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Three New Standards Aim to Promote Biodiversity Conservation

Biodiversity is notoriously difficult to measure, which makes it difficult to conserve.  Three complementary standards aim to change that by providing guidance for practices from offsetting to sustainable land use to managing protected areas and their surroundings.  Here is a quick overview of the new standards and their goals

30 January 2012 | Biodiversity is notoriously difficult to measure, which makes it difficult to conserve.   Three complementary standards aim to change that by providing guidance for practices from offsetting to sustainable land use to managing protected areas and their surroundings.

Of these, only one – the Standard on Biodiversity Offsets (SBO) – focuses on offsets.   The other two – the Global Conservation Standard and the Biodiversity Area Management Standard – focus on best practices for commercial land use and the management of protected areas.   In a sense, these echo the efforts of the Standards for Project Management (SPM) being developed by the Conservation Measures Partnership.

All three of the new standards – as well as the SPM) – are works in progress, and we’ll be covering each in more detail over the coming weeks.   For now, here’s a brief overview of the three newcomers.

The Standard on Biodiversity Offsets

The SBO has been under development since 2009 and grows out of the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP), a project affiliated with Forest Trends (publisher of Ecosystem Marketplace) and aimed at promoting best practices for biodiversity offsets in developing countries.   It aims to deliver globally-recognized offsetting practices for companies that incur unavoidable damage in the developing world.

The Global Conservation Standard

The GCS describes criteria for earning Conservation Credit Units (CCUs), which reward specific activities that enhance ecosystem services either in a recognized   conservation area or on land that flows into one.   The CCUs are not offsets, but rather a means of greening a company’s supply chain.   The only methodology released to date relates to above-ground carbon stocks, but other methodologies for soil carbon, water, biodiversity, and pollutants are in the works.

The Biodiversity Area Management Standard

The BAMS, like the GCS, aims to create a unit that companies can measure biodiversity performance with, and focuses on best practices as they are recognized under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).   It issues credits for areas managed rather than for units of ecosystem service generated.

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