Irreplaceable means just that…

Yesterday I attended a meeting in London about Biodiversity Offsetting, and the idea that nature can be bought, sold, traded and moved around for the convenience of humans. In particular, the idea that it can be reduced to units that equate large amounts of low quality habitat with smaller amounts of high quality and irreplaceable habitats. The forum was the 2nd Forum on Natural Commons. You can follow it on Twitter under #naturenot4sale.

I wrote this blog last year, and it formed the basis of my presentation to that meeting. It still holds true. Our woods cannot be replaced by anything else, anywhere else. Nor can many other special places. Biodiversity Offsetting is a flawed concept in itself, and even more flawed when we consider how humans can, do and will implement it in practice. Nature will become something from which money is to be made, not something that has intrinsic value and that belongs to everybody. Please do read this again.

Alvecote Wood

Irreplaceable ancient woodland Irreplaceable ancient woodland

The Government recently published its paper on Biodiversity Offsetting, a scheme whereby damage caused by development can be offset by creation or improvement of habitat elsewhere.  On the face of it, this seems very reasonable.  You build a supermarket on a meadow, and make another meadow elsewhere.  Simples!

The problem is that habitats are not simple things, and this simple scheme is fraught with hazards for our wonderful wildlife.  Look closely at the document and you will see not all is well with this proposal, which proceeds on the premise that a small amount of high distinctiveness (i.e. high quality) habitat can be replaced by a large amount of poorer distinctiveness habitat, that this can be done in an area remote from the community of people and wildlife affected by the development, that developers can in effect choose the type and location of “offsetting” that they…

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