Offsets, no net loss and net gain policy

Governments and proponents of development are increasingly turning to compensatory mechanisms, such as offsets, to counterbalance unavoidable biodiversity and ecosystem service impacts from development. Biodiversity offsetting is perhaps the most well-known compensatory approach, which involves counterbalancing a loss of biodiversity from a development impact with an equivalent biodiversity gain. However, compensatory conservation spans a broader range of approaches, such as payment into conservation funds and support for underfunded protected areas. Compensatory approaches remain controversial, and the science of sound offsets lags far behind their adoption. Our research aims to interrogate, interpret and improve compensatory approaches to conservation. We work with governments, industry, local communities and international convening bodies to formulate and review policy, identify and develop ways to ameliorate risks, and boost public and policymaker capacity to engage with offsets and compensatory conservation.

Examples of policy impact:

List of relevant papers

To request copies please email Martine Maron

Shumway, N., Watson, J. E. M., Saunders, M. I., and Maron, M. 2018. The risks and opportunities of translating terrestrial biodiversity offsets to the marine realm. BioScience. 68(2).125-133.

Shumway, N., Maron, M., and Watson, J. E. M. 2017, Australia needs a wake-up call. Science. 355(6328). 918.

Bull, J. W., A. Gordon, J. E. Watson, and M. Maron. 2016. Seeking convergence on the key concepts in ‘no net loss’ policy. Journal of Applied Ecology 53:1686-1693.

Gibbons, P., M. C. Evans, M. Maron, A. Gordon, D. Le Roux, A. von Hase, D. B. Lindenmayer, and H. Possingham. 2016. A loss-gain calculator for biodiversity offsets and the circumstances in which no net loss is feasible. Conservation Letters 9:252-259.

Narain, D., and M. Maron. 2016. Protecting India’s conservation offsets. Science 353:758-758.

Maron, M., A. Gordon, B. Mackey, H. Possingham, and J. E. Watson. 2016. Interactions between biodiversity offsets and protected area commitments: avoiding perverse outcomes. Conservation Letters 9:384-389.

Maron, M., C. D. Ives, H. Kujala, J. W. Bull, F. J. Maseyk, S. Bekessy, A. Gordon, J. E. Watson, P. E. Lentini, and P. Gibbons. 2016. Taming a Wicked Problem: Resolving Controversies in Biodiversity Offsetting. BioScience:biw038.

Maseyk, F. J. F., L. P. Barea, R. T. T. Stephens, H. P. Posssingham, G. Dutson, and M. Maron. 2016. A disaggregated biodiversity offset accounting model to improve estimation of ecological equivalency and no net loss. Biological Conservation 204: 322-332.

Maron, M., A. Gordon, B. G. Mackey, H. P. Possingham, and J. Watson. 2015. Stop misuse of biodiversity offsets. Nature 523:401-403.

Miller, K. L., J. A. Trezise, S. Kraus, K. Dripps, M. C. Evans, P. Gibbons, H. P. Possingham, and M. Maron. 2015. The development of the Australian environmental offsets policy: from theory to practice. Environmental Conservation:1-9.

Gordon, A., J. W. Bull, C. Wilcox, and M. Maron. 2015. Perverse incentives risk undermining biodiversity offset policies. Journal of Applied Ecology 52:532-537.

Maron, M., J. W. Bull, M. C. Evans, and A. Gordon. 2015. Locking in loss: Baselines of decline in Australian biodiversity offset policies. Biological Conservation 192:504–512.

Key people

Martine Maron: portrait-mm3reverseImproving policy and practice around no net loss and net gain approaches. I am particularly interested in the long-term biodiversity consequences of offset approaches and the risks and consequences of the introduction of offsetting into the conservation policy mix at national and international levels.


Key collaborators (click on name to link to website)

Dr Laura Sonter, Dr Joe Bull, Dr Ascelin Gordon, A/P James Watson, Prof Hugh Possingham, Prof JP Metzger, Divya Narain, Amrei von Hase, Megan Evans, Brad Dreis, Fleur Maseyk