming biodiversity into business practice". This formed part of the Peruvian Ministry of Environment’s “Foro Internacional: Cambio Climático y Empresas Ecoeficientes, Rumbo a la APEC 2008”. The presentation covered new tools to support decision-making and eco-efficiency such BBOP’s offset methodology as well as the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) for business (www.ibatforbusiness.org).

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IUCN World Conservation Congress (October 2008)

BBOP conducted a workshop at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona in October 2008 in which five members of the BBOP Advisory Committee led an interactive panel discussion.  An introduction to biodiversity offsets, BBOP, and the draft ‘principles’ was given by Kerry ten Kate, BBOP Director.  Key lessons from recent biodiversity offset projects were presented by Ray Victurine, Wildlife Conservation Society; Stuart Anstee, Rio Tinto; and Jon Ekstrom, independent consultant. Juan Jose Dada of the IFC gave a presentation on BBOP’s priorities for Phase 2.  Questions and discussion with workshop participants included the challenges of measuring biodiversity loss and gain, risk mitigation, the importance of collaboration with key stakeholders, setting limits to where offsets are not appropriate, the integration of offsets within the EIA process, opportunities for learning from the carbon offsets experience, and the challenges of promoting supportive regulatory and policy frameworks.

More information on this event can be found at: http://intranet.iucn.org/kb/pub/wcc/forum_event.cfm?E0361/Final%20Document/

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BBOP 6 Advisory Committee Meeting (December 2008)

The Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP) convened its sixth Program Meeting on December 1 – 3, 2008 at the Bolger Center in Potomac, Maryland, United States. The meeting was particularly important as it brought together 46 members of the Advisory Committee and the BBOP Secretariat to review and approve the final version of the BBOP phase one publication, and make initial decisions on program priorities for the next three years. 

Building on the experiences of its first phase of work (2004 – 2008) and input received through a public consultation process, the BBOP Advisory Committee agreed a set of biodiversity offset principles which they unanimously support and which they hope other companies, governments and members of civil society will also use as a sound basis for ensuring high quality biodiversity offsets.  These 10 principles are included below.

BBOP will publish the results of its first phase of work in a short overview document with an accompanying CD-ROM of supporting material in April 2009.  The overview will describe the vision, mission, and goals of BBOP; achievements of the program; some of the key challenges to offset development; and thoughts on the future of biodiversity offsets.  The accompanying CD-ROM will contain a wealth of support material including a set of three optional Handbooks (Offset Design, Cost-Benefit, and Implementation) that are presented as a source of interim guidance to project developers.  Resource papers relating biodiversity offsets to impact assessment and stakeholder participation will also be included, and case studies of the BBOP pilot projects and other compensatory conservation experiences and a glossary of terms will be available on the CD-ROM.  All of this material will also be made available on the BBOP website at: www.forest-trends.org/biodiversityoffsetprogram/guidelines/

Principles on Biodiversity Offsets:
Supported by the BBOP Advisory Committee

Biodiversity offsets are measurable conservation outcomes resulting from actions designed to compensate for significant residual adverse biodiversity impacts arising from project development[1] after appropriate prevention and mitigation measures have been taken.  The goal of biodiversity offsets is to achieve no net loss and preferably a net gain of biodiversity on the ground with respect to species composition, habitat structure, ecosystem function and people’s use and cultural values associated with biodiversity. 

These principles establish a framework for designing and implementing biodiversity offsets and verifying their success.  Biodiversity offsets should be designed to comply with all relevant national and international law, and planned and implemented in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity and its ecosystem approach, as articulated in National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans.

1.  No net loss:A biodiversity offset should be designed and implemented to achieve in situ,measurable conservation outcomes that can reasonably be expected to result in no net loss and preferably a net gain of biodiversity.
                 
2.   Additional conservation outcomes:A biodiversity offset should achieve conservation outcomes above and beyond results that would have occurred if the offset had not taken place.  Offset design and implementation should avoid displacing activities harmful to biodiversity to other locations.
                 
