Compenser les atteintes à la biodiversité : expériences internationales et enseignements pour la France. : Point_133_ENG


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Morandeau (D), Vilaysack (D). Paris.



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Compensating for damage
to biodiversity:
international experiments and lessons for France

Compensatory measures are ecological actions, e.g. the restoration of ponds or meadows,
which help to offset losses of biodiversity due to development projects (motorways, win
farms, housing estates, etc.), when the developer has been unable to prevent or reduce these
losses. To avail itself of more efficient compensatory tools, the French Ministry of Sustainable
Development (ne tppmelbeudarre distèvelou Dénim) consulted 29 countries about thei
compensatory practices, the obstacles and applied solutions. The degree of maturity o
compensatory policies varies greatly between countries. Nevertheless, common schemes are
apparent in terms of ecological assessment methods, in addition to economic, financial an
legal mechanisms. Certain solutions could inspire the French methodological framework tha
is currently being developed.

A compensatory measure (or “biodiversity offset”) is compensation requirements for small projects.
an ecological action that aims to restore or recreate a To learn lessons from the compensation practices used
natural environment in order to offset a damage to abroad, a benchmarking study was carried out by the
biodiversity caused by a project or planning document. French Ministry of Sustainable Development via the
It only concerns the residual impact remaining after economic services of the Ministry of Economy
avoidance and impact-reduction measures, which take ( dretèisioenoémcl’e niM) [1]. This study concerned 29
priority. For example, if the building of a road leads, countries and was conducted in the form of a
despite all mitigation measures taken, to the questionnaire.
destruction of wetlands, the developer may, in
compensation, offer to restore a wetland area thatThe 29 countries studied
performs the same ecological functions, in proximity toeaopurE)UE( noinU n: Germany , Austria,

the affected site. Denmark, Spain, Netherlands, Pol d, Czech

In compensation, the developer must identify a Republic, United Kingdom, Slovenia and Sweden.
suitable site, deploy efficient technical measures and COauntsaiddae (tQhuee beEcUnUtideS C ihan ,, Chile,) arB ,lizrasta,linatiAu, rgen: A s,teta
ensure the long-term duration of their effects in Ethiopia, India, Japan, Kenya, Morocco, Mexico
conjunction with stakeholders in the area. The ,
compensation must also complement public actions, Norway, New Zealand, Peru, Russia, Switzerland
especially if it concerns protected areas and species. and Vietnam.

Taking inspiration from experiments carried out n obligation to compensate that varies according
abroad in order to continue strengthening the to the countries and natural environments
French system concerned

In France, compensation is included in several Compensation is not implemented in all countries,
regulatory texts relating to environmental impact either because it is considered to be a “licence to
studies for projects, Natura 2000, the Water Act, etc. destroy biodiversity” (Kenya), or because it indeed
However, the quality of the measures, their application requires new skills (Vietnam).
and efficiency remain incomplete due to the multitude
of investigation procedures, the absence of a In other countries, compensation for damage to
methodological framework and the lack of monitoring biodiversity is provided for in the environmental impact
of the measures undertaken. assessment of projects, often in a marginal manner in
relation to other environmental components (air, noi ,
To contribute to stopping the loss of biodiversity by etc.). In addition to this general framework, 19
2020 – a commitment made by France at the countries reserve compensation for priority natural
international level – a new strategy has been launched environments, such as the forests of Brazil, the
with a strengthening of the recent regulations and the indigenous vegetation of Australia and the wetlands of
development of a shared methodological framework the United States. This targeting thus makes the
[2]. Since 2008, France has also been experimenting compensation more restrictive.
with the system of “compensation banks”: an
economic tool designed to anticipate and pool the

Economy, evaluation and integration of sustainable development service

Le Point sur|no. 133|August 2012

Figure 1: Surveyoftheimplementationof compensatorymeasures in the countries studied

mixed picture of practices

Only a few of the countries that implement compensatory
measures have evaluated their efficiency, which often
proves insufficient. In the Netherlands, according to an
evaluation carried out by the Audit Authority in 2009, the
authorities do not do enough to guarantee the pertinence of
compensatory measures, their prompt implementation and
their long-term management. In the United States, a study
of 30 compensatory measures in California showed that a
half to three-quarters of them might not have achieved their
objectives. On the other hand, in Switzerland, it has been
observed that in 25 years’ time, the overall loss of the
surface area of wet environments could be limited to 1%,
thanks in particular to the monitoring carried out by non-
governmental organisations (NGOs).

