Biodiversity offsetting should get the chop, not ancient forests
Responding to suggestions from Environment Secretary Owen Paterson today (Saturday 4 January 2014) that developers could be allowed to destroy ancient woodland if they agree to plant many more trees elsewhere, Friends of the Earth Nature Campaigner Paul de Zylva said:
“Allowing developers to destroy ancient woodlands highlights the absurdity of the Government's biodiversity offsetting plans.
"It's the quality of forests that's important, not just the quantity of trees.
"Ministers should be protecting nature, not gambling with it by allowing Britain's best wildlife sites to be shifted around the country.
"The Government's mad cap biodiversity offsetting plans should get the chop - not our forests."
Friends of the Earth has identified many risks from biodiversity offsetting, including:
* Communities could lose cherished local nature sites with no chance to object and no say where new habitats go.
* Instead of protecting wildlife and respecting the environment, developers could use offsetting as a way of increasing the amount of inappropriate development and pay to protect and enhance habitats in other locations where land is cheaper.
* The true value of natural spaces will be undervalued as offsetting won’t account for nature’s contribution to flood mitigation and human health, or the pollination services provided by bees and other insects.
Notes to editors:
1. Owen Paterson backs ancient woodland 'offsetting' | BBC.
2. Biodiversity offsetting is a market based tool that assesses loss of biodiversity in a development scheme and requires the loss to be replaced elsewhere.
3. Friends of the Earth has submitted a response to the Government’s proposals warning that nature is too complex to simply be moved at the whim of a developer and its proposals may fail to comply with EU and International laws which are based on the principle that preventative action be taken and that environmental damage is rectified at source. The environment charity wants the Government to properly implement the new provisions for nature it introduced into the planning system last year – and which it admits are not yet working - before attempting an untested and highly risky new approach.