3.  Adherence to the mitigation hierarchy:A biodiversity offset is a commitment to compensate for significant residual adverse impacts on biodiversity identified after appropriate avoidance, minimization and on-site rehabilitation measures have been taken according to the mitigation hierarchy.
                 
4.  Limits to what can be offset:  There are situations where residual impacts cannot be fully compensated for by a biodiversity offset because of the irreplaceability or vulnerability of the biodiversity affected.
     
5.  Landscape Context:A biodiversity offset should be designed and implemented in a landscape context to achieve the expected measurable conservation outcomes taking into account available information on the full range of biological, social and cultural values of biodiversity and supporting an ecosystem approach.
                 
6.  Stakeholder participation:In areas affected by the project and by the biodiversity offset, the effective participation of stakeholders should be ensured in decision-making about biodiversity offsets, including their evaluation, selection, design, implementation and monitoring.
                 
7.  Equity:A biodiversity offset should be designed and implemented in an equitable manner, which means the sharing among stakeholders of the rights and responsibilities, risks and rewards associated with a project and offset in a fair and balanced way, respecting legal and customary arrangements.  Special consideration should be given to respecting both internationally and nationally recognized rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.
                 
8.  Long-term outcomes:The design and implementation of a biodiversity offset should be based on an adaptive management approach, incorporating monitoring and evaluation, with the objective of securing outcomes that last at least as long as the project’s impacts and preferably in perpetuity.
                 
9.  Transparency:The design and implementation of a biodiversity offset, and communication of its results to the public, should be undertaken in a transparent and timely manner.
                 
10. Science and traditional knowledge:  The design and implementation of a biodiversity offset should be a documented process informed by sound science, including an appropriate consideration of traditional knowledge.

[1]While biodiversity offsets are defined here in terms of specific development projects (such as a road or a mine), they could also be used to compensate for the broader effects of programmes and plans.

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Madagascar Policy Workshop (February 2009)

On Tuesday 3 February 2009, the Wildlife Conservation Society (a member of the BBOP Secretariat)  hosted a short workshop in Antananarivo to explore the potential role of biodiversity offsets in Madagascar.  The workshop coincided with some of the civil unrest that has sadly affected the country over the last month, but there was a good turnout and a useful discussion that will set the scene for future work. Ray Victurine of WCS was joined as a speaker by Kerry ten Kate, BBOP Director; Lisa Gaylord, head of WCS in Madagascar; and Pierre Berner, Head of Environment for the Ambatovy Project in Madagascar, which is one of the BBOP pilot projects. Twenty-five representatives took part in the discussions, from the National Environment Office and the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Sherritt Mining and the Ambatovy Project, Madagascan NGOs Madagasikara Voakajy, the Tany Meva Environmental Foundation, WWF, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Missouri Botanical Garden, Conservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society, KfW and USAID, which supported the workshop.  Discussion revolved around the potential of biodiversity offsets to contribute to the realization of the ‘Madagascar Action Plan’:  a blueprint for sustainable development that establishes the direction, commitments and priorities for the nation from 2007-2012, and which already refers to biodiversity offsets.   The Malagasy participants felt that, conceived within the framework of the MAP and the country’s regional planning goals, biodiversity offsets that could support development as well as conservation outcomes could play an important role in the country.  Participants noted that national guidelines could help establish in which circumstances and locations biodiversity offsets would be applicable within a country such as Madagascar, with its very high levels of biological diversity and endemism.

The response in this workshop and a subsequent meeting with the General Secretary of the Ministry of Environment encouraged BBOP to explore further with the government of Madagascar potential future work on biodiversity offsets, and a further meeting is planned for September.

