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Perverse incentives risk undermining biodiversity offset policies


Gordon, A and Bull, JW and Wilcox, C and Maron, M, Perverse incentives risk undermining biodiversity offset policies, Journal of Applied Ecology, 52, (2) pp. 532-537. ISSN 0021-8901 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12398


Offsetting is emerging as an important but controversial approach for managing environment-development conflicts. Biodiversity offsets are designed to compensate for damage to biodiversity from development by providing biodiversity gains elsewhere. Here, we suggest how biodiversity offset policies can generate behaviours that exacerbate biodiversity decline, and identify four perverse incentives that could arise even from soundly designed policies. These include incentives for (i) entrenching or exacerbating baseline biodiversity declines, (ii) winding back non-offset conservation actions, (iii) crowding out of conservation volunteerism and (iv) false public confidence in environmental outcomes due to marketing offset actions as gains. Synthesis and applications. Despite its goal of improving biodiversity outcomes, there is potential for best-practice offsetting to achieve the opposite result. Reducing this risk requires coupling offset crediting baselines to measured trajectories of biodiversity change and understanding the potential interaction between offsetting and other environmental policies.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:baseline, biodiversity offset, carbon offset, crediting baseline, offset policy, perverse incentive, policy evaluation, baseline conditions, best management practice, biodiversity, environmental management, environmental policy, incentive
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Other environmental management
Objective Field:Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Wilcox, C (Dr Chris Wilcox)
ID Code:118906
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:95
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2017-07-21
Last Modified:2017-08-09

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