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Faustian bargains? Restoration realities in the context of biodiversity offset policies

Literature: Journal Articles Available at NO COST

Maroma, M., Hobbsb, R. J., Moilanenc, A., Matthewsd, J. W., Christieb, K., Gardnerf, T.A., Keithg, D. A., Lindenmayerh, D. B., McAlpinea, C. A. 2012, "Faustian bargains? Restoration realities in the context of biodiversity offset policies", Biological Conservation, v. 155, pp. 141-148

Contact Info

Corresponding author:



  • The University of Queensland, Landscape Ecology and Conservation Group, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia
  • School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
  • Finnish Centre of Excellence in Metapopulation Biology, Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, FIN-00014 Helsinki, Finland
  • Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL 61820, USA
  • Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
  • Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, CB2 3EJ Cambridge, UK
  • New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change, PO Box 1967, Hurstville, NSW 2220, Australia
  • Fenner School of Environment and Society, ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and National Environmental Research Program, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
  • The University of Queensland, Environmental Decisions Group, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia


Biological Conservation

Selecting the link above redirects this page to the article on the journal website where the online material can be purchased or accessed if with subscription. For more information on access, see sidebar.

Also available at no cost at Laboratório de Ecologia e Restauração Florestal - ESALQ/USP.


  • This article presents an analysis of the effectiveness of forest restoration as a mechanism to offset biodiversity loss.
  • Biodiversity offsetting is defined by the article "as compensating for losses of biodiversity components at an impact site by generation (or attempting to generate) ecologically equivalent gains, or 'credits', elsewhere", considering only direct actions and not indirect ones (such as financial compensation).
  • The analysis is based on a conceptual model that encompasses three constraints of the biodiversity offsetting mechanism: (i) time lags; (ii) uncertainty; and (iii) measurability of the values being offset.
  • The authors argue that the constraints could be incorporated into offset policies that involve active adaptive management, time discounting, explicit accounting for uncertainty, and biodiversity banking.
  • However they point out that is difficult to achieve a result of no net biodiversity loss because the restoration of an ecosystem to its original state is likely unfeasible, especially considering the practical time-frames.
  • The recommendation is that restoration should be used as a means of biodiversity offsetting in the presence of definable and measurable ecosystem values and impacts on biodiversity, solid evidence of the feasibility of restoring these values, and accountability of time lags and uncertainties.
  • Finally, the authors conclude that it is urgently needed to establish links between offset policies and on-ground restoration initiatives, as well as between actors involved in the science of restoration with those in the policy-making process.

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