Guidelines on Business and KBAs: Managing Risk to Biodiversity

The Guidelines on Business and KBAs provide a roadmap for companies operating in areas important for the conservation of species and ecosystems. Without effective management systems, businesses may be contributing to the destruction, degradation and overexploitation of some of the world’s most important sites for the conservation of biodiversity, also known as Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs).

Following the adoption of the Global Standard for the Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas in 2016, the KBA Partnership was created to map, monitor and conserve these important biodiversity areas. The Guidelines on Business and KBAs: Managing Risk to Biodiversity are the first result of this partnership.  

The KBA Partners recommend the application of the mitigation hierarchy to any project with direct, indirect, or cumulative impacts on biodiversity. Furthermore, to support the effective implementation of the various steps in the mitigation hierarchy, the KBA Partners recommend the adoption of the 15 Guidelines specifically aimed at ensuring the global persistence of biodiversity in line with the purpose of the KBA Standard, which is to locate and highlight sites that make significant contributions to the global persistence of biodiversity.

The Guidelines can be applied by businesses of all sizes and in all sectors, and by existing and new business operations having, and potentially having, direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on a Key Biodiversity Area. They are designed assuming their application to the businesses’ area of influence and to the entire life cycle of the operation, from pre-feasibility to closure (and, where relevant, site rehabilitation). The Guidelines can also be integrated into responsible sourcing policies for goods and services, the production of which could have direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on KBAs.

Over time, a portfolio of diverse case studies providing practical examples of management approaches will be available. In the interim, a set of fictional scenarios has been developed to illustrate different approaches. The scenarios are organized according to the KBA criteria. Most of the scenarios draw closely on real-life examples, however not all of them are inside KBAs and some situations have been modified to tell a more relevant story. They illustrate how mitigation measures can be used to maintain the trigger elements for which the site has been identified as a KBA.

These Guidelines has been prepared by IUCN, based on the guidance and input provided by representatives of the KBA Partners. They build on the input provided by the participants to the End Users Consultation workshop (held in Gland, Switzerland, 4–5 July 2016) and by the organisations that submitted comments during the public consultation period (2 December 2016–17 March 2017). For more information on the Guidelines please contact IUCN.

This section of the KBA website was designed to complement the Guidelines. It has been developed by Nigel Dudley (Equilibrium), Stuart Anstee (independent), Giulia Carbone (IUCN) with input from the KBA Partners, in particular Andy Plumtre (WCS), Charlie Butt (BirdLife International), Hedley Grantham (WCS), Hugo Rainey (WCS), Melanie Heath (BirdLife International), Penny Langhammer (GWC and ASA), Stuart Butchart (BirdLife International), Sue Lieberman (WCS), Tom Brooks (IUCN), Zoltan Waliczky (BirdLife International).

The KBA Partners are grateful to The Tiffany & Co. Foundation for its generous financial support.


The Mitigation Hierarchy

The KBA Partners recommend the application of the mitigation hierarchy to any project with direct, indirect, or cumulative impacts on KBAs (see Box 1).

Furthermore, to support the effective implementation of the various steps in the mitigation hierarchy, the KBA Partners recommend the adoption of additional measures specifically aimed at ensuring the global persistence of biodiversity, in line with the purpose of the KBA Standard, which is to locate and highlight sites that make significant contributions to the global persistence of biodiversity. These additional measures are captured in the 15 Guidelines.

The mitigation hierarchy was developed to help the business sector manage its impact on biodiversity (see Figure 1). The mitigation hierarchy calls for the project developer to take the following actions in this order: avoidance, minimisation, restoration, and when unavoidable residual impacts remain, biodiversity offsets. It therefore offers a framework to reduce and then compensate for impacts on a KBA’s biodiversity elements. The first two elements of the hierarchy (avoidance and minimisation) are often described as preventative actions, and should be the primary focus of any project developer, while the second two (restoration/rehabilitation and offsets) are referred to as remediation measures, as they rehabilitate and compensate for impacts on biodiversity.

