Watch the tutorial video of game rules!
The game can be used for “flipped classroom”, where the students first read texts about biodiversity offsetting, then play the game, and then the issues are discussed. It can also be used for problem based learning, for example by playing the game first, followed by debriefing and a lecture and/or reading. However, we suggest asking students before playing if they have already heard about BDO. The subject should be briefly introduced before playing.
If learning about biodiversity offsetting is the goal of the gaming session, we propose that the discussion and teaching after game should include a bit more detailed explanation of biodiversity offsetting and its problems, challenges and mechanisms.
However, the game can be used to explore other matters too, such as nature conservation or corporate social responsibility.
The game often raises feelings of frustration and joy. It is good to discuss the negative and positive emotions that they players felt during playing.
- How did you feel about playing your role?
- How did you feel about the other roles?
Biodiversity offsetting is a controversial tool and there are uncertainties regarding its use. One of the organising principles of biodiversity offsetting is the idea that by restoring nature, you offset the damages and reach a no net loss of biodiversity. Moreover, there are other important biodiversity offsetting principles present in the game, such as mitigation hierarchy (first avoid damage, then reduce damage, then offset damage), additionality (is it used to fund something that would be done anyway?) and long-term duration (will the offsetting measures last?). These issues can be explored by explaining these principles and going through events in the game and discussing them as a group.
- What do you think about biodiversity offsetting as a tool for nature conservation? (what seems to work, what does not, what are the conflicts of interest between different actors)?
- What do you think about biodiversity offsetting as a tool for land use planning and development?
- Was there a net loss of biodiversity in the game even if offsetting aims at no net loss? What about in reality?
- Mitigation hierarchy means that damage to nature should be first avoided, then mitigated and only then offset. How do you think this hierarchy was present in the game? What about in reality?
- Additionality means that biodiversity offsetting should be made in addition to other, obligatory conservation measures and it should not replace them. Do you think this happened in the game? What about in reality?
- Which implementation difficulties can you see through your game experience?
Development, decoupling and de-growth
There are elements in the game that can lead to discussion about sustainable development, decoupling and degrowth.
- Which projects in the game do you think are necessary in real life?
- What is the difference between sustainable and profitable projects in the game? What do you think about sustainable development projects in real life?
- Why do you think this area (as stated in the narrative) is the last reserve for these species? What is the cause of that?
- How many species went regionally extinct? (tiles set aside without offsetting)
- What do you think about the end game situation and the ratio between development and loss of biodiversity? Is it acceptable? Why / why not?
- How do you imagine the future of this area? Will there be more development? Why / why not?
- What do you think could be done to prevent further biodiversity loss?
Scientific articles and texts (links provided to open access versions)
Apostolopoulou, E. (2019). Biodiversity Offsetting and the Contradictions of the Capitalist Production of Nature. Arcadia.
Apostolopoulou, E., & Adams, W. M. (2017). Biodiversity offsetting and conservation: reframing nature to save it. Oryx, 51(1), 23-31.
Benabou, S. (2014). Making up for lost nature? A critical review of the international development of voluntary biodiversity offsets. Environment and Society, 5(1), 103-123.
Bonneuil, C. (2015). Tell me where you come from, I will tell you who you are: A genealogy of biodiversity offsetting mechanisms in historical context. Biological Conservation, 192, 485-491.
Bull, J. W., Suttle, K. B., Gordon, A., Singh, N. J., & Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2013). Biodiversity offsets in theory and practice. Oryx, 47(3), 369-380.
Griffiths, V. F., Bull, J. W., Baker, J., & Milner‐Gulland, E. J. (2019). No net loss for people and biodiversity. Conservation Biology, 33(1), 76-87.
Ives, C. D., & Bekessy, S. A. (2015). The ethics of offsetting nature. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 13(10), 568-573.
Maron, M., Ives, C., Kujala, H., Bull, J.W., Maseky, F.J.F., Bekessy, S.et al. (2016) Taming a wicked problem: resolving controversies in biodiversity offsetting. BioScience, 66, 489–498.
Moilanen, A., & Kotiaho, J. S. (2018). Planning biodiversity offsets: Twelve operationally important decisions. Nordisk Ministerråd.
Fauna & Flora international: What is biodiversity offsetting?
Gordo.it: Biodiversity offsetting
Fauna & Flora International: Biodiversity offsetting – learning from success and failure. https://www.fauna-flora.org/news/biodiversity-offsetting-learn-ing-from-success-and-failure