Biodiversity offsetting is a process where conservation activity such as habitat creation or restoration is undertaken in one place to gain benefits to local biodiversity in order to compensate for losses incurred during development at another place.
Only considered after all other options for mitigation and enhancement have been applied, it is often a last resort but does provide developers and local planning authorities with the potential to develop strategically important land even if it is currently of high ecological value.
Having been deemed the only option left the developer must provide an ecological appraisal that assesses the existing habitat quality. This report and accompanying species list is then used, in addition to the area of habitat to be affected to create a score which is worked out via a metric designed by DEFRA. The biodiversity units (score) that this metric produces are then put to an offset broker, such as The Environment Bank or a wildlife trust, who will look to bring forward a suitable ‘receptor site’ that holds the correct amount of conservation credits and thereby provide the habitat offset. These conservation credits are worked out via a similar metric that again takes into consideration the area the landowner has to offer, along with the existing habitat condition, the proposed habitat to be achieved via a well prepared management plan, and a number of multiplying factors that correct for the risk of successful delivery. Once this offset has been brokered the habitat creation or restoration is put into place following a detailed management plan, which is in turn monitored through the lifetime of the project.
Green Ecology & Biodiversity Offsetting
Developers – Will need advice on the potential costs of offsetting certain sites. Green Ecology are able to under take a habitat assessment and provide some indication of the biodiversity units that are likely to be achieved. We can advise on approximate costs, although the final number of units that will need to be purchased (i.e. the actual price) can only be worked out by the independent broker (The Environment Bank) once they have the information provided in our report.
Landowners – Whether an NGO such as a wildlife trust or an independent farmer the landowner may need advice on what conservation credits can be achieved with the land they are interested in offering for offsetting. Green Ecology are able to provide advice on the quality of the land in its existing state along with a view to it’s suitability to be transformed into a more valuable and sought after habitat type.
The price of the offset for the developer depends on the cost of the habitat creation or restoration needed to replace the residual loss at the development site. The landowner sets this cost by producing a comprehensive management plan which describes exactly how this habitat would be replaced. Green Ecology have a depth of knowledge in habitat management plans combining both theoretical and practical experience in habitat creation and restoration. A strong and accurate management plan that is easily understood by all parties concerned is the key to achieving the conservation credits needed to win the offset and we are able to help you create this plan.
Another essential part to any biodiversity offsetting scheme, usually required by Local Planning officers, is on-going monitoring and reporting. Green Ecology are able to provide a cost effective means of monitoring the habitat creation/restoration ensuring that the offset lives up to it’s predetermined goals and that the landowner has met their contractual obligations.
Green Ecology have experience of successfully guiding a development project through the biodiversity offsetting process.