Figure 1: The mitigation hierarchy (adapted from BBOP)

According to the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme (2012), the steps of the mitigation hierarchy are defined as:

1. Avoidance: measures taken to avoid creating impacts from the outset, such as careful spatial or temporal placement of elements of infrastructure in order to completely avoid impacts on certain components of biodiversity.

2. Minimisation: measures taken to reduce the duration, intensity, and/or extent of impacts, including, as appropriate, direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts (including from climate change), that cannot be completely avoided, as far as is practically feasible.

3. Rehabilitation/restoration: measures taken to rehabilitate degraded ecosystems or restore cleared ecosystems following exposure to impacts that cannot be completely avoided and/or minimised.

4. Offsets: measures taken to compensate for any residual significant, adverse impacts that cannot be avoided, minimised, and/or rehabilitated or restored, in order to achieve no net loss or a net gain of biodiversity. Offsets can take the form of positive management interventions, such as restoration of degraded habitat or arrested degradation, or averted risk through protection of areas where there is imminent or projected loss of biodiversity. Offsets should only be considered after following the first three steps of the mitigation hierarchy to further reduce residual impacts.


Box 1: Direct impacts are those that occur on site, generally appear fairly quickly, and are directly linked to the project activity or operations. Indirect impacts are impacts triggered in response to the project or operations but not directly caused by them. Indirect impacts may originate farther away from the site, for example pollution upstream could impact KBAs far away in another part of the watershed, or a reduction in prey species could impact on a predator. Cumulative impacts are perhaps the most difficult to measure and include all impacts from the project or operations, as well as all impacts generated by activities of others (other businesses and all other users of the resources).


Generally, according to IUCN (IUCN policy on Biodiversity Offsets, 2016), an appropriate application of the mitigation hierarchy must follow, at a minimum, the following fundamental principles:

1. Be applied as early as possible in the project life cycle, to inform potential development decisions.

2. Explicitly consider the project within a broader landscape or seascape context.

3. Identify and respect nationally and internationally recognized ‘no-go’ areas.

4. Thoroughly examine lower impact alternatives in the project design, including not proceeding with the project at all, recognising that not all impacts can be offset to achieve No Net Loss.

5. Give priority to avoiding any damage to biodiversity.

6. Take full account of direct, indirect and cumulative impacts, geographically and over time.

7. Clearly distinguish impact avoidance, minimisation and on-site restoration measures from offsets.

8. Design offsets to achieve at least No Net Loss and preferably a Net Gain of biodiversity.

9. Ensure any biodiversity offsets used as part of the mitigation hierarchy secure additional conservation outcomes that would not have happened otherwise.

10. Use approaches that are science-based, transparent, participatory, and address the effects of the project and mitigation actions on livelihoods.

11. Follow a Rights-based Approach, as defined by IUCN resolution WCC-2012-Res-099.

12. Identify and put in place the legal, institutional, and financial measures needed to ensure long-term governance of all mitigation actions (including any biodiversity offsets).

13. Apply a rigorous monitoring, evaluation, and enforcement system that includes independent verification of all mitigation actions.

14. Apply the Precautionary principle throughout all stages of the mitigation hierarchy.

15. Apply the Ecosystem approach in all stages of the mitigation hierarchy.


The role of governments

The KBA Standard provides a science-driven approach to identifying globally important sites for biodiversity conservation. Although identification and use of KBAs is voluntary, a growing number of governments are incorporating KBAs into their policies and, eventually, legislation. To date KBAs have been identified for birds and other taxa in specific areas of the World but there will be a process to identify sites for many other taxonomic groups over the next 10 years. If and when KBAs are recognised by international agreements, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the involvement at state level will continue to expand. The role of governments is therefore still evolving and likely to become more central in the future.

There are four key ways in which governments become actively involved in KBAs:

1. Through identification: Some governments have participated in the identification of KBAs at a national level, often in partnership with academics or non-governmental organisations. Turkey and the Philippines are two examples of governments that have taken this approach.

