Ref. Ares(2013)3235515 - 14/10/2013
Directorate B - Nature, Biodiversity & Land Use
ENV.B.2 - Biodiversity
4th Meeting of the Working Group on No Net Loss of Ecosystems and their Services
4 February 2013
9:30 – 17:00.
Summary of meeting
François Wakenhut, head of the Biodiversity Unit in DG Environment, opened the
meeting and welcomed participants.
Presentation of the output of the study "Exploring potential demand for and supply
of habitat banking in the EU and appropriate design elements for a habitat banking
GHK presented the final results of this study, which incorporated the feedback on the
interim results from the workshop of 5 July 2012. The presentation focused in particular
on the legislative framework analysis, and on design elements, as these were closest to
points discussed by the Working Group (legislative gap analysis and agenda point on
management and support instruments). Feedback from the Group on the outcome of the
study was generally positive.
There were a few clarification questions, in particular on the need for mandatory
approaches vs voluntary approaches. It emerged from the following discussion that in
OECD countries, there was little incentive for private entities to act beyond existing
requirements. Voluntary approaches outside OECD countries were mainly driven by PS6.
Several participants said that existing experiences showed the limits of the business case
for adopting NNL approaches without a regulatory environment.
The executive summary, full report and annexes are available on: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/enveco/studies.htm.
Presentation of the study "Policy options for No Net Loss"
DG ENV explained that while the objectives of the GHK study had been to explore
habitat banking as a possible economic instrument in the wider portfolio of economic
instruments for the protection of the environment, the objective of this new study was to
develop possible policy options and analyse their impacts to support the Commission in
the development of the no net loss initiative.
DG ENV also explained that 4 members of the Working Group were part of the selected
consortium for this project. 3 of them would only provide punctual expertise in the
Commission européenne, B-1049 Bruxelles / Europese Commissie, B-1049 Brussel - Belgium. Telephone: (32-2) 299 11 11.
report, and would not be main authors. They would continue their work in the Working
Group without any changes. As the 4th member was foreseen to provide more substantial
input, in order to ensure transparent and effective contributions, he would be considered
as a full member of the consortium and would attend future Working Group meetings as
an observer. There was no objection to this proposed way forward. DG ENV said this
would be communicated at the following meeting of the Coordination Group on
Biodiversity and Nature (CGBN) on 21 March.
IEEP presented the tasks of the project. Questions focused on the role of the model, the
availability of data in Member States, and whether it would be possible to look at impacts
at the level of sectors. The importance and the difficulty of carrying out a gap analysis
with a clear legal orientation were highlighted. IEEP said a broader analysis on policy
options was envisaged. The Commission said that the analysis would be reviewed after
completion of the study to see whether additional work was needed.
Several participants said they would welcome the opportunity to provide further
A workshop was foreseen in the first week of July to present interim results and invite
feedback from participants. DG ENV indicated that a last Working Group meeting could
be envisaged immediately after that workshop if needed.
Update on developments in the MAES and Restoration Prioritisation Framework
(RPF) Working Groups, and associated studies
DG ENV explained that to ensure adequate communication and synergies amongst the
Working Groups, a standard point on developments in each of the Working Groups
would be included in future meeting agendas.
Developments in the MAES Working Group concerned the development of an analytical
framework linking together the state of ecosystems, ecosystem services, and human well
being. The framework included a categorisation of ecosystem types and of ecosystem
services, which could also be used in the context of the NNL initiative. 6 Pilot studies
were being launched to test the analytical framework for specific ecosystem types, as well
as two horizontal ones on data availability and on natural capital accounting.
In the RPF WG, a concept paper was being developed providing a definition of
restoration as a process, with different levels of restoration based on parameter
thresholds, rather than an absolute target level. This could also have ramifications in the
NNL work, for example in the definition of metrics.
The Working Groups were supported by two ongoing studies, one on mapping and
assessment of ecosystems, and another on the development of scenarios for implementing
Target 2 and on a restoration prioritisation framework. As these two studies and the study
on no net loss policy options had some common elements such as the development of a
baseline scenario, coordination was necessary and a first meeting had already taken place.
Other relevant studies included a study on Biodiversity Proofing, now available on the
Europa biodiversity pages, and another study soon to be completed on the costs of
implementing target 2 and financing instruments for implementation.
Finally Working Group members were encouraged to join the circabc sites related to the
other two Working Groups to have full access to the documents.
