Biodiversity Action Plans
For companies with land-holdings or activities that impact on ecosystems
and habitats, the most effective means of managing biodiversity
is through developing site Biodiversity Action Plans (site BAPs).
Separate plans should be drawn-up for each site, and should be linked
with local and national biodiversity priorities as well as the overall
company BAP (CBAP)
In addition to assisting companies in managing their land holdings
to benefit biodiversity, the process of developing and implementing
a site BAP can be a useful mechanism for raising employee awareness
about biodiversity, gaining stakeholder trust and buy-in, providing
training and motivation for staff to become involved in the process
and demonstrating what a company is undertaking for the local environment
and community. A tool which has been developed for companies managing
sites is the Wildlife
A five-step framework for developing and implementing site specific
BAP’s is outlined below.
1. Securing Internal Support
Top level endorsement of and commitment to the site BAP are essential
for the process to succeed. In making the case to the board, proponents
will need to present relevant drivers and benefits of the site BAP.
While it is often difficult to place a monetary value on the benefits
of site BAPs, there will be numerous positive effects such as improved
community relations and staff morale and reduced risk to the license
to operate. It is therefore useful to work with other departments,
such as public relations or human resources, to implement and advertise
the full benefits of site BAPs.
Implementation of a site BAP will also require support from management
at the site. Managers need to be aware of biodiversity targets in
order to plan adjustments to operations. For instance, changing
mowing regimes may require associated public awareness raising strategies
to reduce criticism of a site’s visual appeal. Involvement
through incorporating actions into job specifications secures long-term
commitment to site BAPs.
Involving staff can positively
contribute to the process of developing a site BAP and subsequently
carrying out actions and monitoring activities. Site BAP activities
can be written into individual job objectives or be encouraged as
special interest voluntary activities. For instance at Center Parcs
70% of the monitoring is carried out by volunteer staff.
Many companies have found that a biodiversity ‘champion,’
someone who is the designated lead on biodiversity activities, can
be invaluable in driving the development, implementation and monitoring
of a site BAP.
2. Drawing up the Site BAP
Site BAPs need to be realistic. It is easy to under-estimate financial,
time and human resource requirements, particularly at the onset
of creating a site BAP. Using existing information helps save on
costs and identifies overlaps between a company’s objectives
and biodiversity targets while setting and reviewing priorities
in consultation with stakeholders ensures realistic expectations.
Drawing up a site BAP begins by conducting a survey of biodiversity
around a site. The industry standard is to collect data within a
two kilometre radius of a site centre using the Extended Phase
1 Habitat Surveying technique
The method provides a snap-shot of which species are present, and
a desk study is often sufficient to identify whether a site includes
protected species. While Extended Phase 1 Habitat surveys can be
undertaken throughout the year, it is preferable to conduct surveys
in the summer when more species can be seen and identified. Experts
should not only be knowledgeable in the local natural environment,
but also connected to the community. For a comprehensive list of
environmental consultants within the UK, visit Ends
Following the survey, classification of a site aims to identify
priorities for conservation. Companies are legally bound to identify
and protect certain species and some sites may have statutory classification,
such as SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), applied to them.
Expert advice may be useful to help identify legal conservation
requirements: Local BAP practitioners, Wildlife Trusts, Ecology
Consultants, and specialist NGOs will usually be aware of the status
of national and local priority species and habitats as well as protected
Planning the action plan
While management plans are usually needed for larger or more diverse
sites, a ‘brief’ may be sufficient for smaller or less
diverse sites. Regardless of the format selected for the management
plan, setting targets in a site BAP is important in order to monitor
biodiversity and identify when actions need to be taken. Many companies
find that incrementally integrating the process into their Environmental
Management System (EMS) is the best way to achieve these objectives.
3. Stakeholder Involvement
A central feature of the site BAP process is the involvement of
partners as stakeholders in the planning process and as resources
in the implementation and monitoring phases. The local
BAP partnership will have information about biodiversity priorities
as well as relevant conservation organisations and potential BAP
partners in the area.
Stakeholders include local, regional and national government, the
local community, local Biodiversity Partnerships as well as employees
who are or need to be involved in the site BAP process. Each type
of organisation has its strengths and weaknesses and it is important
to assess the need of the company when selecting partner organisations.
Companies find working with partners easier if they build partnerships
with organisations that have similar cultures, match site BAP needs
to the skills of groups, provide support and offer some rewards
for work done. Support need not be in the form of cash but could
involve publicity, training or the donating of equipment such as
simple tools. For more on stakeholder involvement visit the Stakeholder
Implementing and Monitoring Site BAPs
Implementation of a site BAP is an ongoing process that involves
monitoring throughout the year, draws attention to issues as they
arise, and identifies new species which were not present at the
time of the initial survey. Any changes to species or habitat should
be reflected in the ecological survey report and assessed against
the targets set out in the site BAP with adjustments made to actions
Ongoing monitoring is an effective means of gathering data about
species and in order to assess the effects of a site BAP on the
habitat, a site will require re-surveying. Many company sites are
subject to continuous development and changes affecting habitats
which may not have been accounted for in the original site BAP.
Biodiversity outcomes of actions like rehabilitation are often long
term and the results may not be seen for several years. It has therefore
been recommend that surveys be repeated once every ten years or
on 10 – 15% of a company’s land holdings each year.
Updating the site BAP with Local BAP priorities is an important
part of this process. The Local BAP page on the UK
BAP web site can be used to identify the local BAP priorities.
Monitoring need not be a complex process, and some companies suggest
using Local Biodiversity Action Plans (LBAPs) as a starting point
and to create a simple database or spreadsheet to record and monitor
quantitative information. Even though levels of a species will fluctuate,
specifying minimum targets for a given species at a particular time
will highlight when action is needed for a specific species.
Also, the UK
Biodiversity Action Reporting System (BARS) is a web-based information
system that supports the planning, monitoring and reporting requirements
of national, local and company Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs).
Everyone working on BAPs at national and local levels can maintain
their data in a secure environment and integrate it across users
and organisations to provide an overview of BAP progress for each
species and habitat and at different geographical scales. For more
information click here.
5. Communicating and reporting
One of the ways in which a company can obtain positive value from
a site BAP is through internally and externally communicating the
progress. A company’s image and reputation may benefit from
what has been acheived by holding talks or walks for the community,
issuing press releases or convening meetings of local stakeholders.
Newsletters, intranet, presentations or guided walks are effective
means through which a company can inform and involve staff. Finally,
if a company has an EMS or issues an Environmental Report, the site
BAP should be reported through these systems. Reaping the full benefits
of a site BAP will involve developing an accompanying communications
strategy. See the Monitoring
and Reporting page.
Photo Credit: Mark Cherrington/ Earthwatch