Biodiversity economics research programme awarded £1m

‘Additionality’ is a key goal of biodiversity policy stating that any intervention must provide additional biodiversity to what otherwise would have happened

A research project that will help the UK meet its biodiversity commitments and improve understanding of the effectiveness of biodiversity policies has been awarded a £1 million grant from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The Economics of Biodiversity Additionality (BIOADD) project will focus on ‘additionality’, a key goal of biodiversity policy stating that any intervention, be it a protected area, a performance-related payment or a biodiversity law, must provide additional biodiversity to what otherwise would have happened, and avoid pushing harmful activities elsewhere.

BIOADD will seek to develop the ‘economics of biodiversity’, deepening understanding of the complex interplay of biodiversity policies, land use change and the underlying economic drivers within the economies in which they operate.

Focusing on the tropical forests of the Amazon region and Indonesia, the researchers will identify the economic and policy drivers of biodiversity additionality via forest regrowth and decline, and develop methods for target compatible biodiversity pricing.

Such prices will allow the impacts and trade-offs required to meet agreed biodiversity targets – such as the initiative for governments to designate 30% of Earth’s land and ocean area as protected areas by 2030 – in a cost-effective way, accounting for the risks of non-additionality.

The University of Exeter’s Professor Ben Groom, Dragon Capital Chair in Biodiversity Economics, and Postdoctoral Research Associate and Co-Investigator Dr Ben Balmford will work with researchers from LSE, CarbonPlan and SDSN Bolivia to develop the economics of biodiversity additionality.

Their findings will provide governments, central banks and financial institutions with guidance, evidence and tools for effective decision-making about biodiversity interventions.

BIOADD will also result in an online tool – developed together with CarbonPlan – that will allow different nature-based solutions to climate change to be valued and compared according to their impacts on biodiversity, the offset carbon emissions and various risks to additionality, such as the intervention failing or not lasting.

Professor Groom said: “To understand the effectiveness of biodiversity policies requires an understanding of the economics of biodiversity additionality.

“BIOADD will develop the economics of biodiversity additionality from key perspectives, and will help the UK address its commitments to biodiversity, such as the domestic commitment to biodiversity net gain in the Environment Act 2021, the 30 by 30 target from COP15 and the UK’s COP26 commitments on zero-deforestation by 2030.”

The project will develop important ties with country partners and tool-building partners as well as provide a career platform for two post-doctoral students.

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