Compensatory Conservation

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 m.maron@uq.edu.au

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.

Shumway, N., Lunney, D., Seabrook, L., and McAlpine, C. 2015. Saving our national icon: an ecological analysis of the 2011 Australian Senate inquiry into status of the koala. Environmental Science & Policy. 54. 297-303

Shumway, N., and Seabrook, L. 2015. The use of Senate inquiries for threatened species conservation. Ecological Management & Restoration. 16(3). 196-198.

Maron, M., J. R. Rhodes, and P. Gibbons. 2013. Calculating the benefit of conservation actions. Conservation Letters 6:359-367.

Maron, M., P. K. Dunn, C. A. McAlpine, and A. Apan. 2010. Can offsets really compensate for habitat removal? The case of the endangered red‐tailed black‐cockatoo. Journal of Applied Ecology 47:348-355.


Key people

Martine Maron: portrait-mm3reverseI am Associate Professor of Environmental Management and an ARC Future Fellow at The University of Queensland, as well as Deputy Director of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub. My fellowship research focusses on biodiversity offsets, exploring the long-term biodiversity consequences (both intended and unintended) of current offset approaches in order to test how they influence the long-term persistence of biodiversity, as well as examining the risks and consequences of the introduction of offsetting into the conservation policy mix at national and international levels.

Nicole Shumway (PhD candidate):  Biodiversity offsets are increasingly beingNicki used as a mechanism to mitigate impacts from economic expansion and development on species and ecosystems. Marine offset development has lagged behind terrestrial offsets, despite a global increase in marine development and exploitation. The aim of my thesis is to advance both the theoretical and practical basis for marine biodiversity offsets, and to investigate how offsets can be used to minimize impacts on the marine environment and more effectively achieve no net loss of biodiversity.

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