2. Through conservation actions: Governments can use KBAs to an increasing extent to identify additional protected areas. Governments are the main institutions capable of taking such action, although other actors can also replicate such decisions through land purchase and declaration of privately protected areas. Indigenous peoples and local communities can declare Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs), though they generally need government support to ensure full protection.

3. Through management: Governments have a central role in deciding how land and water is managed. Management actions could include restrictions on activities at a site or biodiversity conservation targets that a land user might be expected to meet.

4. Through restoration: Governments are increasingly involved in restoration initiatives, and such efforts are increasingly linked to high biodiversity areas; the existence of a KBA can be an important criterion in the choice of restoration sites.


Climate change and KBAs

As the climate changes, so do many factors that determine ecosystem function and species’ fundamental niches (e.g. temperature, rainfall, cloud formation, and evaporation rates). The distribution and abundance of many species will likely be affected by changing conditions, such as changes in the length of the growing season, variations in the timing of seasonal events, or an increase in extreme weather events. The precise impacts are hard to predict and require a depth of knowledge of ecology that is extremely rare. However, large, connected, and functional ecosystems containing largely intact assemblages are believed to be more resilient to climate change.

We can expect a decrease in biodiversity as species’ climate niches are exceeded and some are pushed into extinction (Urban, 2016). Future conservation will be aimed at reducing losses, probably targeting key species and using non-traditional practices (e.g. assisted migration).

In some places, within the next few decades we will be managing ‘novel ecosystems’ (i.e. new mixtures of plants and animals that have developed as a result of a rapidly changing climate, coupled with other human-induced changes such as the introduction of new species); we have virtually no experience about this in practice. Objectives focused solely on maintaining the status quo are often not going to be useful in the long term.

KBAs are traditionally viewed as fixed, spatially explicit areas, delineated by agreed criteria. If species and ecosystems move and alter, how useful will static sites be as conservation tools in the future? Evidence to date shows that while some KBAs may no longer be important for some of the biodiversity elements for which they were originally identified, many will become important for different values. Some KBA boundaries may need to be adjusted, while additional KBAs might be needed to conserve future populations of species or ecosystems of concern. This underscores the importance of periodic re-evaluation and updating of KBAs as specified in the KBA standard.

The location of areas of stable climate during past rapid climatic events (known as climate refugia) is likely to be useful for focusing efforts to identify KBAs as part of future conservation plans. Intact species assemblages and well-functioning ecosystems are also likely to be less impacted by climate change than degraded, small, or highly threatened sites. Large intact areas are already criteria for KBAs, and such sites may provide the greatest contribution to allowing species to adapt naturally to climate change.

For all these reasons, KBA networks are likely to evolve over time to reflect changing ecosystems. These changes might include, for instance:

  • shifting boundaries of KBAs to reflect local changes in species or ecosystem range;
  • identifying new KBAs that are important for accommodating species and ecosystem change in the future;
  • de-listing some KBAs if they no longer contain biodiversity elements that trigger the criteria (and are unlikely to contain these in the future); and
  • identifying key landscapes and seascapes between KBAs that are of greatest importance to accommodate species and ecosystem movement (i.e. enhance connectivity).

Climate change will also likely mean revising management recommendations for KBAs over time, and priority setting for KBAs, as with all land-use planning, will necessarily become more dynamic. Institutions managing KBAs may tighten restrictions on what is permitted within KBAs, particularly if these KBAs overlap with areas likely to experience severe climate change. Businesses operating in KBAs may face new challenges themselves due to the changing climate. Management may sometimes have to address temporary changes in cases where ecosystem shifts are taking place or where novel ecosystems are evolving. None of these changes will be easy to accomplish, but all are already being considered in related conservation fields.


Urban, M. (2016) Accelerating extinction rate from climate change. Science 348, 571-574.


