Balancing development and biodiversity conservation in a changing climate
Development is vital to the economic and social wellbeing of many Caribbean nations. Healthy coral reefs are an important foundations for development, but human activities can also put pressure on coral reefs, threatening biodiversity and the sustainability of ecosystem goods and services. Achieving a balance between development and biodiversity conservation is crucial to the future of Caribbean communities, especially under a changing climate, as pressures on both social and ecological systems intensify.
How marine biodiversity offsets can help
Biodiversity offsets are emerging as a useful tool in environmental impact assessment and mitigation that allow for development to occur while minimising the risks to important elements of biodiversity and the overall health of ecosystems.
Biodiversity offsets are only used once other actions have been done to avoid, reduce and manage the impacts of development. Offsets are often used in land-based settings to promote conservation of endangered species and fragile habitats but there is not yet a framework for offsetting development impacts on marine and coastal biodiversity.
A marine biodiversity offsets framework for Belize
The Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority/Institute and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority worked with regional policy makers, resource users and international experts in biodiversity offsetting to review international best practices and review their relevance to marine ecosystems. The project brought together experts from Australia, Belize, the IUCN World Conservation and the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP) to develop a framework document to assist in the development of policy and process for applying biodiversity offsets in Belize. The Marine and Coastal Biodiversity Offsets framework for Belize is one of the first efforts to apply recent advances in offsetting theory and practice to a marine and coastal context.