Introduction to the biodiversity credit methodology

The Savimbo Indicator Species Biodiversity Methodology (ISBM) provides a simplified framework that protects resilient ecosystems. Central to the methodology is direct payment to Indigenous Peoples (IP) and local communities (LC), who are the on-the-ground land guardians.

The methodology outlined in this paper may seem overly simplified to those accustomed to Western ways of thinking about science and measurement. But the aim of our methodology is to implement a solution now. Furthermore, its simplicity is backed by current understandings of complexity theory, ecological science, and Indigenous knowledge. Most importantly, it offers an immediate and scalable response to the urgent problem of biodiversity loss. Immediate action is key. Once a species is extinct, it can never be restored. Disrupted ecosystems take generations to restore. Therefore, this methodology prioritizes immediate action over all else. As earth systems science progresses, we expect to update the methodology.

The United Nations cites biodiversity as humanity’s best defense against climate change. According to IPEBS (WWF 2022), more than a million species are in danger of extinction within the next decade. Furthermore, greater than 80% of the conserved biodiversity on earth is stewarded by Indigenous peoples. Unfortunately, these people are excluded from accessing existing carbon markets due to technical, economic, or socio-cultural factors (World Wildlife Foundation 2020; National Geographic n.d.; Gordon 2022; Andrés Bermúdez Liévano 2023).

ISBM is a streamlined methodology, to meet one need: immediate activation of local and Indigenous people on the ground for conservation of primary and/or intact forests and intact biodiversity hotspots. To meet this market need, this methodology can be easily and immediately deployed. ISBM provides an immediate stopgap to preserve the habitats that are in danger today. It also appropriately remunerates Indigenous Peoples and small farmers for their work in preserving biodiversity (Buys 2007).

One of the most comprehensive reports on the economics of biodiversity notes: “From a financial perspective, just as diversity within a portfolio of financial assets reduces risk and uncertainty, so biodiversity increases nature’s resilience to shocks, and thereby reduces risks to the ecosystem services on which we rely… Reduce biodiversity, and the health of ecosystems generally suffers.” (Christianson and Center for American Progress 2016). The review also notes that quantifying the biosphere in economic terms is misleading: if the ecosystem collapses, life on Earth ceases, at which point the entire financial system is useless.

The biosphere isn’t valuable because of its economic value. It’s valuable because, without it, there is no life on Earth.

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