KBAs and protected areas

The identification of a site as a KBA is unrelated to its legal status. However, its status will often inform KBA delineation, because KBAs are defined as pragmatically as possible; if an existing designation roughly matches a KBA, it will generally be used for the KBA. Many KBAs overlap wholly with existing protected area boundaries, including sites designated under international conventions (e.g. Ramsar and World Heritage) and areas protected at national and local levels (e.g. national parks, indigenous or community conserved areas). However, not all KBAs are protected areas and not all protected areas are KBAs. It is recognised that other management approaches may also be appropriate to safeguard KBAs; the identification of a site as a KBA simply implies that the site should be managed in ways that ensure the persistence of the biodiversity elements for which it is important (particular species or habitats).

For more information read the KBA Partnership report: The Relationship between KBAs and Protected Areas


Correspondence between KBA Standard criteria and the IFC’s Performance Standard 6 critical habitat criteria


Critical habitat criteria

KBA criteria

i) habitat of significant importance to Critically Endangered and/or Endangered species

A1a, A1c, A1e

(ii) habitat of significant importance to endemic and/or restricted-range species

B1, B2

(iii) habitat supporting globally significant concentrations of migratory species and/or congregatory species

D1, D2, D3

(iv) highly threatened and/or unique ecosystems

A2, B4

v) areas associated with key evolutionary processes



References and Resources

Brauneder K., Montes C., Blyth S., Bennun L., Butchart S., Hoffmann M., Burgess N.D., Cuttelod A., Jones M., Kapos V., Pilgrim J., Tolley M, Underwood E., Weatherdon L., Brooks S., (in press), Global screening for Critical Habitat in the terrestrial realm.


Indigenous peoples, local communities, and KBAs

Many indigenous peoples and local communities face mounting pressure with respect to their traditional lands and waters, from encroachment by outsiders, theft of natural resources, or takeover for development by large-scale mining, infrastructure, ranching, or agricultural interests.

It is well-established that there is often a strong overlap between high biodiversity and territories of indigenous peoples. Many such territories therefore are or may be identified as KBAs, and their loss or degradation poses a threat to both human cultures and livelihoods and valuable ecosystems and species.

At the same time, a growing number of indigenous territories and land and water controlled by local communities are being actively managed as Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs), defined by IUCN as ‘natural and/or modified ecosystems, containing significant biodiversity values, ecological benefits, and cultural values, voluntarily conserved by indigenous peoples and local communities, both sedentary and mobile, through customary laws or other effective means’. ICCAs have three essential characteristics:

  • an indigenous people or local community possesses a close and profound relation with the site (territory, area, or habitat);
  • the people or community is the major player in decision making related to the site and has de facto and/or de jure capacity to develop and enforce regulations; and
  • the people’s or community’s decisions and efforts lead to the conservation of biodiversity, ecological functions, and associated cultural values, regardless of original or primary motivations.

While some ICCAs are officially recognised as protected areas, most can be described as ‘other effective area-based conservation measures’. Although the biodiversity values of ICCAs are increasingly documented, many remain under serious threat.

Recognition of the overlap between KBAs, indigenous territories, local communities, and ICCAs can provide additional political support for maintaining governance regimes that are compatible with biodiversity conservation, provided that the community conserves the KBA trigger values. In these cases, securing collective governance by indigenous peoples and local communities can be valuable within national biodiversity strategies, possibly but not necessarily as part of the protected areas that permit traditional use (often IUCN category V or VI). 

The Philippines government, for example, has been stressing the value of traditional governance by indigenous peoples for the country’s KBAs and is seeking ways to recognise their collective rights and capacities both within and outside their formal protected areas. Notably, ICCAs are recognised not just as valuable for the conservation of KBAs, but also for the support of sustainable livelihoods and the recognition of collective rights and responsibilities.

The effective incorporation of ICCAs within the KBA framework must necessarily be accompanied by the recognition and support of the collective rights and traditional ecological knowledge and institutions of indigenous peoples and local communities. This could include, for example, use and recognition of traditional ecological knowledge in helping to identify KBAs, access to KBA data within ICCAs regulated by the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the rights-holder peoples and communities, and recognition of the types of traditional governance institutions and management approaches that maintain the KBAs through time.


