Skip to main content

Conservation Offsetting

Compensating for the negative impacts of development on biodiversity.

Algonquin Provincial Park © Missy Mandel


Since 2013, we have been leading research and facilitating discussions on conservation offsetting in Ontario among decision-makers, members of Indigenous communities and diverse stakeholders.

Conservation offsetting compensates for the negative impacts of development on biodiversity through positive actions (e.g., habitat restoration, creation or enhancement) that produce a benefit of an equal or greater magnitude. Offsets may be undertaken voluntarily or may be mandated by a regulator, law or policy.

Beaver River, Uxbridge © Sean Marshall


The topic has drawn both positive and negative interest across sectors.

On one hand, there is recognition that offsetting represents an opportunity to achieve important conservation gains by integrating the true environmental and social costs of biodiversity loss into development decisions.

On the other, there is understandable concern that if the policy is poorly conceived, implemented or enforced, offsetting could undermine existing protections and open the door to further loss.

Oak Ridges Moraine © Isabel Veldhuis care of EcoSpark

What we are doing

Our goal has been to ensure that as conservation offsetting moves forward in Ontario it truly benefits the natural world and affected communities. We aim to enhance our collective understanding of both the risks and the benefits so that these can be accounted for in conservation offsetting projects and policy.

For more information about Ontario Nature’s conservation offsetting project, please contact Emma Horrigan.

North Gwillimbury wetland © Tim Hagen