In line with BBOP guidance and IFC Performance Standard 6, Ambatovy has developed a multi-faceted offset program comprising several sites and associated activities. This was deemed necessary given the large scope of our operations, part of which fall within sensitive high-biodiversity areas.
Mine Conservation Forests
The Mine Conservation Zone (CZ) is made up of two parcels of azonal forest and the zonal forest surrounding it. The two parcels of azonal forest overlapping the ore body have been set aside and will not be mined, despite the valuable nickel lying beneath them. The combined area of these two parcels is approximately 300 ha. During the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, these azonal forest habitats were considered to be a rare habitat type compared to the more typical zonal forests of the Eastern Forest Corridor. The transitional and zonal forests dedicated to conservation is around 3300 ha. The conservation zone (4828.53 ha) provides a buffer for receiving the fauna leaving the Mine footprint and serves as a seed bank to facilitate the ecological restoration of the Mine footprint.
Ankerana is the off-site offset. It is an intact area of low-to-medium altitude forest lying 70 km to the northeast of the Mine and is included in the Ankeniheny-Zahamena Corridor (CAZ). The area is continuously threatened by local activities, such as slash-and- burn agriculture and poaching. However, since we began our work in Ankerana in 2011, the number of documented threats has significantly declined. The site has a total surface area of approximately 8 000 ha, of which 6 800 ha serve as a core protection zone. We work closely with the communities on the outskirts of this offset site through education programs and through support for the COBA (Base Communities) organizations to ensure that our efforts to protect and maintain the delicate ecosystem continue beyond our operations. Eight COBAs were created in 2017 to continue to strengthen the protection of the Ankerana Forest’s resources. Ambatovy works Conservation International, the CAZ protected area site manager, and local NGO in managing the protection of the Ankerana Forest, bringing valuable expertise to our biodiversity management.
Torotorofotsy Wetlands Ramsar Site
The Torotorofotsy Wetlands lie immediately to the east of the Mine and cover 10,064 ha of wetlands, forest and other habitats. In 2006, Torotorofotsy was classified as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. We support local community associations by reinforcing management capacity and sharing activities that help stop marsh transformation and degradation. The day-to-day management of the Torotorofotsy Wetlands is done by Asity Madagascar, the Torotorofotsy protected area site manager (an affiliate of BirdLife International, the world leader in bird conservation) and supported by Ambatovy. Works conducted by Asity enable Ambatovy to gain an understanding of the range of biodiversity within the wetlands.
The success of Torotorofotsy as an offset site and the sustainability of its protection status will only be successful with the participation of the communities surrounding it, and we are working closely with local communities to promote community level participation in the conservation and management activities. We also work with these communities on income generating activities in order to alleviate the community members’ pressure on forest resources and promote environmental resource management.