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Biodiversity Credits

Biodiversity credits are an emerging mechanism to quantify and track biodiversity conservation and preservation efforts and outcomes. They are separate and distinct from carbon credits or carbon units.  There is no universal agreement as to what a biodiversity credit represents. The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) describes a credit as a unit of biodiversity that is being restored or preserved

Whatever the precise definition, voluntary biodiversity credit markets are increasingly recognised as one mechanism that can drive financing toward the protection, regeneration and stewardship of biodiversity, and close the biodiversity financing gap. For example, Target 19 of the UN’s 2022 Montreal-Kunming Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) refers to biodiversity credits as a potential mechanism for mobilising financial resources globally.


Credits vs Offsets

There is an important distinction between biodiversity credits and biodiversity offsets. Offsets describe the circumstances by which negative impacts on biodiversity in one location can be compensated for by purchasing biodiversity ‘units’, which are intended to represent an equivalent or an augmented positive impact on biodiversity in another location. 

In contrast, biodiversity credit projects are intended to finance real gains for biodiversity that are not linked to negative impacts elsewhere. Such credits, for corporate buyers, represent efforts “beyond the value chain”.

Credit Market Types

There are three emerging directions for the biodiversity credit markets to develop: Indigenous-led initiatives under voluntary standards, private sector-led initiatives under voluntary standards and government-led initiatives under specific policy or legislation, or potential combinations thereof.

Our focus is on uplifting initiatives designed to finance real gains in biodiversity conservation and financing. For this reason, our map excludes compliance-based offsets programs. It also excludes carbon credit schemes with “co-benefits” (otherwise known as “charismatic carbon”) or carbon credit schemes that “staple” or attach a carbon credit or carbon unit to a biodiversity credit or unit.

Sources & Updates

The key sources of information for these maps have come from Pollination and Bloom Labs

The maps are designed to be updated over time, so if you have anything to add or amend, please contact us using the button below. 

In the future, we hope to add projects as well as schemes to demonstrate the increase in market activity.

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    Photo credits: Banner – Dylan Shaw, Unsplash; Emus – Germane Jaws, Unsplash; Coastline – Jake Allison, Unsplash; Desert Oak – Simon Bradfield, iStock; Fishing – Jack Castles, Unsplash.