Resources and references

The key source of information on KBAs is the Global Standard for identification, a technical document that gives precise ecological justification for each criterion and in itself can help to determine management approaches within KBAs:

IUCN. (2016). A Global Standard for the Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas, Version 1.0. First edition. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.

The location of KBAs identified to date is available in the World Database of Key Biodiversity Areas: and through IBAT for Business for commercial users

Some other resources likely to be of interest to practitioners include:

Aiama, D., Edwards, S., Bos, G., Ekstrom, J., Krueger, L., Quétier, F., Savy, C., Semroc, B., Sneary, M., and Bennun, L. (2015). No Net Loss and Net Positive Impact Approaches for Biodiversity: exploring the potential application of these approaches in the commercial agriculture and forestry sectors. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Anstee, S., Bennun, L., Temple, H., and Dutson, G. (2016). Biodiversity Management: Leading practice sustainable development program for the mining industry. Department of Industry. Canberra, Australia.

BBOP. (2009). Biodiversity Offset Implementation Handbook. Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme, Washington, DC.

Bissonette, J. (2007). Evaluation of the Use and Effectiveness Of Wildlife Crossings NCHRP 25-27. Prepared for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies.

Brown, J.J., Limburg, K.E., Waldman, J.R., Stephenson, K., Glenn, E.P., Juanes, F., and Jordaan, A. (2013). Fish and hydropower on the U.S. Atlantic coast: failed fisheries policies from half-way technologies. Conservation Letters 6 (4): 280-286.

Bubb, P., Brooks, S., and Chenery, A. (2014). Incorporating Indicators into NBSAPs- Guidance for Practitioners. UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, UK, 20pp. 

Byron, H. (2000). Biodiversity and Environmental Impact Assessment: A Good Practice Guide for Road Schemes. The RSPB, WWF-UK, English Nature and the Wildlife Trusts, Sandy. 120 pages.

CSBI. (2015). A cross-sector guide for implementing the mitigation hierarchy. Prepared by the Biodiversity Consultancy on behalf of IPIECA, ICMM, and the Equator Principles Association, Cambridge, UK.

CSBI. (2013). CSBI timeline tool: A tool for aligning timelines for project execution, biodiversity management and financing. Prepared by the Biodiversity Consultancy on behalf of IPIECA, ICMM, and the Equator Principles Association, Cambridge, UK.

Donald, P.F., Fishpool, L.D.C., Ajagbe, A., Bennun, L.A., Bunting, G., Burfield, I.J., Butchart, S.H.M., Capellan, S., Crosby, M.J., Dias, M.P., Diaz, D., Evans, M.I., Grimmett, R., Heath, M., Jones, V.R., Lascelles, B.G., Merriman, J.C., O`Brien, M., Ramirez, I., Waliczky, Z., & Wege, D.C. (in review) Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs): the development and characteristics of a global inventory of key sites for biodiversity.

Gullison, R.E., Hardner, J., Anstee, S., and Meyer, M. (2015). Good practices for the collection of biodiversity baseline data. Prepared for the Multilateral Financing Institutions Biodiversity Working Group and Cross-Sector Biodiversity Initiative, ICMM, London, 

Hardner, J., Gullison, R.E., Anstee, S., and Meyer, M. (2015). Good practices for biodiversity inclusive impact assessment and management planning. Prepared for the Multilateral Financing Institutions Biodiversity Working Group,

IFAD. (2015). How to do. Seeking free, prior and informed consent in IFAD investment projects.

Parkes, D., Newell, G., and Cheal, D. (2003). Assessing the quality of native vegetation: the ‘habitat hectares’ approach. Ecological Management and Restoration 4: S29-S38.

