Can offsets really compensate for habitat removal? The case of the endangered red-tailed black-cockatoo

Maron, Martine and Dunn, Peter K. and McAlpine, Clive A. and Apan, Armando (2010) Can offsets really compensate for habitat removal? The case of the endangered red-tailed black-cockatoo. Journal of Applied Ecology, 47 (2). pp. 348-355. ISSN 0021-8901


1. Habitat offsets are increasingly used in attempts to avoid the impacts of permitted habitat removal on biodiversity, but their ability to achieve a genuine compensatory effect is a matter of debate. Approaches to offsetting typically aim to achieve ‘no net loss’ of habitat over time, yet few evaluations exist of whether this outcome is feasible.

2. We investigated the potential of offsets to mitigate the impacts of habitat removal in the long term using a case study of future scenarios of habitat availability for an endangered bird, the south-eastern red-tailed black cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne. Important food resources for this species include scattered large buloke Allocasuarina luehmannii trees which are under threat of removal for agricultural intensification. We projected availability of large buloke trees over a 150-year period, initially using recent rates of decline to inform a ‘business as usual’ scenario, then examining alternative scenarios reflecting different offset strategies.

3. All scenarios suggested that numbers of large trees will continue to decline for at least 100 years. Because of time lags in resource maturation, offsets were unable to achieve no net loss in the medium-term, and the most plausible offset scenarios were inadequate to compensate for habitat loss at year-100, when resource availability was lowest.

4. To minimize the temporal extent and severity of this future resource bottleneck, offsets must include both replanting and protection of other large, at-risk trees, with a high ratio of protected trees to trees cleared.

5. Synthesis and applications. The success of habitat offsets in cases where there is a significant lag between habitat loss and replacement of resources for a threatened species is likely to be low, because resource bottlenecks become a significant threat to the persistence of the species. In order to identify habitat protection options that will genuinely offset habitat removal, it is essential to estimate explicitly the ‘avoided loss’ of habitat attributable to its protection.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Surveying and Land Information
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2011 12:02
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2013 00:32
Uncontrolled Keywords: biodiversity offsets; buloke; future scenarios; habitat loss; red-tailed black cockatoo; resource modelling; scattered trees
Fields of Research : 12 Built Environment and Design > 1205 Urban and Regional Planning > 120504 Land Use and Environmental Planning
06 Biological Sciences > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology(excl. Invasive Species Ecology)
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01787.x

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