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Johanna Alkan Olsson outdoors. Photo.

Johanna Alkan Olsson

Social environmental scientist

Johanna Alkan Olsson outdoors. Photo.

Ekologisk kompensation som verktyg i miljömålsarbetet : Syntes från en forskningssatsning


  • K. Ingemar Jönsson
  • Lina A Widenfalk
  • Lena Bergström
  • Katarina Elofsson
  • Johanna Alkan Olsson
  • Erik Öckinger
  • Mikael Karlsson
  • Helena Hanson
  • Scott Cole
  • Jonas Josefsson
  • Henrik Josefsson

Summary, in English

This report represents a synthesis of seven ”environmental compensation1” research projects funded by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management between 2018 and 2021. This synthesis has been built upon the final reports of each individual research project, as well as comments provided by the two funding agencies that emphasized specific aspects of the research that they thought was particularly relevant for future implementation of compensation.
Rather than providing a comprehensive summary of each of the projects’ conclusions, the synthesis focuses on four specific themes: (i) ethical arguments regarding the use of compensation, (ii) conditions for both mandatory and voluntary compensation, (iii) models for estimating the scale of environmental damage and subsequent gains from compensation; and (iv) long-term follow-up and evaluation of compensation measures. The use of environmental compensation today is relatively limited, but there is potential to develop and increase the use of this policy instrument. Based on the research projects this report points to a number of aspects related to the implementation of compensation that need to be improved if this instrument is to reverse the decline in biodiversity and ecosystem services, or if it is to contribute to a net gain in these values. This synthesis report provides a number of proposals aimed specifically at the government agencies in Sweden that will play a key role in implementing environmental compensation. We summarize these proposals briefly below.
The legal framework and national policy
• The legal framework should provide more explicit support for applying the mitigation hierarchy; further, the connection between the hierarchy and the ”two-part permitting process2” should be clarified.
• The legal framework – and the supporting national policy for compensation – should provide a clear formulation regarding the overall goal of environmental compensation.
• The legal framework should clarify when environmental compensation is not an option and damage from a development project should be prevented completely
• A future investigation should consider whether the Swedish Environmental Code should explicitly refer to the goal of ”a net gain” in biodiversity and ecosystem services and, if so, how it should be formulated. Further, the investigation should address whether this goal should be clarified in the existing environmental quality objectives.
• The Swedish Environmental Code should be revised to include a requirement for systematic long-term follow-up of all compensation measures.
• National guidelines should be developed on follow-up and evaluation of environmental compensation. The guidelines should also address who bears responsibility for executing and funding this work.
Development of compensation pools
• Further investigation is needed considering the necessary pre-conditions for
establishing “compensation pools”, which could be managed by either public or
private actors. The investigation should analyze implications related to responsibilities as well as the possible social and socioeconomic effects of such pools.
Voluntary compensation: municipalities and business
• There is a need for common national guidelines for compensation – and more
detailed guidance documents – in order to clarify
i. how the relevant actors should organize and structure their work related to
voluntary compensation and
ii. how the compensatory goal should be defined and how it should relate to the
systematic follow-up to measure the effectiveness of the compensation
• There is a need for increased clarity with respect to the interaction between
environmental compensation as an instrument, and a variety of planning
documents currently used on the municipal level (e.g., comprehensive plans,
detailed development plans, green infrastructure planning, environmental
restoration planning, etc). Improved clarity will ensure that municipalities can
implement compensation in a consistent, transparent och strategic manner,
while also ensuring effective long-term follow-up and evaluation.
Models for estimating the scale of environmental compensation
• Policy documents and guidelines should be established for determining the
accepted amount of flexibility in scaling compensation measures across time,
space, and type of nature values affected.
• National guidelines should, based on precautionary reasons, propose a set of
multipliers for scaling compensation that explicitly account for future uncertainty and should also consider socioeconomic aspects.
• There is a need for proposals on how to improve the possibility to apply a
landscape perspective when developing compensation measures.
• Existing metrics models for estimating the scale of compensation should be
developed further and should account for socioeconomic, social, ecological
perspectives, och also take legal aspects into account.
• National guidelines should address the preferred environmental metrics to
estimate the scale of compensation, and should also address when simple
“standard values” can be used to assess the scale of compensation
Public participation
• There is a need for a clear process of how best to include affected groups from
the public in decisions about environmental compensation
Information, monitoring/follow-up and evaluation
• National guidelines should be developed on how data from initiated and com-
pleted compensation projects may be compiled and made available. This should
include a publicly accessible database that summarizes relevant information
• There is a need for a national database with geographic information about
completed compensation projects to allow long-term monitoring


  • LU Profile Area: Nature-based future solutions
  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate

Publishing year





Rapport / Naturvårdsverket



Document type





  • Ecology
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary



Report number

rapport 7103


  • ISSN: 0282-7298
  • ISBN: 978-91-620-7103-5