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Malagasy President interested in biodiversity offsets

…he is looking for practical sustainable development solutions

The President of the Republic of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana, recently invited members of the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP) to the Presidential Palace to discuss biodiversity offsets.

Biodiversity offsets are conservation measures meant to compensate for the residual and unavoidable harm to biodiversity caused by development. For example if an environmentally responsible company needs to build a pipeline or a mine, even with state-of-the-art design and mitigation, completing that project will diminish biodiversity in the affected area. The concept of an offset is to create conservation projects somewhere else in the country that will bring that loss back up to zero or to create a net gain of biodiversity. President Ravolomanana described the challenge of reconciling development with biodiversity conservation in Madagascar, and expressed his interest in biodiversity offsets as a tool for doing so.The President discussed the potential of biodiversity offsets in Madagascar with representatives from the BBOP including BirdLife's Dr Jon Ekstrom, a member of BBOP's Advisory Committee. "After our presentations on biodiversity offsets at the CI symposium in Antananarivo, we were invited to visit the president and explain our work to himself directly. President Ravalomanana appeared very interested in what we had to say and invited us to run a workshop in Madagascar later this year." said Dr Jon Ekstrom of BirdLife

The President explained that, as a businessman, he is looking for real action and practical sustainable development solutions, so he was enthusiastic about BBOP's approach of undertaking pilot biodiversity offset projects with companies.

After discussing mining projects in Madagascar, the President encouraged BBOP to collaborate with the government of Madagascar on a national workshop on biodiversity offsets with companies, government departments and conservation experts. He recommended that that regional as well as national government should be involved, as well as mining, agriculture and forestry companies, and other industry sectors whose management of land has a bearing on Madagascar's biodiversity. He outlined poverty and people's felling of trees as key threats to biodiversity conservation in Africa, stressing the importance of working with local communities.

4th July 2014