 
Recent BBOP News

BBOP Mentioned in Resolution from Ramsar Convention on Wetlands resolution (COP 10 DR 12 Rev 2)

At the most recent COP in Korea (October/November 2008), BBOP was mentioned in a resolution as a source from which benefits for the protection of wetlands can be drawn.  The final text is below:

Final Resolution: This resolution (COP10 DR 12 Rev.2) welcomes the Business and Biodiversity Initiative launched at CBD COP 9, and recognizes the role the business sector plays in managing water resources and reducing the risk of unsustainable environmental management. The resolution further:

encourages the business sector to understand the linkages between their activities and wetlands ecosystems, to assess the status and trends of wetland conservation, and to understand and appreciate the values of ecosystem services and products on which they rely; and

encourages decision makers to develop and adopt policies, strategies and approaches, according to existing national and international guidelines and standards for ecosystem management, including wetlands that avoid, remedy or offset adverse impacts on wetland ecosystems, including considering benefits that could be derived from the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme and outputs from the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity initiative.

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International Herald Tribune article and New York Times blog on BBOP and biodiversity offsets

In late October, after the World Conservation Congress, James Kanter wrote several articles on topics  related to BBOP and biodiversity offsets.

The first International Herald Tribune article, highlights BBOP and its partnership with Shell and RioTinto.
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/10/13/business/rbogbio.php/

The second article, on the New York Times Green Inc blog, features an interview with the chief executive at Rio Tinto, Tom Albanese and mining’s impact on biodiversity.  http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/17/mining-giant-says-it-seeks-a-net-positive-impact-on-biodiversity/

The Green Inc blog also included an interview with Jeroen van der Veer, the chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell regarding compulsory carbon markets and the use of biodiversity offsets.  http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/14/chatting-with-shell-about-co2/

 
Recent Publications

Biodiversity Offsets in Mining
By: Mehrdad Nazari and Don Proebstel
Mining Environmental Management, October 2008

Biodiversity offsets were the topic of a recent biodiversity case study in the magazine Mining Environmental Management.  The article discusses principles of biodiversity offsets developed by BBOP, then dives into a case study of Gold Reserve Inc.’s copper-gold project in Venezuela.  The design of the mine was altered to avoid some impacts to biodiversity and the local community after consultations with local stakeholders and environmental NGOs.

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A Smarter Way for Oil Firms to Pay for Eco Damage
New Scientist, January 24 2009

This article highlights a new approach by which companies can compensate for damage to land caused by their operations.  It relates how the oil company BP America partnered with The Nature Conservancy which, using computer models predicted changes in land use to identify offset locations for the Jonah natural gas field in Wyoming that would otherwise likely be developed for further gas projects. By paying to prevent such development, BP America was able to show that it is protecting endangered habitat. The computer model is based on data from the US Department of the Interior. A link to this article can be found at: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126923.900-a-smarter-way-for-oil-firms-to-pay-for-eco-damage.html

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Tories Propose 'Biocredits' to Put Cash Value on Damage to Habitats and Species
By: Jowit, Juliette
Guardian.co.uk, Monday February 9 2009

This article describes how UK Conservative shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert has put forward a policy proposal for a voluntary ‘biocredit’ scheme, whereby developers would compensate for damage caused to habitats and species by proposed development projects by investing in conservation activities to protect or improve biodiversity at another location.  The article mentions the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs consultancy on biodiversity offsets and conservation banking to which BBOP Director Kerry ten Kate and Advisory Committee member Jo Treweek are contributing. A link to this article can be found at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/feb/09/conservatives-biodiversity

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Australia: Financiers, Developers And Consent Authorities: Implementation of Biodiversity Banking and Offset Scheme – Just Days Away
By: Helen Fielder
www.mondaq.com, February 19, 2009 

The Department of Environment and Climate Change of New South Wales expects their biodiversity banking and offset scheme to be implemented by late February. Subsequently, developers applying for a biobanking statement will have to undertake an assessment to determine if there will be any loss to the biodiversity values on the development site and provide the measures to be taken to improve or maintain those values. A developer may do so by purchasing biobanking credits from landowners who have established biobanking sites satisfying the 'improve or maintain' test. The published methodology will allow biodiversity values to be calculated, allowing for the creation of biobanking credits. Once the biobanking credits have been created, usually by landowners entering into a biobanking agreement, they can be traded or purchased by developers.

