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Photo by Kalyanee Mam taken in Boke, Guinea 2018

Biodiversity Offsets

It is my opinion that we cannot trade the life of one great ape for another.


In my research I have found very little evidence for the durability of offsets, and therefore question whether they protect species in perpetuity as they as supposed to.


I believe that the word "offset" is misleading and is used to ease the conscious of humankind that they are somehow undoing damage that has been done.

Nevertheless, when it is not possible to avoid a project damaging the habitat of great apes, then I do believe that some sort of compensation is due, but that it should be done in a visionary way, that involves strategic placement, and aggregation of funds and sites.

One of the most exciting offset to follow is that of the newly created Moyen Bafing National Park. This was created by the Guinean Government in partnership with the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, the IFC and the mining companies CBG and GAC. It will protect approximately 4,000 chimpanzees. However, if the Koukoutamba dam that is slated to be built in the middle of the park goes ahead, this could kill up to 1,500 of these chimpanzees. Stay tuned!

Photo by Kalyanee Mam taken in Bossou, Guinea 2018

"No Net Loss" &

"Net gain"

When a chimpanzee drowns from an area being flooded for a dam, starves to death because of loss of habitat, or is killed in a brutal attack from another chimpanzee when he is pushed into another group's habitat - even if habitat elsewhere is protected that was formerly unprotected, I could never call this "no net loss," or a "net gain." We would never say this about people.

Instead of offsets, I suggest the term "ecological reparations." We are paying for damages that were done that can never be undone. This terminology at least recognizes the irrevocable damage.


Please click here for a paper advocating for a national strategy for biodiversity offsets for chimpanzees in Guinea.

Please click here for a paper on Great Apes and biodiversity offsets in Africa. 

Please click here for the study that I did with Deborah Mead and Brook Vinnedge on Biodiversity Offsetting in the United States: Lessons learned on maximizing their ecological contribution, and here for the full report. Thank you so much to the Arcus Foundation for funding this work.

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