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National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Project Description

Compensatory approaches to achieving conservation and other valued societal needs (ecosystem services) in the face of development are gaining importance globally. Increasingly, governments and proponents of development are turning to compensatory mechanisms, such as offsets, to counterbalance unavoidable biodiversity and ecosystem service impacts from development and provide urgently-needed resources for underfunded environment programs, especially protected area establishment and management. Biodiversity offsetting is perhaps the most well known compensatory approach, but it is not the only one, nor is it necessarily the most appropriate in a given context. While offsetting – if done well - represents a very strict standard, with trading restricted to within narrow categories of biota and a goal of at least 'nonet loss' of biodiversity, the most effective type of compensation will depend on a large range of factors. Context is important. No net loss outcomes in many cases may be incompatible with essential development, strict like-for-like requirements may mean that opportunities for better outcomes for higher conservation priorities are missed, and different approaches to trading biodiversity losses for gains have different implications for local communities affected by both sides of the exchange. This project brings together world leaders in compensatory approaches from academic institutions, international conservation organizations, and specialist consultancies working in implementation countries, major industry, and an international lending organization. It takes advantage of an array of existing environmental, economic and social data to identify the circumstances under which different compensatory approaches generate the best outcomes for protected areas and conservation and local communities. The group will develop criteria, linked to sectorial and in-country circumstances, for identifying the type of compensatory approach most likely to deliver equitable conservation benefits across a range of objectives, and take advantage of current activities to test and illustrate biodiversity and ecosystem service outcomes from alternative compensatory approaches. Ultimately, we will chart a policy transition process from a controlled net loss scenario in early stages of development, potentially focused primarily on funding the establishment of an effective protected area system, to a robust net gain approach as an end point to biodiversity loss. A SNAPP working group, bringing together experts from across the spectrum from policy leaders and researchers to practitioners, is the ideal vehicle to generate urgently needed guidance and have immediate real-world impact and influence.

The information here may be out of date, please refer to for more current information.

Working Group Participants

Principal Investigator(s)

Martine Maron, James E. M. Watson

Project Dates

Start: January 1, 2017

End: December 31, 2018



Leon Bennun
The Biodiversity Consultancy
Philippe Bouzet
Thomas Brooks
NatureServe/Association for Biodiversity Information
Joseph W. Bull
University of Kent
Hugo Costa
Wildlife Conservation Society
Guy Dutson
The Biodiversity Consultancy
Steve Edwards
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Hedley Grantham
Wildlife Conservation Society
Victoria Griffiths
University of Oxford
Joseph M. Kiesecker
The Nature Conservancy
Martine Maron
University of Queensland
Hugh P. Possingham
University of Queensland
Philippe Puydarrieux
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Fabien Quetier
Hugo Rainey
Wildlife Conservation Society
Dilys Roe
International Institute for Environment and Development
Conrad Savy
International Finance Corporation
Nicole Shumway
University of Queensland
Jeremy Simmonds
University of Queensland
Laura Sonter
University of Queensland
Mathieu Souquet
Todd Stevens
Wildlife Conservation Society
Kerry ten Kate
Forest Trends
Raymond Victurine
Wildlife Conservation Society
Amrei von Hase
Forest Trends
James E. M. Watson
Wildlife Conservation Society


  1. Book Chapter / 2018

    Ensuring no net loss for people as well as biodiversity: good practice principles

  2. Journal Article / 2019

    Global no net loss of natural ecosystems

  3. Journal Article / 2019

    Moving from biodiversity offsets to a target-based approach for ecological compensation

  4. Journal Article / 2020

    Local conditions and policy design determine whether ecological compensation can achieve No Net Loss goals

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