A global snapshot of marine biodiversity offsetting policy
Biodiversity offsetting is used in diverse policy contexts to reduce, halt or reverse losses of biodiversity arising from development or other uses of the natural environment. Despite increasing interest in the concept of biodiversity offsetting, relatively little attention has been devoted to investigating its use in marine environments. This paper presents a systematic review of documents evidencing the application or inclusion of biodiversity offset principles in policy frameworks concerning the marine environment, and in marine development projects. Biodiversity offsetting policies applicable to marine environments were found to exist in six countries (US, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Colombia) and have been actively considered in at least 27 others. Outside of these, a wide range of other approaches promoting uptake of biodiversity offsetting principles in a marine context were identified. These range from preliminary studies to identify potential compensatory habitat, to nascent biodiversity markets, and project-level application of corporate standards of no net loss. Evidence suggests that where offsetting policy is developed for specific marine application, the preferred approach is to pool financial contributions from developers into funds for strategic action for biodiversity benefit.