Over the past three decades, China’s government has implemented many projects under its ecological compensation policy, including paying compensation fees for habitat creation to redress natural habitat losses caused by development. Researchers at the University of Oxford have compiled diverse data to produce a critical evaluation of both the policy design and its ecological outcomes.
In this webinar, Shuo Gao and Dr. Sophus zu Ermgassen will give an overview of some key features of China’s compensation scheme, and discuss the several challenges faced by the scheme, as well as some potential opportunities to learn from its successes.
Dr Sophus zu Ermgassen
Sophus is an ecological economist working on topics broadly related to biodiversity finance, UK environmental policy, biodiversity compensation (e.g. biodiversity offsetting, Biodiversity Net Gain), infrastructure sustainability, nature-positive organisations, and postgrowth economics. Examples of his recent research projects include evaluating the outcomes of biodiversity compensation systems in the UK and abroad, exploring the sustainability dimensions of the UK housing affordability crisis and charting policy pathways to achieving “a home for all within planetary boundaries”, and evaluating the species threatened globally by society’s growing demand for sand and construction minerals.
His work has featured in media outlets including the Guardian, BBC Countryfile and the Times, and he is a regular contributor to media stories about Biodiversity Net Gain, biodiversity finance and biodiversity offsetting. Sophus advises Natural England as a member of their Biodiversity Net Gain Monitoring and Evaluation expert advisory group, and the UK Treasury as a member of their Biodiversity Economics Working Group. He was an expert contributor to the UK Environmental Audit Committee’s 2021 report on Biodiversity and Ecosystems, and the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology POSTBrief on ‘Biodiversity Net Gain’.
He also advises multilateral development institutions and companies on biodiversity offset policy and safeguards, and nature-positive strategies. He is the co-host of the European Society for Ecological Economics podcast “Economics for Rebels”. In 2022 he was named on the ENDS Report “Power List” of the 100 most influential environmental professionals in the UK, and in 2023 he was shortlisted in the Natural Environment Research Council Research Impact awards.
Shuo Gao is an ecological economist at the University of Oxford working on topics related to ecological compensation, no net loss/net gain, environmental and social impact assessment, social-ecological systems, human well-being and social justice. His current project focuses on China’s ecological compensation scheme. His recent paper collects data from different sources and provides the first overall evaluation of the outcomes of China’s compensation policy and practice for development-related biodiversity loss.
His commentary has also been published in Science, highlighting the importance of compensation governance for effectiveness monitoring and the need to increase transparency and accountability in China’s compensation system. His work has been covered by international media in and outside China. He received funding from St Hilda’s College and the Eurofins Foundation for his research and fieldwork in China.