The answer is yes, but it won’t be as simple as directly applying terrestrial approaches in the ocean…
A new report prepared by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) explores the feasibility of achieving no net loss (NNL) of biodiversity in the ocean. This review suggests that many of the challenges in achieving NNL on land are also very similar in the ocean (e.g., setting appropriate baselines, setting and monitoring appropriate biodiversity metrics).
There are also additional challenges in achieving NNL of marine biodiversity as marine systems are considered more connected and dynamic, and substantial scientific knowledge gaps exist due to a lack of research and monitoring data for many marine ecosystems. This will make it even more challenging to set baselines for some marine ecosystems, and develop effective restoration programs.
A key recommendation from UNEP-WCMC is that there is a strong business case for avoiding negative impacts on marine biodiversity (i.e., emphasising the earliest stage of the mitigation hierarchy in marine development projects more so than what is currently done on land). Therefore NNL of marine biodiversity should not just be about offsets (i.e., the final stage of the mitigation hierarchy). More of UNEP-WCMC’s recommendations can be found on their website.
This report is very timely given two upcoming symposia on marine NNL. Stay tuned to twitter over the next few weeks for updates from these events:
“The future for no-net-loss of biodiversity in the marine environment” at the Interdisciplinary Conservation Network workshop in Oxford, 26 – 28 June 2016. Follow live updates on twitter using #ICN16.
“Confronting threats to marine ecosystems through the use of biodiversity offsets” at the Society for Conservation Biology Oceania conference in Brisbane, 5 – 9 July. Follow live updates on twitter using #SCBO2016.
This blog was written by Prue Addison, William Arlidge and Nicole Shumway.