On track to achieve No Net Loss of forest at Madagascar’s biggest mine

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Devenish, K., Desbureaux, S., Willcock, S. and Jones, J. P. G. 2022. On track to achieve No Net Loss of forest at Madagascar’s biggest mine. Nature Sustainability. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-022-00850-7

AuthorsDevenish, K., Desbureaux, S., Willcock, S. and Jones, J. P. G.

Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals requires reconciling development with biodiversity conservation. Governments and lenders increasingly call for major industrial developments to offset unavoidable biodiversity loss, but there are few robust evaluations of whether offset interventions ensure No Net Loss (NNL) of biodiversity. We focus on the biodiversity offsets associated with the high-profile Ambatovy mine in Madagascar and evaluate their effectiveness at delivering NNL of forest. As part of their efforts to mitigate biodiversity loss, Ambatovy compensate for forest clearance at the mine site by slowing deforestation driven by small-scale agriculture elsewhere. Using a range of methods, including extensive robustness checks exploring 116 alternative model specifications, we show that the offsets are on track to avert as much deforestation as was caused by the mine. This encouraging result shows that biodiversity offsetting can contribute towards mitigating environmental damage from a major industrial development, even within a weak state, but there remain important caveats with broad application. Our approach could serve as a template to facilitate other evaluations and so build a stronger evidence-base of the effectiveness of No Net Loss interventions.

KeywordsMitigation hierarchy; Environmental impact assessment; Net gain; Net posotive impact; Forest conservation; Biodiversity offset; Impact evaluation; Counterfactual; Statistical matching
Year of Publication2022
JournalNature Sustainability
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-022-00850-7
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderNatural Environment Research Council
Funder project or codeEnvision DTP
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online20 Mar 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted13 Jan 2022
PublisherSpringer Nature

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Under embargo until 14 Jul 2022

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Under embargo until 14 Jul 2022

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