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Assessing the emergence of the ecological compensation instrument in Sweden: A case study of the E 12 highway and Mertainen mine
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The use of ecological compensation, or biodiversity offsets, is being investigated by the European Commission as a financial instrument for slowing down biodiversity losses. In Sweden, Chapter 16 §9 of the Environmental Code provides the legal room for compensatory requirements on areas without formal protection, although this is exercised infrequently due to ambiguities in the law’s interpretation. This paper provides an increased understanding of compensation under Chapter 16 §9 on two case studies of differing ecological complexity: a relatively simple case with the E 12 highway and a more complex case with the Mertainen mine. The institutional design and implementation procedures are examined with a focus on the mitigation hierarchy, the loss-gain calculations and social outcomes. The paper advocates the term ‘Developer-pays Principle’, where the developer should be required to internalise the external costs of biodiversity losses caused by development activities. A literature review is carried out, complemented by semi-structured interviews with stakeholders. The results suggest a minimal risk of compensation enabling a license-to-trash due to the structure of the EIA and the legal permission approval process. The findings from the loss-gain calculations indicate that a qualitative approach is more commonly used in Sweden as opposed to a quantitative one. As there are no consistent approaches to valuing losses and gains, the compensation plan is often dependent on the ambitions of the developer. Although limited evidence of the final social outcomes are available, certain social safeguards were observed in the initial implementation stages of the case studies: Access to recreation, Preservation of cultural heritage and Stakeholder participation. The discussion then identifies opportunities for improving the implementation of compensation: (1) Stricter compensatory requirements in sectors with low competitive power, (2) Supply-side compensation to lower transaction costs and (3) Complementary qualitative and quantitative methods of valuing biodiversity for consistent ambitions of compensation plans. The use of this instrument should be scaled up if Sweden is to contribute towards the EU’s goal of No net loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 60 p.
Examensarbete vid Institutionen för geovetenskaper, ISSN 1650-6553 ; 240
Keyword [en]
Sustainable Development, Ecological Compensation, Biodiversity Offsets, No Net Loss, Developer-pays Principle
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-254641OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-254641DiVA: diva2:819120
External cooperation
Stockholm Resilience Center
Educational program
Master Programme in Sustainable Development
2015-06-02, Geocentrum, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, 09:12 (English)
Available from: 2015-06-10 Created: 2015-06-10 Last updated: 2015-06-10Bibliographically approved

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