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Investigating the inclusion of ecosystem services in biodiversity offsetting


  • Jacob, Céline
  • Vaissiere, Anne-Charlotte
  • Bas, Adeline
  • Calvet, Coralie


In response to growing international interest regarding the consideration of ecosystem services (ES) in the framework of biodiversity offsetting (BO) and the current lack of guidelines on the subject, we investigated the potential inclusion of ES in BO, highlighting the risks and opportunities. Our argument is premised on the assumption that a practical link already exists between the two and that most of the tools required to make this approach operational are available. But so far, ES are not explicitly taken into account when calculating and designing offsets (whether regulatory or voluntary). One way to integrate ES in BO is to use the Environmental Impact Assessments' framework, here we propose a logical way to integrate ES at each step of the implementation of the mitigation hierarchy and provide details on the links with existing practice. In our proposal, the inclusion of ES is presented as a way to complement current approaches based on the assessment of habitats/species/ecological functions rather than to replace them. We argue that measures proposed to offset biodiversity losses, in addition to respecting ecological performance standards, should equally be chosen to minimize residual losses of ES. The latter require offsetting by different types of complementary measures. Implementing these recommendations as good practice should strengthen the weight of biodiversity, demonstrate consideration of social equity, and result in better acceptance of development projects and the measures proposed to offset them.

Suggested Citation

  • Jacob, Céline & Vaissiere, Anne-Charlotte & Bas, Adeline & Calvet, Coralie, 2016. "Investigating the inclusion of ecosystem services in biodiversity offsetting," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 21(PA), pages 92-102.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoser:v:21:y:2016:i:pa:p:92-102
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2016.07.010

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:eee:ecoser:v:1:y:2012:i:1:p:4-15 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Coralie Calvet & Claude Napoléone & Jean-Michel Salles, 2015. "The Biodiversity Offsetting Dilemma: Between Economic Rationales and Ecological Dynamics," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(6), pages 1-22, June.
    3. Vaissière, Anne-Charlotte & Levrel, Harold, 2015. "Biodiversity offset markets: What are they really? An empirical approach to wetland mitigation banking," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 81-88.
    4. repec:eee:ecoser:v:15:y:2015:i:c:p:125-133 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:ecoser:v:15:y:2015:i:c:p:162-173 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Dunford, Richard W. & Ginn, Thomas C. & Desvousges, William H., 2004. "The use of habitat equivalency analysis in natural resource damage assessments," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 49-70, January.
    7. repec:eee:ecoser:v:16:y:2015:i:c:p:266-274 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:eee:ecoser:v:15:y:2015:i:c:p:181-189 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Gómez-Baggethun, Erik & de Groot, Rudolf & Lomas, Pedro L. & Montes, Carlos, 2010. "The history of ecosystem services in economic theory and practice: From early notions to markets and payment schemes," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 1209-1218, April.
    10. Norgaard, Richard B., 2010. "Ecosystem services: From eye-opening metaphor to complexity blinder," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 1219-1227, April.
    11. Jax, Kurt & Barton, David N. & Chan, Kai M.A. & de Groot, Rudolf & Doyle, Ulrike & Eser, Uta & Görg, Christoph & Gómez-Baggethun, Erik & Griewald, Yuliana & Haber, Wolfgang & Haines-Young, Roy & Heink, 2013. "Ecosystem services and ethics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 260-268.
    12. David Moreno Mateos & Mary E Power & Francisco A Comín & Roxana Yockteng, 2012. "Structural and Functional Loss in Restored Wetland Ecosystems," Working Papers id:4755, eSocialSciences.
    13. Levrel, Harold & Pioch, Sylvain & Spieler, Richard, 2012. "Compensatory mitigation in marine ecosystems: Which indicators for assessing the “no net loss” goal of ecosystem services and ecological functions?," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 1202-1210.
    14. repec:eee:ecoser:v:9:y:2014:i:c:p:191-203 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Vaissière, Anne-Charlotte & Levrel, Harold & Pioch, Sylvain & Carlier, Antoine, 2014. "Biodiversity offsets for offshore wind farm projects: The current situation in Europe," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 172-183.
    16. Renaud Lapeyre & Géraldine Froger & Marie Hrabanski, 2015. "Biodiversity offsets as market-based instruments for ecosystem services? From discourses to practices," Post-Print hal-01631272, HAL.
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    Cited by:

    1. Levrel, Harold & Scemama, Pierre & Vaissière, Anne-Charlotte, 2017. "Should We Be Wary of Mitigation Banking? Evidence Regarding the Risks Associated with this Wetland Offset Arrangement in Florida," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 136-149.


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