Quantifying Biodiversity Gains

Agriculture is the largest land-user and therefore has the largest impact of any industry (note industrial scale fishing may run it close!) on native vegetation and wildlife communities. We need to produce food, so loss of biodiversity in these areas is unavoidable. However, there are often opportunities within farms to restore biodiversity to less productive parts of the farm through development of small areas of more suitable habitat, changing approaches on hedge management or re-introducing forest cover for crops which can benefit from being grown in shade (e.g. cacao, coffee etc). Some large-scale food companies are providing funding to help improve biodiversity on farms that form part of their supply chains. The value of quantifying biodiversity gain in the same way as carbon gains are quantified is that Wildlife Positive products can be produced where all the ingredients are sourced from farms where there has been a quantifiable increase in biodiversity.

Some large-scale estates where agriculture has formed a major part of their income are wanting to move to a more nature based source of funding. In these cases, they have the funds for transitioning (rather than looking for an investor that will need a return on their investment from ownership of much of the biodiversity can carbon credit sales) and want to own the carbon and biodiversity gain units so they can market them in smaller batches and get the best market price.

Companies are also looking to their own land holdings to invest in carbon and biodiversity gains (known as insetting) on these areas rather than being forced into buying carbon and biodiversity offsets at market rates. Some companies are also buying unproductive farmland to develop carbon and biodiversity gains to offset their impacts elsewhere.

rePLANET staff can provide consultancy advice in all the above cases and have been heavily involved in the development and testing of the Wallacea Trust methodology for quantifying biodiversity gain. The main approach is to help those companies or estates produce the data necessary for the Biodiversity Futures Initiative to verify claims (e.g. project A has achieved a 30% increase per hectare in biodiversity as expressed by the median value change in a basket of 5 taxa that together reflect an improvement towards the conservation objectives of the site). Once these claims have been verified they can be used for ESG reporting, or towards wildlife friendly products or monetized by issuance and sale of 80% of the biodiversity gain as biodiversity credits (the remaining 20% of the gain is always retained as a buffer against future failures).

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