News June 2024

Nature's plural values make it to court

When someone maliciously harms you, either materially or morally, they often need to pay you an indemnity in addition to punishment for the possible offence. Even if this does not always allow you to repair the damage, as a victim you are still compensated to some extent. This is rarely so when causing damage to nature, because to whom should this indemnity be paid and how do we determine the amounts?

These very difficult questions are at the origin of the BIOVAL project. INBO was brought in by EUFJE, the network of European environmental judges, to help answer them. Using the IPBES principles for plural valuation of nature, we drew up a list of indicative financial compensation amounts. Following the example of an existing indicative list for physical damage (e.g. for traffic offences), these indicative amounts can be used by prosecutors and judges for claiming compensation in criminal cases involving irreparable damage to nature.

The calculation is ready for 100 vertebrates (commonly found in such cases) and will be expanded in the future. We will also work with the Agency for Nature and Forests to find compensations for protected vegetations, forests and small landscape elements.

Meanwhile, this list has already been applied a few times in court, resulting in more than the token euro being claimed for the loss of nature, unlike before. Important to note, this compensation then goes to a fund for nature restoration.

Want to know more? Read the discussion paper on the research, or take a look at the project's website where a database of court cases is also maintained.

Jomme Desair

Image above: Bird trapping with glue sticks in Cyprus (photo Lars Soerink - Vildaphoto)


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