VyraNews #4: How to Enhance Biodiversity Without Causing Brand Damage

Dear Reader,

Nature-based biodiversity offsets/credits can be a dangerous move for your organisation.

What are biodiversity offsets/credits?

Like carbon offsets, biodiversity offsets are defined as conservation activities intended to compensate for the lasting impacts of development on species and ecosystems that persist even after other mitigation measures.

Closely related to the concept of biodiversity net gain is what is known as “nature positive”, which many liken to a “net-zero” target for nature.

“Nature positive” is a much broader process incorporating aspects of nature beyond biodiversity gain, such as climate mitigation.

Policy experts fear that biodiversity offsets are primed to repeat the mistakes of 30 years of experiments with carbon markets.

Which have seen problems with environmental integrity, additionality, permanence, leakage and transparency.

Let’s Ask Ourselves, Why Are Offsets and Credits Dangerous?

We must question the concept of putting a unit economic value on nature.

Here are three reasons why:

  1. Not all carbon is equal. The carbon emissions embedded into your organisation’s operations or supply chain can never be considered equivocal in value to the offset or credit project. For example, the transport carbon emissions of a small bakery cannot be equated to an exact number of trees planted in a wood at an exact point in time because the trees sequester carbon very slowly and at different rates. Now you see how this bakery’s claim of ‘net-zero’ transport emissions based on the expected impact of that woodland in 15-20 years’ time is not credible.

  2. Net Zero Inaccuracy. Once you have made claims around how these projects have brought you to ‘net-zero’ you will eventually be discovered by the rigour and auditing applied to sustainability disclosure in new regulation.

  3. Biodiversity Net Gain. New policies for nature in the UK and EU seeking to metricise ‘Biodiversity Net Gain’ will require more than simply offsetting or purchasing credits. (learn more about the metric here)

Biodiversity offsets are deployed as the last stage of the “mitigation hierarchy” – a set of five steps (click to view pdf).

UN Environment Programme and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre

The 5 Steps

  1. To avoid negative impacts where possible.

  2. To minimise impacts, if necessary.

  3. To restore and rehabilitate the environment.

  4. Only then, to offset unavoidable and necessary harms through compensatory conservation actions.

  5. To accrue benefits to the environment over time.

Vyra’s 3-Step Guide to Enhancing Biodiversity

1. Assess what aspects of your organisation and industry are high-biodiversity risk using the simple-to-use and free Encore Tool (here)

2. Based on your findings, have a 1-hour brainstorm with members of your ESG/Sustainability Committee or Team and identify 3 to 5 projects at your organisation that would enhance biodiversity directly or indirectly.

3. Seek out and invest in a pure-play biodiversity restoration project for your organisation. By this, we mean non-carbon offset/biodiversity credit scheme projects whose sole purpose is to restore biodiversity.

What’s next with Vyra?

Webinar coming on Tuesday next week at 12:00 pm GMT (learn more/register here)

We have included an exclusive incentive for all of our newsletter subscribers where you can get your organisation involved in the largest re-wilding project in Ireland through Vyra. This is open to organisations in the UK and EU. The planting season has just begun; contact the smiling head [email protected] to learn more.