Biodiversity offset policy and governance

Biodiversity offsetting is used as a policy tool around the world to compensate for the negative impacts on species and ecosystems that may occur as a result of human development (e.g mining, infrastructure, housing etc). 

The logic of an offset is that it sometimes cheaper to restore or protect biodiversity elsewhere, than to completely forego the economic benefits of development at the impact site. The same thinking underpins carbon offsetting, whereby greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities are compensated by sequestering carbon via other means, e.g via carbon farming.


There are many aspects of biodiversity offsetting that warrant research – including the design of metrics to determine how much and what type of biodiversity ought to be restored or protected to compensate for a loss (technical requirements), as well as many ethical and social concerns. 

I have been involved in offset policy development since 2011. Most recently, I worked with the National Environmental Science Program – Threatened Species Recovery Hub (NESP TSR) on the Better offsets for threatened species project. 

I now focus my attention towards the governance of biodiversity offsetting, especially the contracting arrangements between offset buyers and sellers (i.e conditions of approval via environmental impact assessment processes).

Malleefowl may benefit from better biodiversity offsets. Image: Donald Hobern_CC2.0_flickr

Blogs and other articles

  • Overestimating rate of biodiversity loss can have unexpected consequences. UNSW Canberra
  • Lindenmayer D., Maron M., Evans M.C., Gibbons P. 2017. The plan to protect wildlife displaced by the Hume Highway has failed. The Conversation.
  • Evans MC and Maron M. 2013. Can we offset biodiversity losses? The Conversation

Selected papers

Please email me for a copy of any PDFs

  1. Maseyk, F., Maron, M., Gordon, A., Bull, J., Evans, M.C., 2020. Improving averted loss estimates for better biodiversity outcomes from offset exchanges. Oryx.
  2. Maron M., Brownlie S., Bull, J.W., Evans M.C., von Hase A., Quétier, F., Watson, J.E.M., Gordon, A. 2018. The many meanings of No Net Loss in environmental policy. Nature Sustainability 1: 19-27.
  3. Lindenmayer, D.B., Crane, M., Evans, M.C., Maron, M., Gibbons, P., Bekessy, S., Blanchard, W., 2017. The anatomy of a failed offset. Biological Conservation 210(Part A): 286–292. 
  4. Maron M., Ives C.D., Kujula H., Bull J.W., Maseyk F., Bekessy S., Gordon A., Watson J.E.M., Lentini P., Gibbons P., Possingham H.P., Hobbs R.J., Keith D.A., Wintle B.A., Evans M.C. 2016. Taming a wicked problem: resolving controversies in biodiversity offsetting. BioScience 66: 489–498. PDF
  5. Gibbons P., Evans M.C., Maron M., Gordon A., Le Roux, D., von Hase, A., Lindenmayer, D.B. and Possingham, H.P. 2016. A loss-gain calculator for biodiversity offsets and the circumstances in which no net loss is feasible. Conservation Letters 9: 252-259
  6. Maron, M., Bull, J.W., Evans, M.C., Gordon, A., 2015. Locking in loss: baselines of decline in Australian biodiversity offset policies. Biological Conservation 192: 504-512.
  7. Miller K., Dripps K., Trezise J., Kraus S., Evans M.C., Gibbons P., Possingham H.P., Maron M. 2015.
    The Development of the Australian Environmental Offsets Policy: from Theory to Practice. Environmental Conservation 42: 306-314.

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