Biodiversity offsets: incorporating considerations of ecosystem services and impacts of poverty?
- Biodiversity offsets are used to address environmental impacts of development; although offsets are spreading, their social impacts have received little attention.
- A biodiversity offset project in Madagascar highlights the intertwined positive and negative impacts on local people’s wellbeing.
- Positive impacts include donations and training provided by the offset project but they are perceived to be too late and too little to properly compensate for the conservation restrictions.
- The social impacts of the offset for the largest mine in this low-income country are mainly negative and are not fairly distributed, with the poorest and most forest dependent not receiving the most social compensation. Consideration of social impacts matters for sustainability of offsets and justice.
- There are stringent standards relating to the local costs of offsets.
- However there is a major gap between policies and practice on the ground.
- This must be resolved if offsets are to equitably contribute to conservation.
About Dr Cecile Bidaud Rakotoarivony
Cécile is a socio-anthropologist specialised in environmental policies analysis and forest governance. She has a PhD in development studies and her project, hosted by Bangor University, focused on biodiversity offsets – a market based mechanism aimed at enhancing both economic development and conservation of natural areas.