Strengthening the mitigation hierarchy for greater conservation gains

The mitigation hierarchy is a widely advocated process of identifying, avoiding, minimizing and mitigating biodiversity impacts of development projects and is fast becoming best practice – promoted by banks such as the International Finance Corporation, companies such as Rio Tinto and cross-sector collaborative groups such as the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme. However, there is insufficient guidance on its appropriate use and there has been a tendency, in general, for the ‘avoidance’ and ‘minimisation’ steps to be overlooked and for greater emphasis to be placed on compensating or offsetting biodiversity impacts. Given the challenges associated with site restoration and the contentious nature of biodiversity offsetting, this trend represents both a material risk to businesses as well as a significant risk to biodiversity itself. ‘Biodiversity risk’ (i.e. the risk posed to businesses by the destruction/loss of biodiversity), although long recognised in certain industrial sectors (such as mining), is rapidly gaining traction in the wider corporate world, particularly the banking and finance sector. This project will aim to respond to and utilise this trend to identify and promote best practice examples for implementing the mitigation hierarchy, with a particular focus on avoidance and minimization. The outputs of this project will be used to highlight the critical importance and business value of avoiding and minimizing biodiversity impacts and to encourage companies to integrate these recommendations into their operations. The goals of the project include improving long-term biodiversity safeguards (in the form of a strengthened mitigation hierarchy developed through consensus), as well as to achieve measurable and additional conservation gains at the project level.

CCI partners Involved

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment. It is the largest wildlife conservation organisation in...
The UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is the specialist biodiversity assessment arm of the United Nations Environment Programme, the world’s foremost intergovernmental...
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) acts to conserve threatened species and ecosystems worldwide, delivering global and regional programmes of conservation and community projects.
BirdLife International is a strategic global partnership of conservation organisations in over 100 countries, working to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, and to promote...
The Department of Geography's research clusters focus on society and environment, development and political ecology, culture and demography, environmental processes, landscape modelling and climate...

Related Resources

Resource Title Description Type
Avoiding impacts on biodiversity through strengthening the first stage of the mitigation hierarchy The mitigation hierarchy is a decision-making framework designed to address impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services through first seeking to avoid impacts wherever possible, then minimizing or... Journal articles
Conference paper: Promoting avoidance for conservation gains Biodiversity loss is occurring at an unprecedented rate, largely due to economic motivations for development. Current actions are failing to meet their targets, and new mechanisms are needed to avoid... Talks and presentations