Certifying ervice providers to improve the quality o
compensatory measures

To design a compensatory measure, the developer may call
upon the services of service providers, which play an

essential role in conducting quality inventories and
proposing pertinent measures. This is why certain
countries such as Brazil, the United Kingdom and
Switzerland accredit consultancy firms and certify
ecologists’ skills.

In France, where over 4,000 environmental impa
studies are caried eac outra , heyebaredilars onti
underway concerning the creation of a code of ethics, a
the first stage in the development of a scheme to provid
recognition for consultancy firms [3].

Compensation in the form of a financial transfer an
not directly “in kind”: a marginal practice often
carried out as a last resort

Whereas in the majority of countries, the developer takes
direct responsibility for compensation “in kind”, 14 of the
countries studied authorise the payment of a sum of
money to a fund, a public organisation or a local
authority, which then becomes responsible for the
implementation of the compensation. This alternative
exists either as a last resort, if it is impossible to

2 | General Commission for Sustainable Development evaluation and Economy, development service sustainable

Le Point sur|no. 133|August 2012

compensate for the residual impact (Germany, Austria, requirements of future projects. To reconcile the supply and
etc.), or as a mode of compensation in its own right (Brazil, demand and make the system transparent, the United States
India and Russia). In Peru, the financial transfer equates to a have introduced online databases and Australia has
payment for environmental services, in the form of authorised brokers to act as a link between developers and
financing for development projects to benefit local owners managing the biodiversity on their land.
populations affected by an infrastructure .
An analysis of these practices suggests that the use of The emergence of banks has required changes to the
financial transfers should be regulated, given the risks of regulatory framework of the countries concerned. In
shifting the responsibility from the developer, of Germany, for example, the equivalence requirements were
underestimating the amounts and because of uncertainties relaxed so that “land pools” could be established. To reduce
about their allocation. Financial transfer may tend to replace the risk of dissociating the type of impact and the
public financing to benefit biodiversity, as observed in compensation, the American and Australian approach steers
Brazil. To manage these risks, the scope of these transfers is the banks towards priority environments (wetlands and
generally restricted to certain environments (forests, indigenous vegetation) and shares out the supply over the
wetlands or marine habitats), and institutes are appointed territory, in order to maintain the requirements in terms of
to collect and use the funds. The running of these ecological equivalence and geographical proximity.
institutions is sometimes inadequate, as in India, where the
compensation fund, launched in 2002, has been unused i sknab noitasnpeom cthwin ioatemtnepir exe ,htancen FrI
until 2009.pu desabrevid norape oseins ontismo t reibat fahspects, ie
and governance. This choice is explained by the diversity o

In France, financial transfers are not authorised, except fo biodiversity issues within the national ter th andtoryi
environments governed by the Forestry Act (Code forestier ealnoco cimedom, seitfot if teben
in which they are litundid., u eseleser fo cra
activities, may support and bolster ecological measure chieving compensation that is equivalent to the
within a compensation programme, but it may not replac impacts: surface area-based approach vs. multi-criteria
them. assessment

nticipating and pooling compensation requirementsBy definition, a compensatory measure must be equivalent
via banks: a multifaceted mechanismto the impacts of the project (an “in-kind” measure), i.e.

aiming to maintain the environmental quality of the habitat
To anticipate and pool compensation requirements, several or of the species concerned. However, according to the
countries – the United States, Australia and Germany – have ecological issues at stake, certain countries accept “out-of-
made it possible for the developer to deal with a specialist kind” measures, concerning different habitats or species to
third party: the operator of a public or private compensation those affected (Figure 1).
bank. This mechanism is being tested in France, the
Netherlands and Quebec. The availability of an assessment method for ecological gains
and losses is essential to satisfy requirements for

A compensation bank concerns a natural site for which an equivalence (bothd-kininandoudnik-fo-t) and to reflect the
operator implements ecological actionsitna nitioncipa conservation priorities. However, theof biodiversity
the compensation needs relating to future development methodology is often lacking in the countries studied, in
projects within the area concerned. The operator may be which compensation is then defined by surface area ratios
the owner of the site or enter into management contracts that lack a scientific basis (e.g. two hectares of restored
with the owners or operators (e.g. farmers or foresters). The forest compensate for one hectare of lost forest).
financial accompaniment for its actions comes from the
progressive sale of credits to developers who must To go further than simply reasoning in terms of surface area,
compensate for their impacts on the same habitats or certain countries, and especially those in which
species as those targeted by the bank. The price of the compensation banks are established, have developed
credit is based on the cost of the operation and/or supply methods that assess the quality of environments according
and demand. to several parameters. These multi-criteria methods allow
ecological gains and losses to be expressed as a number of