Rainey, H., Pollard, E., Dutson, G., Ekstrom, J., Livingstone, S., Temple, H., and Pilgrim, J. (2015). A review of corporate goals of No Net Loss and Net Positive Impact on biodiversity. In Oryx 49 (2): 232-238.

RSPO. (2015). Free, Prior and Informed Consent Guide for RSPO members.

Society for Ecological Restoration. (2004). Primer on Ecological Restoration. Available at

Spellerberg, I. (2002). Ecological Effects of Roads. Science Publishers, Enfield, NH. 251 pages.

Temple, H.J., Anstee, S., Ekstrom, J., Pilgrim, J.D., Rabenantoandro, J., Ramanamanjato, J.B., Randriatafika, F., and Vincelette, M. (2012). Forecasting the path towards a Net Positive Impact on biodiversity for Rio Tinto QMM.  IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

UN Environment WCMC. (2017). Biodiversity indicators for Extractive Companies. In prep.

Waliczky, Z., Fishpool, L.D.C., Butchart, S.H.M., Thomas, D., Heath, M.F., Hazin, C., Donald, P.F., Kowalska, A., Dias, M.P. / Allinson, T.S.N. (in review) Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs): the impact of IBAs on conservation policy, advocacy and action.

World Commission on Dams. (2000). Dams and Development. Earthscan, London, UK. 404 pages.

Zimmermann, R.C. (1992). Environmental impact of forestry. Guidelines for its assessment in developing countries. FAO Conservation Guide 7.




Additional Conservation Actions: A broad range of activities that are intended to benefit biodiversity, wherethe effects or outcomes can be difficult to quantify. (Biodiversity A to Z)


Avoidance: Measures taken to prevent impacts from occurring in the first place, for instance by changing oradjusting the development project’s location and/or the scope, nature, and timing of its activities. (Glossary (2012), BBOP)


Baseline: A description of existing conditions to provide a starting point (e.g. pre-project condition ofbiodiversity) against which comparisons can be made (e.g. post-impact condition of biodiversity), allowing the change to be quantified. (Glossary (2012), BBOP)


Biological diversity: The variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial,marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. (Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992)


Biological resources: The genetic resources, organisms or parts thereof, populations, or any other bioticcomponent of ecosystems with actual or potential use or value for humanity. (Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992)


Biodiversity element: Genes, species, or ecosystems, as used by the Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD) definition of biodiversity. (A Global Standard for the Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas (2016), IUCN)


Biodiversity loss: Biodiversity loss is usually observed as one or all of: (1) reduced area occupied bypopulations, species, and community types, (2) loss of populations and the genetic diversity they contribute to the whole species, and (3) reduced abundance (of populations and species) or condition (of communities and ecosystems). The likelihood of any biodiversity component persisting (the persistence probability) in the long term declines with lower abundance and genetic diversity and reduced habitat area. (Glossary (2012), BBOP)


Biodiversity offsets: Biodiversity offsets are measurable conservation outcomes resulting from actionsdesigned to compensate for significant residual adverse biodiversity impacts arising from project development after appropriate mitigation measures have been taken. The goal of biodiversity offsets is to achieve no net loss and preferably a net gain of biodiversity on the ground with respect to species composition, habitat structure, and ecosystem function, and people’s use and cultural values associated with biodiversity. (Glossary (2012), BBOP)


Conservation outcome: A conservation outcome is the result of a conservation intervention aimedat addressing direct threats to biodiversity or their underlying socio-political, cultural, and/or economic causes. Conservation outcomes are typically in the form of: (a) extinctions avoided (i.e. outcomes that lead to improvements in a species’ national or global threat status); (b) sites protected (i.e. outcomes that lead to designation of a site as a formal or informal protection area, or to improvement in the management effectiveness of an existing protected area); and (c) corridors created (i.e. outcomes that lead to the creation of interconnected networks of sites at the landscape scale, capable of maintaining intact biotic assemblages and natural processes, and, thereby, enhancing the long-term viability of natural ecosystems). Conservation outcomes would also include any other intervention that leads to conservation gains. (Glossary (2012), BBOP)


