, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 184–189 | Cite as

Achieving biodiversity benefits with offsets: Research gaps, challenges, and needs

  • Stefan GelcichEmail author
  • Camila Vargas
  • Maria Jose Carreras
  • Juan Carlos Castilla
  • C. Josh DonlanEmail author


Biodiversity offsets are becoming increasingly common across a portfolio of settings: national policy, voluntary programs, international lending, and corporate business structures. Given the diversity of ecological, political, and socio-economic systems where offsets may be applied, place-based information is likely to be most useful in designing and implementing offset programs, along with guiding principles that assure best practice. We reviewed the research on biodiversity offsets to explore gaps and needs. While the peer-reviewed literature on offsets is growing rapidly, it is heavily dominated by ecological theory, wetland ecosystems, and U.S.-based research. Given that majority of offset policies and programs are occurring in middle- and low-income countries, the research gaps we identified present a number of risks. They also present an opportunity to create regionally based learning platforms focused on pilot projects and institutional capacity building. Scientific research should diversify, both topically and geographically, in order to support the successful design, implementation, and monitoring of biodiversity offset programs.


Conservation Design Mitigation Offsets 



We thank Financiamiento Basal FB-0002, nucleo-milenio initiative P10-033 and NC-120086 from the Ministerio de Economia, Fondecyt 1160145, The Walton Family Foundation and The Pew Marine Conservation Fellowship Program. We thank Veronica Ortiz and for support with the figures. We thank three anonymous reviewers that improved an earlier version of this paper.

Supplementary material

13280_2016_810_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (253 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 254 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Applied Ecology and Sustainability (CAPES) and Centro de Conservacion Marina Departamento de EcologiaPontificia Universidad Catolica de ChileSantiagoChile
  2. 2.Advanced Conservation StrategiesCordobaSpain
  3. 3.Bren School of Environmental Science and ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  4. 4.Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  5. 5.Department of Ecology & Evolutionary BiologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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