Prior to this scheme becoming effective, a group of BioBanking Assessors, who are responsible for undertaking the biobanking credit calculations, need to be accredited. There are currently 58 applicants, mostly environmental consultants, working to complete the BioBanking Assessors Course. A link to this article can be found at: http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?articleid=74778

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Consultation draft of a policy for biodiversity offsets released by the Queensland Government

The Queensland Government, Australia, has issued a consultation draft of a policy for biodiversity offsets, whose purpose is:

  • to ensure an equivalent or better biodiversity outcome on a State-wide basis where biodiversity values are lost to impacts from development or other activities
  • to improve the long-term protection and viability of the State’s biodiversity
  • to increase the area of habitat restored and enhanced
  • to ensure development in Queensland is ecologically sustainable

This consultation draft presents a specific-issue offsets policy, consistent with the overarching ‘Queensland Government Environmental Offsets Policy’ which came out in July 2008.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) welcomes written submissions on the consultation draft from individuals and organisations. The final date for providing written submissions is 13 March 2009.

The Consultation Draft can be found here: 
http://www.epa.qld.gov.au/publications/p02761aa.pdf/Policy_for_biodiversity_offsets_consultation_draft.pdf

Further information on providing feedback on the consultation draft, including a list of focus questions, can be found here:
http://www.epa.qld.gov.au/environmental_management/planning_and_guidelines/ policies_and_strategies/environmental_offsets/consultation_draft_policy_for_biodiversity_offsets/

 
Looking Forward

BBOP Phase II

Following the publication of the results of BBOP’s first phase of work in April 2009, BBOP is embarking on an ambitious second phase, from 2009-2011.  We hope to involve more companies, governments, financial institutions and civil society organizations in order to bring more perspectives and practical suggestions to the work on biodiversity offsets; to help foster broader consensus in society on how to achieve no net loss and a net gain of biodiversity; and to scale up the adoption of emerging best practice.  Priorities for phase 2 include:

  • Verification and auditing protocols – developing agreed protocols for verification and auditing of biodiversity offsets.  This could provide a foundation for the future development of internationally agreed and certifiable standards for biodiversity offsets.
  • A broader portfolio of biodiversity offset experiences – demonstrating through BBOP pilot projects and others’ experiences how biodiversity offsets could work in a broad range of countries and industry sectors.
  • Better guidelines – improving the BBOP guidelines on how to design and implement biodiversity offsets, based on broader geographic and sectoral experience of BBOP members and others. 
  • National level interventions – providing technical support and policy advice on biodiversity offsets, landscape-level and regional planning to governments, through general reports and specific advice.  
  • Aggregated offsets and banks – working with government, multiple developers in given regions, and other stakeholders to combine offsets and plan them at the ecoregional and landscape scales, including, where appropriate, the use of conservation banks and the trading of biodiversity credits at national or local levels.
  • Training and capacity building – training a cadre of professionals worldwide to support companies and governments in the design and implementation of biodiversity offsets and associated regulation and policy. 
  • Communications - providing a global forum to make the case that development projects result in no net loss of biodiversity by following the mitigation hierarchy and applying biodiversity offsets, and to share and disseminate collective learning and experience with biodiversity offsets, including market-based and community-oriented approaches.

This Learning Network Newsletter and dialogue with you as members is an important way for BBOP to respond to suggestions and expand the community of individuals interested in sharing ideas on biodiversity offsets.  We value any contributions you may have and are always happy to discuss potential collaborations.  Please feel free to forward this newsletter to others who may be interested and invite them to subscribe. 

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To learn more about the program or contact us about how to get involved, please see www.forest-trends.org/biodiversityoffsetprogram/ or contact: bbop@forest-trends.org.