Biodiversity offsets – Potential frameworks – Malaysia 2

Few months ago I found a very interesting publication from IUCN on No Net Loss and Net Positive Impact framework for Biodiversity.

The publication is a result of discussion of a working group composed of diverse organizations such as The Biodiversity Consultancy, Global Business and Biodiversity Programme (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy, Biotope, Conservation International, Independent consultants, GFCCP, Shell International, UPM-Kymmenne, Novozymes, Nestle-Nespresso, WWF International.

The working group looked at how the conceptual frameworks of No Net Loss (NNL) and Net Positive Impact (NPI) could be used while ensuring relevant and reliable outcome with regards to biodiversity goals from companies. This publication focuses on the applicability with the Agriculture and Forestry sectors.


The ‘net’ in NNL and NPI acknowledges that some biodiversity losses at the development site are inevitable, and that biodiversity gains may not be perfectly balanced in regards to the time, space, or type of biodiversity impacted. This is due to the inherent limitations of
information available on the species and ecosystems involved.

It is therefore always recommended to overcompensate for residual impacts – meaning that defining and achieving an NPI goal is a precautionary way of ensuring an NNL outcome for biodiversity. For NPI goals to be achieved credibly, they typically must follow a systematic biodiversity management approach commonly known as the ‘mitigation hierarchy’ – widely regarded as the best practice approach for managing biodiversity risk and realizing conservation opportunities in development projects.


Source: Aiama D., Edwards S., Bos G., Ekstrom J., Krueger L., Quétier F., Savy C., Semroc B., Sneary M. and Bennun L. 2015. No Net Loss and Net Positive Impact Approaches for Biodiversity: exploring the potential application of these approaches in the commercial agriculture and forestry sectors. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. 62 pp

However, even if the publication remains at an early stage, I find it very interesting because it actually offers a starting point for many businesses working on biodiversity (environmental side) on how to concretely measure their impact. For ethical companies which want to use it will need to look into additional information to fully integrate the social side of biodiversity.

As well, it gives me more resources to work with for our impact measurement projects.

When in Malaysia, early November, I was actually thinking about this publication and how and if the Palm Oil industry would be interested and able to use such framework to strengthen their sustainable practices.

I don’t know if this publication have been shared with key players in the Palm Oil Industry such as the RSPO, Sime Darby, Wimar, Unilever, Felda Global Venture, The Forest Trust, etc. If not, I hope you will read my post and download the publication.

Find below, some charts from the publication in order to briefly illustrate the concepts. But please have a read to the full publication here, in order to have a better and deeper understanding of their suggestions.

  1. What is a Mitigation Hierarchy?

Mitigation Hierarchy

  1. What are the main steps? You have 5 steps to follow


  1. Example 1: In managed agriculture/Agroforestry/Forestry landscapes with modified habitat

Scenario 1

  1. Example 2: Expanding agriculture/Agroforestry/Forestry area with a majority of natural habitat

Scenario 2

  1. Example 3: Using ecologically degraded areas for agriculture/Agroforestry/Forestry operations

Scenario 3

Although this concept needs us to have a very good understanding of our fields and managed areas, I find it very interesting because it looks beyond the mitigation while taking into considerations some inevitable impacts linked to these kinds of operations.

The following pyramid shows the main benefits of applying such framework.

NPI Benefits

In sum, an NPI approach could be plausible for A&F sectors under two main conditions:

  1. Enhancing native biodiversity, and/or protecting species or areas of conservation concern.
  2. Diversifying agricultural and forestry production species on–site, and/or, improving productivity and natural resource use efficiency on–site along with promotion of safeguards to protect natural habitats off–site against conversion.

And, an NPI approach would not be plausible for A&F sectors under three conditions:

  • where the project will cause large–scale impacts on ecosystems and/or species,
  • where biodiversity protection measures are poorly designed or will not be enforced effectively, and/or
  • where societal biodiversity concerns and local and other relevant stakeholder input has not been taken account of in the NPI goals.

Please note that this publication has been released to show potential applicability, it does not yet address the claim if a NPI goal is reached nor the field tests of such scenarios.