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Great Apes and Biodiversity Offset Projects in Africa: The Case for National Offset Strategies

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The development and private sectors are increasingly considering ‘‘biodiversity offsets’’ as a strategy to compensate for
their negative impacts on biodiversity, including impacts on great apes and their habitats in Africa. In the absence of
national offset policies in sub-Saharan Africa, offset design and implementation are guided by company internal standards,
lending bank standards or international best practice principles. We examine four projects in Africa that are seeking to
compensate for their negative impacts on great ape populations. Our assessment of these projects reveals that not all apply
or implement best practices, and that there is little standardization in the methods used to measure losses and gains in
species numbers. Even if they were to follow currently accepted best-practice principles, we find that these actions may still
fail to contribute to conservation objectives over the long term. We advocate for an alternative approach in which
biodiversity offset and compensation projects are designed and implemented as part of a National Offset Strategy that (1)
takes into account the cumulative impacts of development in individual countries, (2) identifies priority offset sites, (3)
promotes aggregated offsets, and (4) integrates biodiversity offset and compensation projects with national biodiversity
conservation objectives. We also propose supplementary principles necessary for biodiversity offsets to contribute to great
ape conservation in Africa. Caution should still

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