Farmers are being encouraged to consider the idea of making environmental improvements to parts of their land to offset developments in other areas that may have a negative impact.
The concept of a biodiversity offsetting process under the Resource Management Act was among new approaches discussed at an Environmental Defence Society conference in Auckland this week.
EDS chair Gary Taylor says it's the idea that if there is going to be some environmental harm that's unavoidable, it should be offset with some sort of environmental enhancement elsewhere, so that there is no net loss and - ideally - a net gain in biodiversity.
"I think the general consensus that seems to be emerging is that biodiversity offsetting is a useful tool to be used under RMA processes," Mr Taylor says, "but it has to be used with great care and discretion."
Mr Taylor says it's important it doesn't just become an option for otherwise avoidable environmental and biodiversity destruction.
He says biodiversity offsetting already happens to some extent under the RMA, but it needs to be locked in, in a more formal way.