Costs of conservation offset activities: The state of publicly available information in Australia

Date: 03, Oct, 2019
Author(s):   Iftekhar, M.S., Pannell, D., Hawkins, J.
Publisher: Sustainability

In various countries, offset policies allow economic developments to proceed on condition that proponents undertake agreed actions that offset the resulting losses of environmental values. Although ecological and environmental benefits are the main concern of a conservation agency when assessing an offset proposal, it is also important to be aware of the full cost of implementing the offset. However, there is currently a lack of understanding of the costs of implementing offsets, including which costs are relevant and what their magnitudes are. To address this knowledge gap, we developed a typology of costs that are relevant to offset schemes. We searched the publicly available information on costs of offset activities for thirty-four threatened species and communities in Australia to apply our cost framework. The results indicate that cost information is lacking in many cases. Information about some of the cost categories is not available for any of the species (e.g., induced costs to other areas or sectors). It is not clear whether the unreported cost categories are not considered during negotiation or whether it is just a case of lack of reporting.