Objectives and scope of the NNL initiative
Guy Duke, from the Environment Bank, presented the revised version of the paper, which
incorporated the many comments that had been received since the last WG meeting. The
Commission welcomed the paper and clarified that its purpose was to capture the
different views within the group on the way forward. The discussion focused on: whether
compensatory measures should be allowed in Natura 2000 sites, and whether activities
outside the network could finance Natura 2000 sites; on the scope of the NNL initiative
vis à vis sectors, and whether to focus on a project-based approach for agriculture; on
biodiversity vs ecosystems and ecosystem services, and on species and habitats of
Community Interest vs the wider landscape; on the emphasis on avoidance vs offsets; and
on voluntary vs mandatory measures. Issues that were raised by participants as missing in
the paper and needing to be introduced included the minimum threshold level to be
applied, and the possibility of cross-boundary schemes (e.g. for migratory species).
The Commission highlighted that there was not consensus on several of these issues, and
that the paper should reflect the different views rather than narrow down on a single way
forward. The conclusion section in particular was too narrow in the current version, and
should be temporarily left aside to concentrate on accurately reflecting the different views
in the preceding sections.
Written comments on the current draft paper were invited by 28 February. A final version
would be produced by 2nd May, after further iterations within the subgroup, for
discussion at the following NNL meeting on 23 May. There would be an opportunity for
sending last remaining comments in writing after that meeting.
Operational principles for NNL
Ariel Bruner from Birdlife presented the revised version of the operational principles
paper. Euromines said that previous comments were not reflected in this version and
volunteered to produce a new draft. DG ENV suggested that the paper could be
structured along the three elements proposed in the draft: principles for avoiding harm;
minimise and rehabilitate; offsetting residual harm. Participants agreed this would be a
useful way forward as it would make clear there were other solutions beyond offsets, and
that there is a need for principles on avoidance and minimisation. Other issues that were
mentioned as missing in the paper included thresholds and making timing issues explicit.
There was some discussion on sections that might not be needed in the paper, including
the introductory section that overlaped with the scope and objectives paper, and the text
box on a legal analysis, given that there would be some further output from the ongoing
study on NNL policy options, and that DG ENV could look into a possible internal
analysis of the environmental acquis.
Euromines and Birdlife committed to producing a new version by 22 February. Further
comments from WG members would be invited by 7 March, with the aim of producing a
revised version by 2nd May.
Glossary of terms to use in the NNL WG
Wolfgang Wende from Leipzig University presented the revised glossary. There had been
good progress on the document. Participants discussed and agreed a number of
definitions, including for mitigation hierarchy, additionality, ratio/multipliers, and
compensation/offsets. A definition for ' equivalence' would be added in the next draft and
discussed in the next meeting, along with remaining terms in the list. It was noted that for
some terms there were already established definitions in EU legislation and that the
proposed glossary should stick as much as possible to these definitions unless there were
good reasons to deviate.
Written comments were invited by 28 February, for a revised version by 2nd May after
further iterations within the subgroup.
Discussion on management and support instruments
DG ENV recalled that the initial indicative list put forward for discussion at the 7
November meeting had been expanded following proposed additions during that meeting,
and that comments had been received from Birdlife seen. Following a discussion on the
contents and aims of this list, it was clarified that: (i) the terminology used is that of the
council conclusions of December 2011; (ii) at the moment the list was the result of a
brainstorming session and covered a wide range of options with some elements more
concrete and realistic than others, at least at EU level, and (iii) the aim was not to develop
policy options as such but to look at concrete management instruments that might be
needed in support of specific policy packages. Many of these were covered under 'design
elements' in the GHK study. A proposed way forward was to reorganise the list according
to possible criteria including: existing instruments vs new ideas, or different types of
instruments (policy, knowledge, monitoring) and seek further comments on this new
version. The international workshop foreseen for 22 May with concrete national case
studies could serve to illustrate how some of these instruments could be used through
The Commission proposed to reorganise the paper along these lines by 22 February, and
invited further comments by 7 March.
Wrap up and next steps
The next meeting of the WG would take place on 23 May, following a workshop jointly
organised with BBOP, to explore practical international experiences of offsets. The
policy options workshop would then take place in the first week of July, possibly
followed by a last meeting of the WG. Recommendations from the Working Group in the
form of the papers currently discussed were still expected towards the middle of the year.