13. KBAs as targets for offsetting impacts elsewhere
Selecting KBAs as recipients of offsets to compensate residual impacts in non-KBA sites could possibly lead to investing in an area with an opportunity for greater conservation impact than the one affected by the project for which the offset is envisaged. This would open an opportunity for the business to invest in offsets that would achieve better conservation outcomes, effectively ‘trading up’ the net outcomes. However, such ‘trading up’ should not cross national boundaries where doing so is legally, politically, or socially unacceptable.
How can the World Database of Key Biodiversity AreasTM help? The World Database of Key Biodiversity AreasTM can provide information on potential offset locations in KBAs that provide a similar or even more significant contribution to the global persistence of biodiversity elements than the area that is impacted by a given development (not occurring in a KBA).
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The use of an offset that conserves elements of biodiversity that are of higher conservation priority (for example because they are more irreplaceable and vulnerable) than those affected by the development project for which the offset is envisaged is known as ‘trading up’.
A key benefit of trading up is the potential use of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) as offset locations for projects that are impacting biodiversity values outside a KBA. The strategy of using KBAs as targeted offset sites would help to consolidate and focus conservation resources in areas that have been identified as globally important for long-term biodiversity persistence. In certain circumstances, the company and its key stakeholders may need to work together to remove potential barriers to trading up, such as restrictive government policy on like-for-like offsetting.