Critical habitat: A number of lending institutions have recently defined ‘critical habitat’, accompanied byconditions for clients whose projects may impact upon it. Common themes mentioned by these definitions include threatened species, endemic or geographically restricted species, congregations of migratory and other species, assemblages that support key processes or services, and biodiversity of social, economic, or cultural value. Examples of definitions include the following:


  1. Critical habitats are areas with high biodiversity value, including (i) habitat of significant importance to Critically Endangered and/or Endangered species; (ii) habitat of significant importance to endemic and/or restricted-range species; (iii) habitat supporting globally significant concentrations of migratory species and/or congregatory species; (iv) highly threatened and/or unique ecosystems; and/or (v) areas associated with key evolutionary processes. This definition adds in a footnote that ‘Critically Endangered and/or Endangered species’ are as listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The determination of critical habitat based on other listings is as follows: (i) If the species is listed nationally/regionally as critically endangered or endangered, in countries that have adhered to IUCN guidance, the critical habitat determination will be made on a project-by-project basis in consultation with competent professionals; and (ii) In instances where nationally or regionally listed species’ categorisations do not correspond well to those of IUCN (e.g., some countries more generally list species as ‘protected’ or ‘restricted’), an assessment will be conducted to determine the rationale and purpose of the listing. In this case, the critical habitat determination will be based on such an assessment. (IFC Performance Standard 6, January 2012)


  1. Irrespective of whether it is natural or modified, some habitat may be considered to be critical by virtue of (i) its high biodiversity value, (ii) its importance to the survival of endangered or critically endangered species, (iii) its importance to endemic or geographically restricted species and sub-species, (iv) its importance to migratory or congregatory species, (v) its role in supporting assemblages of species associated with key evolutionary processes, (vi) its role in supporting biodiversity of significant social, economical, or cultural importance to local communities, or (vii) its importance to species that are vital to the ecosystem as a whole (keystone species). (EBRD Environmental and Social Policy, 12 May 2008)


Cumulative impact: The total impact arising from the project (under the control of the developer); otheractivities (that may be under the control of others, including other developers, local communities, government), and other background pressures and trends which may be unregulated. The project’s impact is therefore one part of the total cumulative impact on the environment. The analysis of a project’s incremental impacts combined with the effects of other projects can often give a more accurate understanding of the likely results of the project’s presence than just considering its impacts in isolation. (Glossary (2012), BBOP)


Direct impact: An outcome directly attributable to a defined action or project activity (often also called primaryimpact). (Glossary (2012), BBOP)


Ecosystem: A dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-livingenvironment interacting as a functional unit. (Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992)


Ecosystem services: The benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include provisioning services suchas food, water, timber, and fibre; regulating services that affect climate, floods, disease, wastes, and water quality; cultural services that provide recreational, aesthetic, and spiritual benefits; and supporting services such as soil formation, photosynthesis, and nutrient cycling. (Glossary (2012), BBOP)


Go/No Go: The decision as to whether a project should proceed or not, usually taken by regulators and/orcompanies prior to project inception and based on a complex dialogue involving a range of stakeholders and concerns, of which impacts on biodiversity are only one. A ‘No Go’ decision may be taken because a project is not suitable for reasons other than its impacts on biodiversity. Equally, a project with a very significant, non-offsetable impact on biodiversity may still result in a ‘Go’ decision based on other benefits (such as needed infrastructure, jobs, or development), considered to outweigh its environmental costs. (Glossary (2012), BBOP)


Habitat: The place or type of site where an organism or population naturally occurs. (Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992)


High Conservation Value area: High Conservation Value areas are critical areas in a landscape which needto be appropriately managed in order to maintain or enhance High Conservation Values (HCVs). There are six main types of HCV area, based on the definition originally developed by the Forest Stewardship Council for certification of forest ecosystems. (HCV Resource Network Charter (2015), HCV Resource Network)