The banks are all heavily regulated by the State, but are points using the same unit of measurement, to facilitate
based upon varied institutional frameworks: the operators cthaleciur latceo mtphaeri sopno.i ntTsh: e stfaolnldoawridnisg ed melitshtso dso f arve lusse d pteo
may be private companies (United States), landowners a ue r
(Australia) or municipalities (Germany). The banks aim to ceonmvirpoanrismoenn t of (Gaenr mafafneyc,t edo uotrs idree stoorf ed Naetnuvriar on2m00e0nt) ; wtihthe
facilitate the implementation of the compensation:
effectiveness of the compensation before the impact, the bSteantcehs)m; armksa trriecperse secontminbgi niitns go ptqiumalailt asttiavteu s a(Andu strqauliaan, tiUtnaittiveed
best cost-effectiveness, ecological consistency linked to the criteria (Switzerland and the United Kingdom) (Figure 2).
consolidation of compensation requirements on the same
site, and simplification of the monitoring. In the countries in fThe methods are not applied automatically, independently
which they are established, the banks tend to become a “ o
favoured method of compensation, as in the United States the ranking of the ecological issues at stake. For minor”
where they are recommended by the authorities for icsosmuepse, nsAatuisotnr alitao caonndc ertnh e a Uhniitgehde r-pKirniogrditoy m enavlliroown mtehnet

wetlands. However, ecological inventories in the United
States and Australia show that several banks have not (“ngdirat”pu-). For major issues, equivalence is strictly
achieved their objectives (see “Point ,ail na uA nartse.: ig.ppaedliatitnoa oS fe v”ergu.n an ot4y p1e3 itmopna cth eoaietsscohta diwor i maj musssuemoc eb tdetasnepy bor f
American mitigation banks). the purchase of the same type of credit in the same
bioregion (“in-kind” compensatio ). Finally, for the most
In their economic model, the banks must integrate the important issues, absolute limits anre established: the Swiss
uncertainty of the market in relation to the compensation

General Commission for Sustainable Development Economy, evaluation and sustainable development service | 3

Le Point sur|no. 133|August 2012

method, for example, does not apply to corridors oft h nottioi add, incingpoli latnemnorivne ,ceanFrn I
national importance, which are considered to belociat ne,uri w gniw foretadna ld t so nob eseatlbsieh
irreplaceable and therefore cannot be impacted. reimtnp t dind bemeopelevserusaemircserp monitor the
[4].torvadli echean t,erarinsaeedcg tockinorA tol f ioctdu
Figure 2:Typology ofassessment methodsfor noitasnserusaemapeom cndlai pmcasti for environment
ecologicalgains andlosses curio ocatehl rot notiotm engii ,dro n rednte blyngeies d
of measures, their execution status and efenss .ceitev
United Kin
NationalValue f(bni oadreivaedresfiintey)d basedy)itrsvedi(bioPerpetuating the effects of compensation: using lega
on cori taeria associated withValue of an habitat based on a and financial tools to facilitate a long-term approach
matrix (distinctiveness and
ceonevfifriocinemntesn (t,a gqeu aoliftythoef itmhepaacretead conditi) and onmultipliersfion
, risks reloatned to the compensatorThe perpetuation of compensatory measures is essential to
natural network, etc.)aim of zero biodiversity loss. It is based onachieving the
the commitment entered into by developers to maintain
Australi(non-pGteecrtmeadnbyiotopes)the management of the sites for a sufficiently long period.
aThis duration is rarely stipulated in the regulations, but can
Va(lnuaetiovfea vveeggetettiaotnioclna)ssiilagnVoo neerufra aoting dising uishts,slile ope-prfidedne toibbe set out in the permit of the development project. It
avaries, according to the countries, from one year to
Region leud eecdtbeadevfailnnd t1h0eseexdpoontieritotraetfu bbisaants eaiccmopse dnaetewtebeulavehtperpetuity, and remains generally short in relation to the
with a bioregional benchmark coduration of the impacts. The requirements of the
aafter mpensaauthorities with regard to this duration are linked to the
available legal tools for purchasing land or managing its
M High standardisationedium standardisationthe compensation site. It is difficult to purchaseuses on

