An expert elicitation framework for more effective biodiversity offsets

Biodiversity offsets are used to compensate for the adverse effects of urban development, mining and infrastructure projects on threatened species and ecological communities, yet how best to calculate them is a challenging problem.

A CBCS team (supported by the NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub) led by CBCS Deputy Director Professor Martine Maron has risen to this challenge by co-developing a framework for formal expert elicitation to identify the most effective, transparent and cost-effective approaches to biodiversity offsets. The “Better offsets for threatened species” team worked with experts from supporting government agencies from around Australia to develop the framework, and completed expert elicitations for species such as the malleefowl, northern quoll and night parrot. Results for three species of black-cockatoo in the south-west of Western Australia are imminent, and the large group of reptiles from the Brigalow Belt in eastern Australia are next for the project.

The project is having considerable impact in government, Australia-wide. Partners have included the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment; the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions; the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning; and the New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, who are applying a streamlined version of the expert elicitation framework for the Saving our Species (SoS) Program to a number of species in New South Wales that are likely to trigger offset requirements in development projects. In Queensland, the Offset Fund Management Team in the Department of Environment and Science (DES) used the draft expert elicitation protocol to identify the best options for offsets for the eastern ground parrot.

Group photo

Photo: Back row: CBCS Deputy Director Professor Martine Maron (left), Denis Snowdon, DAWE (C’wealth); Peter Volker, FPA (Tas.); John Seidel, DPIE (NSW); Penny Croucamp, DELWP (Vic.); Russell Seaman, DEW (SA). Front row, L-R: Ian Walker, EPSDD (ACT); Alaric Fisher, DENR (NT): Jelena May, DWER (WA), Carole Rayner, DES (Qld).

Top photo: Curtis Island LNG Plant, Gladstone. Qld Greens MP CC BY-NC-ND 2_0 Flickr

Project members

Professor Martine Maron

ARC Future Fellow
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Deputy Director
Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science

Dr Jeremy Simmonds

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
School of Earth and Environmental Science

Dr Jessica Walsh

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Associate Professor Richard Fuller

Professor Richard Fuller

ARC Future Fellow
School of Biological Sciences

Professor James Watson

Senior Research Fellow
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Director
Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science

Nick Leseberg

PhD student
School of Earth and Environmental Science
Green Fire Science

Professor Jonathan Rhodes

Professor
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Dr Megan Evans

Postdoctoral Research Fellow