"Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

The Environment Secretary and MP for Oswestry, Owen (“Hill Fort? What hill fort?”) Paterson is not a man to change his mind merely because of evidence (ask the badgers and foxes!) So he’s sticking to his guns on biodiversity offsetting despite it’s efficacy being seriously challenged. He and the government had cited the success of schemes in Australia but those have now been branded “disappointing” by a leading expert over there – “I am very disappointed with the gap between the principles of biodiversity offsetting and practice. The science indicates that it is not feasible in the majority of circumstances to destroy biodiversity at site A and simply reinstate it at site B.” The Institute for European Environmental Policy suggested the same thing: “offsets more often than not provide ‘equivalent biodiversity’ that is grossly inferior to that which was destroyed.

The suspicion. of course, is that pushing offsetting is a fig leaf to help developers. Sandra Bell, nature campaigner at Friends of the Earth, says  The government should pull the plug on these madcap ‘offsetting’ plans and get on with delivering its commitments to protect and boost wildlife through better planning.”  A total of over 140 environment groups from around the world have now signed a statement condemning the policy: Offsetting will not tackle biodiversity loss, but may impoverish communities. Its introduction allows, or even encourages, environmental destruction with the promise that the habitat can be recreated elsewhere. This is beneficial to the companies doing the damage, since they can present themselves as a company that invests in environmental protection, thereby greenwashing its products and services. It only serves to permit the commodification of nature”.

Beware the jaws that bite, eh?! 😉