An international study published in the journal Conservation Science and Practice provides fast-growing nations with a simple, cost-effective guide to informed planning and decision-making to balance economic development goals with environmental protection and human well-being.
The study shows how simple analytics with readily available biodiversity data can support the application of the “mitigation hierarchy”, a tool designed to ensure project developers first avoid negative impacts on nature, then minimize and restore damage and, as a last resort, compensate for residual effects 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 sites of important biodiversity where development should be avoided, and identify degraded areas where developers can implement environmental remediation could carry out a project to compensate for the impact.
“Over 100 countries now either have or are creating policies that require developers to achieve better biodiversity outcomes by avoiding and minimizing impacts and compensating for residual biodiversity impacts where appropriate,” said lead author Dr. Kendall Jones, Conservation Planning Specialist at Wildlife Conservation Society. “However, these guidelines are lacking in many of the most biodiverse regions on earth, which are also the places where development frontiers are eroding natural areas at a rapid pace. Applying the mitigation hierarchy to these locations is a critical step in helping to balance environmental conservation and local livelihoods against broader economic development.”
The methods and techniques are demonstrated using a case study in Mozambique, a nation that has experienced rapid economic growth over the past 30 years, resulting in environmental degradation and potentially significant impacts in the years to come. Mozambique recently introduced national laws that require developers to appropriately apply the mitigation hierarchy, including biodiversity balancing, and the analyzes outlined in this study have helped inform the policy development process.
dr Hugo Costa of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Mozambique, and an author of the paper, said the study provides valuable guidance for rapidly developing countries, which often face the combined problem of rapid development and limited data to inform environmental policy development .
dr Costa says: “By showing how simple analysis can facilitate the application of the mitigation hierarchy in countries like Mozambique, this paper provides conservationists and governments with the tools to ensure that the pursuit of economic development goals is not at the expense of our ability to meet national and international biodiversity goals correspond.”
dr Costa also stressed that the mitigation hierarchy is useful to ensure project development takes into account the well-being of local people.
“This is not just about biodiversity. Consistently applying the mitigation hierarchy also allows us to protect the well-being of communities and ensure that developers develop interventions that engage local communities as part of the solution, improving people’s livelihoods and well-being,” Costa adds.
Conservation goals can be hampered by a lack of land to compensate for biodiversity
Kendall R. Jones et al, Spatial analysis to inform the mitigation hierarchy, Conservation Science and Practice (2022). DOI: 10.1111/csp2.12686
Provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society
Citation: Study shows how to reconcile economic development goals with environmental protection using freely available data (2022, April 28), retrieved on April 28, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-04-economic-goals -environmental-freely.html
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