Monitoring, Reporting and Communicating
Any plan needs to be monitored to ensure that it progresses towards
its intended outcomes. This ensures efficient management of the
programme and provides a means to communicate initiatives and achievements.
Companies need to establish systems for tracking how their biodiversity
action plans are being implemented, if targets are being met and
whether the overall biodiversity objectives are being acheived.
There are two approaches for assessing performance:
• Monitoring and evaluating management activities and actions
against targets. For instance, a target could be to run employee
awareness raising initiatives. Reporting the number employees informed
about biodiversity could be used as an indicator rather than reporting
on actual biodiversity outcomes.
• Monitoring outcomes of specific activities using biodiversity
indicators. Such outcomes can be difficult to gage, mainly because
the very nature of biodiversity is that it fluctuates naturally
over time and seasons, and that wildlife/animals are obviously mobile.
However, monitoring biodiversity directly by using indicators can
show actual impacts of actions and activities rather than just measurements
of the process.
Environmental and/or sustainability reporting can help to build
business value through the 'triple bottom line' delivering long-term
value to a company. Reporting also serves as an important internal
management tool, helping to ensure transparency, identify opportunities
and minimise risks. Reporting openly to stakeholders can improve
a company’s reputation and drive better performance through
feedback and reviews.
There are essentially three routes for reporting on biodiversity
initiatives and achievements:
• Becoming certified, for example through an acknowledged
scheme such as ISO
or attaining the Wildlife
Trust’s Biodiversity Benchmark
• By following a framework for reporting, such as the Global
Reporting Initiative or responding to one of the indexes on
environmental performance, such as the Business
in the Community Index of Corporate Responsibility.
• Through developing an independent reporting mechanism, such
as a web-site on biodiversity activities or data.
In the UK, the Government has been encouraging businesses to publish
reports on their environmental performance and DEFRA has published
of guidelines on how to produce a good quality environmental
report. The Operating
Financial Review requires directors of to prepare annual operating
and financial reviews providing an analysis of the development and
performance of a company including non-financial information such
as environmental, social and community matters. The Turnbull
Report on Corporate Governance (1999) requires publicly listed
companies to disclose processes for addressing significant risks.
Since July 2000, occupational pension funds have been required to
disclose the extent to which they take environmental, social and
ethical considerations into account in their investment decisions.
Transparency: progress on global sustainability reporting 2004
provides an overview of sustainability reporting around the world,
identifying a number of trends and challenges while calling for
improvements in coverage, standards and credibility. For reporting
news, information, legal requirements and a wide selection of corporate
reports from around the world see The International
Corporate Environmental Reporting Site.
Targets will need periodic review as conditions change and for
this reason, it is important that the outcomes of monitoring exercises
are shared with other groups which may be able to help interpret
and analyse data. For instance, a change in the population of a
particular bird or butterfly could be due to off-site activities,
in which case a company which has committed to maintain that population
needs to work with others to assess appropriate action.
There remains much which is unknown about nature and so absolute
numeric indicators may not be useful if a company is faced with
new discoveries about a species either on its site or elsewhere.
You should constantly review your approach to biodiversity to ensure
that it is not only delivering gains for habitats and species but
also that it also yields value for your business.
4. Communicating more widely
The key to maximising the value of biodiversity initiatives for
your company's external reputation and internal culture is communication.
By allocating resources in this area you can effectively gear the
time and money you have already put into developing and implementing
your BAP. To yield long term benefits, what you are communicating
must be credible and visible on the ground.
Tell people what you are doing for biodiversity - starting with
your own staff. Consider what mechanisms are appropriate for your
organisation - a staff briefing/presentation, a leaflet desk drop,
an article in an existing staff publication, a company wide email,
your intranet systems and notice boards are some of the possibilities.
For external communication you may wish to consider a dedicated
leaflet or brochure, or utilise existing media such as your environmental
reporting vehicle or company website. You can also consider articles
within the magazines, leaflets websites of any of the partner organisations
involved in your biodiversity initiatives.
To reach a wider audience for larger scale initiatives, you might
want to engage the media. The press, especially local press, are
often looking for stories with a wildlife edge. Television and radio
can hit a wider audience but to engage them you may need a topical
story or a personality with a national profile. This is where biodiversity
initiatives with links to prominent names, for example by supporting
certain charities, can pay dividends. A more focused approach may
be of value when communicating your Company BAP to key stakeholders
such as local communities, statutory bodies (e.g. English
Nature) or Government. Meetings and site visits to your biodiversity
initiatives may be particularly effective in demonstrating your
biodiversity programmes and how they will benefit wildlife.
Timing is everything. Phasing the publication of your efforts to
demonstrate the improvements you are making will both show the changes
you are bringing about and help to maintain the momentum of the
story. Linking the process to key aspects of your business, for
example new developments, may boost the value of the initiative
and improve publicity opportunities.
Photo Credit: Peter Wakely/ English Nature