Heini Kujala

Heini Kujala

Abstract | Taking the landscape view: from ad hoc to strategic offsets

Biodiversity impact assessments and biodiversity offsetting typically focus on individual development proposals at a single location. However, at the larger scale, habitats are lost via several independent development projects that go forward simultaneously and/or through time. Regulations that result in ad hoc assessments of individual impacts and their offsetting needs are unlikely to effectively curb total impacts that accumulate over large spatial scales for multiple species. This promotes what is called the “death by thousand cuts”, where biodiversity is degraded by many small impacts that individually do not appear to threaten species’ persistence. Without comprehensive understanding of the changes in the amount and configuration of habitat at the landscape level, marginal impacts on the ecological functions of populations cannot be assessed. Furthermore, assessments based on single or few species or components are unlikely to correctly portray the impacts across the broader range of biodiversity, leading to unrecorded losses for unassessed species and communities.

In this talk I will give an overview of the benefits of moving from individual project-by-project to landscape level assessment of impacts and offsetting needs. Drawing on findings from various case studies I will show how landscape level approaches allow better monitoring of net biodiversity outcomes and more strategic targeting of offsets.

Bio | Heini Kujala

Dr Heini Kujala is a Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on spatial conservation planning and how to prioritise conservation actions at the landscape level. She has worked closely with spatial optimization problems and how to translate these complex concepts into effective conservation practices. Dr Kujala co-leads research on biodiversity offsetting policy and tools under the Australia’s Government funded NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub.