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Biodiversity offsetting can relocate nature away from people: an empirical case study in Western Australia

Kallioleva, Hanna, Gordon, Ascelin, Sharma, Roshan, Bull, Joseph W., Bekessy, Sarah A. (2021) Biodiversity offsetting can relocate nature away from people: an empirical case study in Western Australia. Conservation Science and Practice, . E-ISSN 2578-4854. (In press) (KAR id:89565)

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Regular contact with nature provides multiple health benefits for people, but biodiversity is declining fast in an urbanizing world. Biodiversity offsets are implemented to compensate for the negative residual impacts of economic development projects on biodiversity, but the impacts on people who stand to lose biodiversity from their local environment are rarely considered. Offsetting typically involves creating, restoring or protecting biodiversity values at a specified site that can be located some distance away from the development site. In this article, we explore whether any relocation of nature is occurring due to development and offsets in Western Australia (WA); a jurisdiction with one of the world’s few spatially referenced and comprehensive public offset registers. We analysed data from 158 projects within the WA Environmental Offsets Register. We compared the location of development sites within 50 km (the urban and peri urban zone) and 50-500 km (~one day’s drive) of the central business district (CBD) of Perth with the associated offset sites. The development and offset process together can be considered to contribute to a loss of urban nature as the offset sites tended to be further away from urban areas than the associated development sites. The offset sites were also located in significantly lower population density areas. However, offsets increased the publicly accessible land area by changing land ownership and creating amenity benefit by improving nature values on public land. Nevertheless, it is unclear to what extent relocation of nature further from people is balanced by increased public access to nature. In order to maintain nature connectedness, ecosystem service delivery and environmental justice in cities, we argue offset policies should require spatial proximity between impact and offset sites.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Biodiversity loss, ecosystem services, environmental offsets, green space, nature connectedness, urban nature, wellbeing
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Joseph Bull
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2021 10:27 UTC
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2021 08:16 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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