How to reconcile the objectives of economic development with the preservation of the environment
An international study published in the journal Conservation science and practice gives fast-growing countries a simple, low-cost guide to inform planning and decision-making to help balance economic development goals with environmental conservation and human well-being.
The study shows how simple analyzes using readily available biodiversity data can support the application of the “mitigation hierarchy”, a tool used to ensure that project developers first avoid negative impacts on biodiversity. nature, then minimize and repair any damage and, as a last resort, compensate for residual impacts on nature.
The authors show how data from sources such as Google Earth can be used to map the locations of threatened species and ecosystems, identify locations with significant biodiversity where development should be avoided, and identify degraded areas where developers could carry out environmental restoration to compensate for the impacts of a project.
“More than 100 countries now have or are creating policies that require developers to achieve better biodiversity outcomes by avoiding and minimizing impacts, and offsetting residual biodiversity impacts where necessary,” the author said. principal, Dr. Kendall Jones, conservation planning specialist at the Wildlife Conservation Society. “However, these policies are lacking in many of the most biodiverse regions of the planet, which are also where the frontiers of development are eroding natural areas at a rapid rate. The application of the mitigation hierarchy in these places is a crucial step in helping to balance environmental conservation and local livelihoods against broader economic development”.
Methods and techniques are demonstrated using a case study in Mozambique, a country that has experienced rapid economic growth over the past 30 years, resulting in environmental degradation and potentially significant impacts in the years coming. Mozambique has recently implemented national legislation requiring developers to adequately apply the hierarchy of mitigation measures, including biodiversity offsets, and the analyzes described in this study have helped inform the process of developing mitigation measures. policies.
The work was carried out under the 6-country COMBO+ program – funded by the French Development Agency and the French Global Environment Facility – which works with host governments and partners to improve policies and practices in mitigation.
Dr Hugo Costa of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Mozambique, and author of the paper, said the study provided valuable advice to rapidly developing countries that often face the combined problem of rapid development and limited data for inform the development of environmental policies.
Dr Costa said: “By showing how simple analyzes can facilitate the application of the mitigation hierarchy in countries like Mozambique, this document provides conservationists and governments with the tools to ensure that the pursuit of economic development goals does not come at the expense of our ability to meet national and international biodiversity targets.
Dr. Costa also pointed out that the hierarchy of mitigation measures is useful in ensuring that project development takes into account the well-being of local populations.
“It’s not just about biodiversity. Rigorously applying the mitigation hierarchy also allows us to safeguard community well-being and ensure that developers design measures that include local communities as part of the solution and improve livelihoods and the well-being of people,” Costa added. .