There has been considerable discussion in Australia about market-based initiatives with the potential to bring effective incentives and greater investment for farmers and other land managers to promote biodiversity conservation. These initiatives include biodiversity trading markets (also termed the nature repair market), stewardship schemes, certification programmes, sustainability frameworks, and natural capital accounting. We welcome these discussions and believe these initiatives would be true advances if they bring much greater investment in conservation and stronger protection and recovery of biodiversity. However, we also have major concerns about the integrity and scientific credibility of some of these initiatives. In this article, we discuss why it is critical that such initiatives both carefully define biodiversity and determine what elements of biodiversity are to be targeted in conservation efforts. We also discuss the fundamental importance of appropriate and agreed biodiversity metrics, as well as the critical need for rigorous, well designed and independent biodiversity monitoring. To ensure that initiatives like biodiversity trading markets, stewardship schemes, certification programmes, sustainability frameworks and natural capital accounting are rigorous, non-corruptible and actually deliver what they are intended to do, they will need to be underpinned by appropriate programme designs. This includes robust and transparent governance structures, high-quality monitoring and timely reporting of key metrics.
Lindenmayer, D., Scheele, B.C., Young, M. and Vardon, M. (2023), The business of biodiversity – What is needed for biodiversity markets to work. Ecol Manag Restor, 24: 3-6. https://doi.org/10.1111/emr.12573