Biodiversity Offsets are one of the strategic approaches for natural resources conservation especially for business and development activities that have adverse impacts on the biodiversity health of the socioecological landscapes (SEPLs). Biodiversity offsets follow stringent mitigation hierarchy which includes efforts at avoidance, minimisation and restoration of impacted biodiversity sites and are only undertaken as compensation measures at different sites when residual biodiversity impacts still persist at the original sites of impact. The main goal of biodiversity offsets is achieve no net loss and preferably a net gain of biodiversity on the ground with respect to species composition, habitat structure, ecosystem function and people’s use and sociocultural values associated with biodiversity.

Biodiversity offsets are designed to comply with all relevant national and international laws; and also planned and implemented in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its ecosystem approach, as articulated in National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs). The implementation of the biodiversity offset are always guided by detailed biological and socioeconomic studies to generate relevant baseline information in designating a robust offset strategy that enhances socioecological health and economic improvement of the offset project/program landscapes.

Since 2014, Conservation Alliance (CA) has been at the forefront of promotion of biodiversity offsets as conservation and socioeconomic development tools for businesses and policy options. This ensures that businesses and developers account for the residual impacts of their activities on biodiversity in a responsible, transparent, and sustainable manner. Thus, CA has collaborated with a number of stakeholder groups including public institutions (e.g., the EPA, Forestry Commission, and the district assemblies), the private sector, the academia, traditional authorities, communities and the media to promote, educate, research, pilot-test and implement elements of biodiversity offsets in Ghana.

Between 2016 and 2020, CA as the Chair of National Biodiversity Offset Committee has collaborated with the EPA and other organizations/institutions to develop the National Biodiversity Offset and Business Scheme (BOBS), including its Framework and Guidelines – to provide strategic direction and support for successful implementation of biodiversity offsets in Ghana. The BOBS have been pilot-tested in a number of areas in Ghana including the Bui Power Authority landscape and the Songor Biosphere Reserve. The pilot team, led by CA was made up of EPA, University of Ghana, the J.A Kuffour Foundation and Advocacy for Biodiversity Offsetting, Ghana.

Additionally, since 2020, CA has conducted socioeconomic baseline studies to support Newmont Gold Ghana Limited’s biodiversity offset program at the Atewa Range Forest Reserve landscape. The studies generated information that unearthed the socio-economic status of the landscape and also helped the study team to develop a stakeholder map, determine livelihood options to be considered for support, propose an artisanal surface mining (ASM) management strategy, determine the most feasible ecotourism attraction option and design a suitable governance structure for the landscape.

For more information on business and biodiversity offsets, contact Conservation Alliance at [email protected]