BEYOND MULTIPLIERS: MANAGING THE RISKS OF OFFSETTING
May 3, 2021 (Monday) - 10 to 11:30 MDT
Session leader: Joseph Bull, University of Kent
The success and timeliness of offset measures is often far from certain. How can we adjust the process to compensate for risks and known inadequacies?
Biodiversity offsetting is frequently risky. Data on both development impacts and offset effectiveness is frequently less than ideal, baseline conditions may be uncertain and variable, offset measures may not be effective, differences between impact and offset sites and characteristics, and time lags may bring temporary or irremediable environmental losses.
A frequent tool to compensate for these risks is the use of offset multiplier ratios, whereby the offset outcome is planned to be larger than the development impact by a factor reflecting accumulated risk. The usefulness and assessment of multiplier ratios is a much-debated area, with positions ranging from advocacy for a complex mathematical approach customized to particular circumstances to simple set ratios that avoid contention and complication.
This session will explore this debate and wrestle with how multiplier ratios should be used and what other means are available to manage the risks of offsetting.
- Marcus Eyre, Independent Consultant
- Karen Stefanyk, British Columbia Ministry of Environment
- Amrei von Hase, Biodiversity Specialist and Offset Practitioner
- Naomi Nichol, BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Session Leader: Joseph Bull
Joseph Bull is an ecologist, conservation scientist and practitioner: currently Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at the University of Kent, Visiting Researcher at the University of Oxford, and co-founder of Wild Business Ltd.
He has a BSc in Physics, an MSc in Environmental Technology, and a PhD in Ecology from Imperial College London. During his PhD, he worked closely with the Academy of Sciences (Uzbekistan) and RMIT (Australia); afterwards, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark).
Additional personal highlights of Joseph's work to date include tropical field ecology expeditions (Peru, Malaysia), and leading a team for Engineers without Borders (Nepal).
In both his research activities and consultancy practice, Joseph employs field ecology, coding, remote sensing, integration and statistical analysis of large datasets, and counterfactual impact evaluation.
Connecting all of the above is an interest in finding practical yet technically robust approaches towards better understanding and conserving nature.
Presenter: Marcus Eyre
Marcus Eyre has been involved in the practical application of offsets for the last ten years. As a former senior environmental advisor to the Canada Energy Regulator (CER; ex- National Energy Board) he was technical lead in the development and ongoing oversight of offset requirements imposed as conditions of approval on projects in caribou ranges in western Canada. He notes his many learnings over the years:
“I’ve become more interested in issues around: how project proponents respond to offset requirements; the incentives (or disincentives) multipliers provide and the implications for their design; and the importance of effective regulatory oversight. I’ve had to adjust many of my assumptions…”
Marcus has an undergraduate degree in Zoology and Master’s in Environmental Management. He is based in Calgary, AB, Canada.
Presenter: Karen Stefanyk
Karen is a registered professional biologist (R.P.Bio.) with over 17 years of experience in the environmental field with formal training in conservation biology through the University of Alberta. She has worked as a consultant for 10 of those years with her main focus on wetland, wildlife and vegetation ecology as part of environmental impact assessments and developing mitigation and monitoring plans. Karen has now taken her field experience of working with different sectors across western Canada and applied her learnings to her current work the province of British Columbia (B.C.). She is fortunate to work and live on the traditional territory of the Lək̓ʷəŋən peoples in Victoria, B.C., Canada. Karen is a Senior Conservation Policy Analyst working with B.C.’s Environmental Mitigation Policy (EMP). In her role she provides expertise to provincial staff and industry and works across sectors to improve the implementation of the EMP. Karen will be speaking on British Columbia’s experience with implementing the EMP, both opportunities and challenges.
Presenter: Amrei von Hase
Amrei is an ecologist working on biodiversity conservation, risk and impact assessment and application of the mitigation hierarchy including biodiversity offsets/ ecological compensation. She has a PhD from the University of Cape Town.Between 2009 and 2019 Amrei was Science Lead for the international multi-stakeholder Business and Biodiversity Offset Programme (BBOP), hosted by Forest Trends. She led the scientific development of BBOP’s widely regarded work on best practice in the mitigation hierarchy and achieving no net loss (NNL) of biodiversity or a net gain (NG). To ground this in practical experiences, she has worked closely with private and public sector development projects (e.g. infrastructure, mining), and with lenders and policy makers across the world. Amrei continues offering independent specialist advice to clients including companies planning and implementing development projects in line with international standards and governments developing sound biodiversity and mitigation policies.
Presenter: Naomi Nichol
Naomi Nichol is a wildlife ecologist by training, and has a Master’s Degree in Wildlife Management. She has worked on mitigation policy and implementation in both California and British Columbia and spent three years with the BC Government developing an Offset Decision-Support Tool. Her interest is to facilitate conversations around offsets by using a scientific foundation to build an awareness of the ecological impacts of projects and to understand the financial and ecological risks involved in various mitigation approaches. Naomi is a Registered Professional Biologist in BC and continues to work towards better wildlife habitat management in the province, including reducing impacts to habitat through mitigation.