Has Owen Gone Off-piste on Offsetting?

A very good discussion on the potential fiasco of biodiversity offsetting. The Government consultation seemed to imply that ancient woodland would be excluded from offsetting, along with a few other habitat types, but the latest from the Secretary of State suggests that it could be included. The problem is that 100 new trees cannot replace one ancient tree, nor can 100 acres of new woodland replace 1 acre of ancient. The Woodland Trust blog clearly explains the problem.

Woodland Matters

Owen Paterson (Secretary of State for the Environment at Defra) has moved the discussion about biodiversity offsetting both back up the agenda and backwards too, with his comments reported on Saturday that ancient woodland could be part of an offsetting scheme where for every tree lost from an ancient wood there would be 100 new trees planted.

All through last year’s discussions about offsetting there had been agreement between Government advisors, academics and conservation organisations that some habitats are just not suitable for inclusion within an offsetting scheme; ancient woodland was specifically mentioned as such within the Defra consultation and Mr Paterson agreed with this view at the Stakeholder Summit that he hosted in May last year. Hence, our willingness to engage in further discussion to develop a system for biodiversity offsetting that had already safely excluded ancient woodland from its remit.

So it may come as a surprise to…

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