Market-based instruments (MBIs) have become a popular approach to balance development and conservation objectives. However, their ability to accomplish this is often hindered by poor implementation. There is a widening gap between, on the one hand, the relatively rapid rate of policy development and implementation of MBIs, and the sluggish pace of research and evaluation on their design and impact on stakeholders.

This Working Paper presents and analyses the perspectives of multiple stakeholders on the adoption in England of Biodiversity Offsetting, an instrument designed to enable biodiversity losses in one place to be compensated through conservation improvements in other nearby sites. The analysis reveals several doubts and challenges associated with social and ecological compensation of biodiversity loss.

The findings suggest that issues of distributive justice, access to nature, and the status of ownership over sites of common heritage need to be given broader consideration when accounting for biodiversity loss and compensation in relation to MBIs. This message is salient to both the UK context and the burgeoning international practice of Biodiversity Offsetting.


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