The Natural Forest Standard is designed to be used in large areas of natural forest which are at risk from deforestation and degradation. Because these forests are likely to have high ecological significance, the biodiversity management element of the project is vital in ensuring the project has a positive impact. The biodiversity section of the management plan should be consistent with good practice for the project region and consider the applicability of guidance issued by the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Global Invasive Species Programme, and Forest Trends.
The project should ensure that there is ‘no net loss of biodiversity’ arising from the project’s existence in comparison with a baseline situation without the project. To achieve this, the standard requires projects to take appropriate measures to protect existing biodiversity within the project zone. The biodiversity policy of the project shall be informed by an understanding of the ecosystems and species present within and around the project area, and the likely causes of biodiversity loss. The Standard requires that project proponents should provide:
- A descriptive summary of important endemic flora and fauna within the project area.
- A summary of the threats facing the endemic species of the project area.
- A description of the habitat loss mitigation activities of the project designed to mitigate these threats to the biodiversity.
The project’s biodiversity impacts should be assessed using the Normative Biodiversity Metric.
Threats to Biodiversity
Threats to biodiversity within the project area should be documented. This section provides some guidance examples for how the project may mitigate identified threats to biodiversity. There are three mitigation examples outlined below. There may be other threats within the project area; and these should be identified, documented and addressed where appropriate. The information gathered in these categories, and the extent of the measures implemented by the project to mitigate potential threats should be recorded in the management plan.
Habitat loss is generally agreed to be the biggest driver of global biodiversity loss (Slingenberg, A et. al. 2009) and may be covered by descriptions of deforestation risk used in relation to the carbon benefits.
Invasive alien species are also considered to be a globally significant threat to biodiversity, according to the Global Invasive Species Programme. With regards to invasive species, the project should consider the following three management stages of the GISP Invasive Alien Species Toolkit:
- Prevent the release and spread of non-native animal and plant species into areas where they can cause damage to native species and habitats and to economic interests;
- Ensure a rapid response to new populations can be undertaken; and
- Ensure effective control and eradication measures can be carried out when problem situations arise.
For more guidance on invasive species management review, the referenced GISP publication and the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD) whose research in this area may guide the project approach.
Bushmeat in tropical and sub-tropical forests is often an important source of food for forest communities (Nasi 2008). The disappearance of wildlife as a consequence of over-harvesting of wildlife can have a serious impact on the well-being of forest communities. The CBD (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity 2011) recommends that the key to mitigating the over-harvesting of bushmeat is to focus on the trade in bushmeat, not subsistence consumption. The majority of NFS projects are likely to be based in developing countries located in tropical and sub-tropical areas, which means managing and mitigating bushmeat trade within project areas will be critical to ensuring that the project achieves a ‘no net loss’ of biodiversity. The diversification of income sources within local communities has been found to be the most successful way to reduce bushmeat trade and over-hunting. The hypothesis being that hunters will stop hunting only if a more lucrative activity is available; this has been applied in a number of different projects: Successful examples include:
- Bee-keeping initiatives in Cameroon
- Bead-making in Kenya
- Fair trade agriculture in Ecuador
- Improving domestic livestock productivity
- Community-based wildlife management and tourism
- Working together with local farmers to minimise the burning of crop residues or natural areas
Where the project seeks to enable alternative livelihood activities, this shall be with the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the community involved in the project, and it should consider potential negative impacts on certain groups within the area (e.g. women, non-landowning groups or minorities) and aim to avoid negative social impacts.
Where there are development projects planned for local communities, or there is anticipated to be a large inflow of resources into the project area as a consequence of the project, the project shall assess what effects this will have on biodiversity within and around the project area. For example, the building of new transport infrastructure could have negative effects on biodiversity as new areas become accessible to hunters and loggers. The project shall seek to ensure that the effect on biodiversity is minimised. Where a development project is expected to impact significantly on biodiversity a biodiversity impact assessment should be carried out. For more guidance on this process, see Forest Trends guidance on biodiversity impact assessment (Richards, M. and Panfil, S.N., 2011).
Jarrett, D, 2011. Assessing Organisational Biodiversity Performance. Available at: https://ecometrica-cms-media.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/media/pdf/assessing_organisational_performance.pdf
Nasi, R., Brown, D., Wilkie, D., Bennett, E., Tutin, C., van Tol, G., and Christophersen, T. (2008). Conservation and use of wildlife-based resources: the bushmeat crisis. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Montreal, and Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor. Technical Series no. 33, 50 pages.
Richards, M. and Panfil, S.N., 2011.Social and Biodiversity Impact Assessment (SBIA) Manual for REDD+ Projects: Part 1 – Core Guidance for Project Proponents. Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance, Forest Trends, Fauna & Flora International, and Rainforest Alliance. Washington, DC.
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2011.Livelihood Alternatives for the Unsustainable use of Bushmeat. Technical Series No. 60, Montreal, SCBD. Available at: https://www.cbd.int/doc/publications/cbd-ts-60-en.pdf
Slingenberg, A et. al. 2009. Study on understanding the causes of biodiversity loss and the policy assessment framework. European Commission. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/enveco/biodiversity/pdf/causes_biodiv_loss.pdf
Global Invasive Species Database. Available at: https://www.issg.org/database/welcome/