In France, the methodological framework that i uotnirsereiggnc rtain emso in ceiand) e. ( Ig.actninifs git ehe toe duuropin Ela dna ,etatse lea rone urssre pand l
cur depolbey tlenvedeg in[2]tsisniti on ts upriorhe pdue to the priorities in terms of development and food
being given to avoidance and stresses that it is no safety. Therefore, management contracts are sometimes
ossible to compensate for everything. It proposes
rocess to assess the environmental quality of a favoured, with foresters and farmers for example.
environment, employing the principles common to th
multi-criteria methods developed abroad. inatthg er ptupe,semtiw eseehcsment perh commitoisd nab noitasnepmoChe bde troviks p efonaetugrase t
encourages the development of methods targeted a
natural environments afyb detcessi yek oh ueu,sw tiitgna slsagel a laf dnnanialcins iumtrtsen . sa gnoliuteprepouhr tty ihe tghemtnpmel nfotaoi app theiateropr
oing so far as the standardisation adopted i
Germany for non-protected biodiversity. at s th laglootra hel e, s”icwhseeantmevrtaoi n oc“noesresort tors may mArecinaa dnA ustralian operat

onitoring compensation: tracking tools and the no noitatiolpxef oesyp tintaerroc oi nurtcnotsnt crevepan lisd ol s d.,ytieve fi neht site in perpetuht eocpmneasitno
vigilance of NGOs Then, to ensure the long-term funding of the management

of the site, trust funds are sometimes associated with the
In the majority of cases, compensatory measures are
monitored via the developer’s reports and field banks: developers pay money into a fund, from which the
inspections by the authorities. However, this ionrtdeerre stto ise npsauirde ttoh et hme aonpagereamtoer nto fo ft hteh eb saintek. eHaocwh eyveearr, iinn
monitoring is deficient in the majority of the countries Australia these funds are often found to be insufficient.
studied, due to a lack of resources. This insufficiency ,
prevents the delivery of precise feedback.l eht ,eitalsiges oe donpoimt norancIn Fesa m nimi u
In light of these findings, certain countries are
sihd sinifeo dea n secay--bs caocmmitment period. Tleoinsur
developing centralised databanks (Switzerland) ort tahtuturhe fs. Tbasilohtdo eemnsation he compeef rkswtolmaera fcahileavt g ooetc s[a2s] neglos a eh shitlbats
geographical information systems (Mexico and India).
They target field inspections of the most importanto stthit ficapmenimerxp wontitacejorp ee ehT .tCommissariat général
projects and, in the countries concerned, of thes, wbank imphichmoepcoi nsntantme oevorht sam eeganau développement
compensation banks. In certain countries (Brazil, Chile,fo iod permentmmitoc muminim a noeing synergistic rpboel mybc ertat lhed anfI ra.s 0ey3 sebas is,ctedurable
India, Mexico, the Netherlands and Switzerland), NGOsService de l’économie,
play a key role in monitoring.a sht aechanismg land mecnoninroitac snel deribitddn,iode l’évaluation et de
could itprovnitds ea rel ocnugrt-re mescurity for enviremno atntlenedwr ynu nhtyai amewe fro ork l’intégration du

commmedéveloppement durable
itTour Voltaire
For further informationy.iodiversthhcnerF eanoitaN teraStl Bor fgy 92055 La Défense cedex
Tel. :
This article was written byDelphine Morandeau(+33 (0)1 40 81 71 17)and Delphine Vilaysack.
Publication Director

[1] French Ministry of Sustainable Development. « Compensating for damage to biodiversity: an international Xavier Bonnet
Chief Editor
[b2e] ncMhinmisatrèkrien gd us tdudéyv e»n « .oeDl bdeamruucdite uedneamnpsp loSt. Ltisg nneos. d6i8r,e cAturigcuesst n2a0it1o2n.l dé’és ,raulleamstenivet t laon euctiLaurence Demeulenaere
compensation des impacts au milieu naturel ».2 yb310Pbuilxpected cation e.ISSN
[« 3]C oMminpiésttèernec edsu edtépvreolfoepspsieomnneanlti sdauitroanb lde,e sC obnusreeialugxé n'déértaulddees l'aeunrveirgoandrn edmeealn tqeuta ldtiué ddéevse léotpupdesemde'intmdpuarcatappo». R ble. trLegal deposit
August 2012
n°007411-01, mai 2011.
[4] Loi n°2010-788 du 12 juillet 2010 portant engagement national pour l'environnement (art. 230 et 231).