Indirect impacts: Indirect impacts (sometimes called secondary impacts or induced impacts), are impactstriggered in response to the presence of the project, rather than being directly caused by the project’s own operations. For instance, the presence of a project such as an oil and gas facility may lead to an increased local workforce and associated increases in demand for food. This may have knock-on effects on biodiversity, for example due to increased land conversion for farming or increased levels of hunting. Indirect impacts may reach outside project boundaries and may begin before or extend beyond a project’s lifecycle. Indirect impacts should be predicted with a thorough Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process that includes biodiversity issues and explicitly links environmental and social issues, although there is a risk that the potential for such impacts may not be identified until later in the project cycle. As a general rule, indirect impacts are more difficult to map and quantify than direct impacts. (Glossary (2012), BBOP)


Like-for-like or better: A common approach to biodiversity offsets is to require conservation (through thebiodiversity offset) of the same type of biodiversity as that affected by the project. This is known as ‘like-for-like’. This is sometimes modified to ‘like-for-like or better’, in which the offset conserves components of biodiversity that are a higher conservation priority (for example because they are more irreplaceable and vulnerable) than those affected by the development project for which the offset is envisaged. This is also known as ‘trading up’. (Glossary (2012), BBOP)


Monitoring: Activities undertaken after the decision is made to adopt the plan, programme, or project toexamine its implementation. For example, monitoring to examine whether the significant environmental effects occur as predicted or to establish whether mitigation measures are implemented. (Glossary (2012), BBOP)


No net loss/Net gain: A target for a development project in which the impacts on biodiversity caused bythe project are balanced or outweighed by measures taken to avoid and minimise the project’s impacts, to undertake on-site restoration, and finally to offset the residual impacts, so that no loss remains. Where the gain exceeds the loss, the term ‘net gain’ may be used instead of no net loss. No net loss (or net gain) of biodiversity is a policy goal in several countries, and is also the goal of voluntary biodiversity offsets. (Glossary(2012), BBOP)


Protected area: A protected area is a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated, andmanaged, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values. (Guidelines for Appling Protected Areas Management Categories (2008), IUCN)


Residual impact: The remaining adverse impact on biodiversity after appropriate avoidance, minimisation,and rehabilitation measures have been taken according to the mitigation hierarchy. (Glossary (2012), BBOP)


Restoration: The process of assisting the recovery of an area or ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged,or destroyed. The aim of ecological restoration is to re-establish the ecosystem’s composition, structure, and function, usually bringing it back to its original (pre-disturbance) state or to a healthy state close to the original. An ecosystem is restored when it contains sufficient biotic and abiotic resources to sustain itself structurally and functionally and can continue its development without further assistance or subsidy. It will demonstrate resilience to normal ranges of environmental stress and disturbance and interact with contiguous ecosystems in terms of biotic and abiotic flows and cultural interactions. Ecological restoration strives to alter the biota and physical conditions at a site, and is frequently confused with rehabilitation. While restoration aims to return an ecosystem to a former natural condition, rehabilitation implies putting the landscape to a new or altered use to serve a particular human purpose. Activities such as ecological engineering and various kinds of resource management, including wildlife, fisheries and range management, agroforestry, and forestry may qualify as ecological restoration if they satisfy the criteria set out by the Society for Ecological Restoration. This Society lists nine attributes as a basis for determining when restoration has been accomplished. (Society for Ecological Restoration)


Thresholds: Numeric or percentage minima which determine whether the presence of a biodiversity elementat a site is significant enough for the site to be considered a KBA under a given criterion or sub-criterion. (A Global Standard for the Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas (2016), IUCN)


Trading up: Conserving, through an offset, components of biodiversity that are a higher conservation priority(for example because they are more irreplaceable and vulnerable) than those affected by the development project for which the offset is envisaged. (Glossary (2012), BBOP)


Trigger: A biodiversity element (e.g. species or ecosystem) by which at least one KBA criterion and associatedthreshold is met. (A Global Standard for the Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas (2016), IUCN)