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Project calendar

21-23 MARCH 2017

Final OpenNESS Annual Meeting in Smolenice, Slovakia

Case 22 - Biodiversity Offsetting in Essex

Please read the OpenNESS case study booklet 'Ecosystem services in operation' for the final outcomes of the cases. More detailed information about the cases and the tools and methods used can be found on Oppla:

Biodiversity offsets are measurable conservation outcomes resulting from actions designed to compensate for significant residual adverse biodiversity impacts arising from project development after appropriate prevention and mitigation measures have been taken. The goal of biodiversity offsetting is to achieve no net loss and preferably net gain of biodiversity on the ground with respect to species composition, habitat structure and ecosystem function and people’s use and cultural values associated with biodiversity.

The European Commission is scheduled to propose a ‘no net loss’ initiative in 2015 and offsetting is likely to figure prominently in this, as one of the most promising mechanisms to deliver no net loss. Similarly, several Member States are expanding the use of offsetting. The UK started pilot projects in 2012, and is considering various policy options to expand the use of offsetting in England. Essex county was chosen as one of the six national pilots. Developers in pilot areas required to provide compensation for biodiversity loss under planning policy can choose to do so through biodiversity offsetting.

Essex has developed an offsetting strategy building on central government guidance and is working with The Environment Bank to implement this strategy.

OpenNESS research within the case study area is still being defined but is likely to explore the extent to which biodiversity offsets contribute to restoring and enhancing natural capital and ecosystem services, and the resilience of offsets in the face of climate change. Research will also aim to document the governance arrangements for successful offsetting in England, with a view to extracting useful lessons for elsewhere in the EU.

Similar research in case study 11 will allow for comparisons to be drawn between areas with differing biophysical conditions and differing approaches to offsetting.

Photo: Coastal wetland – a habitat type that could be expanded by offsetting