The Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program

Ambatovy’s biodiversity offsets program was implemented as a pilot project within the framework of the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP), a voluntary partnership between companies and conservation experts that developed an international framework for the design and implementation of biodiversity offsets, particularly for use in developing countries lacking their own offsets policies and legislation. At the end of December 2018, the BBOP program was officially ended, however we continue to follow the BBOP principles of no net loss as well as applying the mitigation hierarchy. Learn more about our involvement in BBOP by reading this case study.

The Mitigation Hierarchy

Ambatovy’s application of the mitigation hierarchy, consists of the following steps:

  • The Pipeline was designed to avoid environmentally sensitive areas;
  • Barriers have been created to isolate onsite conservation areas from mining activities;
  • Strict protocols are followed regarding any proposed changes to the Mine

Ambatovy is decreasing its impact through optimized planning that reduces the Mine footprint.

Ambatovy has developed a substantial impact mitigation program that includes:

  • Repetition of full biological surveys prior to each clearing to develop taxa-specific mitigation measures, e.g. identifying plant species of concern and locating them offsite to avoid the risk of extinction; salvaging plants to nurseries and/or propagating them;
  • Directional and slow-paced forest clearance, which allows mobile fauna to migrate away from impacted areas to adjacent refuge areas. For the less mobile fauna, manual salvaging is used to help them migrate towards safe conservation zones. A crew of more than 65 expertly trained technicians identifies and salvages all small mammals, stranded lemurs, certain birds, and reptiles. Experts, primarily Malagasy biologists from various universities and non-governmental organizations, supervise the salvaging process. Relocated animals are subsequently monitored in the refuge areas;
  • Use of large retention dams to manage total suspended solids to protect water quality and aquatic biodiversity in Mine watersheds.

Ambatovy conducts progressive footprint rehabilitation consistent with the historical ecology of the landscape. Forest connectivity in specific areas is being re-established through targeted reforestation activities aimed at linking and integrating the remaining forests into a fully functioning ecosystem.

  • Mine Footprint

Ambatovy will restore a multifunctional forest on the Mine’s footprint through progressive revegetation. The habitat restoration program, started in 2015, has been designed in close consultation with local stakeholders. An industrial-scale production nursery is operated as part of this plan, complimented by community nurseries. A research nursery, devoted to experimenting with a variety of species and cultivation methods, helps to identify optimal conditions for successful rehabilitation.

  • Pipeline

The Pipeline avoids native forests wherever possible, passes underneath waterways, and only passes through near-primary zonal forest within the first two km of the Mine Site. The forest in the two forest km is restored and residual impacts are accounted for the biodiversity offsets program.

Ambatovy’s multifaceted biodiversity offsets program comprises a series of conservation areas, with a total area approximately 9x the size of the Mine area, considered to be biodiversity offsets, or “like for like,” including on-site offsets and one off-site offset. Information for the offset sites can be found here.