Effective marine offsets for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area

Bos, Melissa, Pressey, Robert L., and Stoeckl, Natalie (2014) Effective marine offsets for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Environmental Science & Policy, 42. pp. 1-15.

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Biodiversity offsets are a prevalent mechanism to compensate for development impacts to natural resources, but the appropriateness and efficacy of offsets remain the subjects of research and debate. Effective offsets for impacts to marine resources present even more challenges than those for terrestrial impacts. The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is globally valuable for both biodiversity and heritage, but coastal development is undermining these values, and more effective offsets are needed to compensate for the damage. To improve the effectiveness of marine offsets for the Great Barrier Reef, we recommend that: (1) proponents be required to follow and document their adherence to the mitigation hierarchy, which considers offsets only as a last resort after avoidance and mitigation, (2) proponents and regulators consider the risk of offsetability prior to offset design, (3) the Australian government require offsets to achieve additional, measurable net benefits, relative to the counterfactual baseline, for all affected values, (4) specialist third parties (not government or proponents) design and implement marine offsets, (5) offsets are direct and specific to the affected values, with very minimal investment into research, (6) offsets are consolidated into strategic implementation sites, with long-term legal protection, that are consistent with the zoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and adjacent coastal land uses, (7) the time between impact and net benefit should be minimized, and net benefits should be maintained in perpetuity, (8) proponents pay the full cost of offset implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and cost is agreed upon before the development is approved, and (9) monitoring of the efficacy of offsets is separate to but coordinated with regional monitoring programs for ecosystem health, and monitoring data are made publically available. Within this context, and with careful and rigorous methods as described herein, offsets can contribute to maintaining the Outstanding Universal Value of the multiple-use World Heritage Area.

Item ID: 33580
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-6416
Keywords: Great Barrier Reef; World Heritage Area; biodiversity; offsets; mitigation; compensation
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 3 of the following PhD thesis: Walsh, Melissa Sue (2017) Marine conservation finance: strategies and finance mechanisms to improve the amount and efficacy of investment into marine conservation. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: National Environmental Research Program (NERP), ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2014 23:36
FoR Codes: 14 ECONOMICS > 1402 Applied Economics > 140205 Environment and Resource Economics @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960601 Economic Incentives for Environmental Protection @ 30%
91 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 9199 Other Economic Framework > 919902 Ecological Economics @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 40%
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