Identifying mining sites close to KBAs

Identifying mining sites close to KBAs

Guidelines for Business Activities: Responsibility for existing operations

Context: A cement company has 425 mining sites in Europe and Central Asia, and has adopted corporate targets to ‘deliver a prominent positive contribution to biodiversity’. Given the large number of sites and the need to prioritise, the company decided to identify which sites were close to or within Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), which are also recognised as global or regional KBAs, and make these the first focus of biodiversity management.


  • Without proper planning and management, mining in the vicinity of KBAs may have a negative impact leading to the reduction or loss of key biodiversity features at these sites across Europe and Central Asia.

Responses: at this stage, mainly research to identify the most important sites, followed by planning to minimise potential damage:

  • GIS-supported analysis, which helped to identify how close mines were to KBAs.
  • Development of a biodiversity interaction score, calculated from a mixture of proximity to sites and the number of sites involved.
  • Assessment of the opportunity for biodiversity action, calculated by taking into account size of the mine or quarry, whether biodiversity management or an action plan is already in place, experience with biodiversity projects, and status of the operation (not yet started, active, or finished).
  • Division of sites into four categories (high opportunity, high interaction; high opportunity, low interaction; low opportunity, high interaction; and low opportunity, low interaction).
  • Development of further action plans suggested to address gaps.
  • Implementation of action plans.
  • Development of species-focused projects in cases where IBA trigger species may benefit from quarry habitats.

In all, 153 operations were found to be taking place within 1 km of an IBA, or global or national protected areas. Further, just under half of all active mining sites had biodiversity management plans.

The project is a partnership between BirdLife International and HeidelbergCement