Offsets and the Mitigation Hierarchy
The mitigation hierarchy comprises:
- Avoidance: measures taken to avoid creating impacts from the outset, such as careful spatial or temporal placement of elements of infrastructure, in order to completely avoid impacts on certain components of biodiversity. This results in a change to a ‘business as usual’ approach.
- Minimisation: measures taken to reduce the duration, intensity and / or extent of impacts that cannot be completely avoided, as far as is practically feasible.
- Rehabilitation / restoration: measures taken to rehabilitate degraded ecosystems or restore cleared ecosystems following exposure to impacts that cannot be completely avoided and / or minimised.
- Compensation or Offset: measures taken to compensate for any residual significant, adverse impacts that cannot be avoided, minimised and / or rehabilitated or restored, Measures to achieve no net loss or a net gain of biodiversity for at least as long as the project’s impacts are biodiversity offsets. Offsets can take the form of positive management interventions such as restoration of degraded habitat, arrested degradation or averted risk, where there is imminent or projected loss of biodiversity. Measures that address residual impacts but are not quantified to achieve no net loss or not secured for the long term are compensation, otherwise known as compensatory mitigation.