Pressures on biodiversity and ecosystem services in sub-Saharan Africa are leading to a loss of ecosystem resilience that is impacting not only biodiversity but local livelihoods and agricultural sustainability. As well as working to enhance the capacity of individuals and institutions in biodiversity conservation, the Tropical Biology Association (TBA) is working in partnership with business to address some of the challenging issues facing agricultural landscapes and the ecosystems they depend upon.
TBA has been part of The British American Tobacco Biodiversity Partnership since it was first formed in 2001, alongside two other international NGOs, Fauna and Flora International and Earthwatch Institute and British American Tobacco. Developing and implementing on-the-ground solutions, tools and training, TBA is working with the Partners to help businesses better understand and manage their impacts and reliance on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Read here for the Partnership’s key achievements www.batbiodiversity.org
A BATBP event was held on Wednesday 16th November at Painters’ Hall, London which brought together those interested in looking at landscape level approaches, and the tools available, to help business better manage and understand its impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The evening began with a reception, followed by a panel debate, chaired by Tony Juniper (Sustainability Expert). Rosie Trevelyan (Director, Tropical Biology Association) joined experts representing NGOs, business and academic perspectives and included: Kathy Willis (Director, Biodiversity Institute, University of Oxford); Matt Jones (Senior Programme Officer, UNEP-WCMC); Jim Kirke (Leaf Sustainability Manager, BAT), and Alan Knight (Corporate Sustainability Expert). The BATBP shared information about the Biodiversity Risk and Opportunity Assessment (BROA) Tool which they have developed, and a demonstration of the tool was lead by TBA. BATBP have made the BROA (freely) publicly available for others to use. For more information about this event please go to www.batbiodiversity.org .
Forty percent of habitable land on earth is currently occupied by agriculture. Expected increases in global population and consequential rise in demand for food, fibres and biofuels will require both further expansion and an intensification of agricultural land. At TBA we realise that conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems cannot be left only to formally protected conservation areas. It is important to engage within business to ensure that biodiversity and ecosystem services, outside such protected areas is better understood and managed. This is especially important given local communities and livelihoods often depend on a wide range of ecosystem services that are often impacted by agricultural expansion.
The Partnership does not endorse of BAT’s products or business but it engages with BAT to improve standards and awareness of biodiversity and conservation management. BAT provides, for example, direct agronomy support to approximately 160,000 tobacco leaf growers across 19 countries, most of whom are small-scale farmers operating in developing countries. This direct link which BAT has with farmers provides a unique opportunity to both directly and indirectly affect the behaviour of these growers and the company for the benefit of biodiversity.
TBA is also able to inform and influence through this partnership. It provides horizon scanning for the Partnership’s board to raise awareness of critical, emerging issues in conservation. TBA collaborates with its Partners to promote greater dialogue with other agri-businesses, particularly those with supply chains to take a landscape approach to tackling their reliance on biodiversity.
TBA is provided with secure and long-term funding for TBA's conservation priorities. This enables young conservation scientists and managers to better manage and conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services in sub-Saharan Africa, through an extensive programme of training, support and mentoring www.tropical-biology.org
The Partnership also enables TBA to tackle complex issues to help improve biodiversity conservation management, awareness and develop tools for agricultural landscapes in developing countries. This work draws on TBA’s extensive network of expertise, uses a very collaborative approach and works closely with its local in-country partners who also gain from engaging directly with business to tackle critical conservation issues.
Working in Partnership achieves far more than one single company could alone. TBA is still learning as this Partnership progresses but collaborating with business, local conservation partners, local communities, farmers and other agri-business to tackle critical biodiversity issues within agricultural landscapes has to be a positive step for biodiversity.
Working closely with its other partners TBA has developed/co-developed the following tools to help agri-businesses better understand and assess biodiversity risks and impacts.
Helping companies address their impacts and reliance on biodiversity and ecosystem services, the BROA Tool encourages multi-stakeholder engagement and consultation to get companies to look beyond their immediate impacts to wider trends in the landscape that they operate.
BROA helps identify and prioritise risks in a clear and comprehensive step-by-step process; it helps them identify opportunities for biodiversity. The user is guided through the steps, including guidance on field surveys, terms of reference for engaging a conservation partner/NGO and training support guidance. The BROA Tool produces a clear, set of action and monitoring plans to address biodiversity impacts and build greater resilience in agricultural landscapes.
The Tool has been implemented in over 20 BAT leaf growing operations across the globe with the support of the BATBP partners. TBA helped develop and trial the BROA Tool initially in Uganda. Along with the other Partners, it has provided BROA training and technical advice to BAT’s leaf growing companies as they used BROA. The BATBP’s work on BROA has been cited in The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, 2011 TEEB. The Partnership is also sharing its work through forums, such as IUCN, Korea, Roundtables, and relevant international conferences.
This Tool has now been refined and is freely available to other agricultural companies, particularly those with supply chains. To download a free version click on: www.batbiodiversity.org/Tools
As part of the BATBP programme of work TBA has developed a Tool to monitor and assess freshwater quality. This field-based tool helps users assess water quality quickly and easily. It does not require detailed taxonomic knowledge or elaborate chemical testing that main freshwater indicator tools demand. It was developed in partnership with a leading freshwater expert and a Ugandan freshwater expert. The tool helps the user determine possible sources of pollution on adjacent land and recommends mitigating actions.
This tool has been trialled extensively in Uganda and has been incorporated into BAT Uganda’s monitoring of freshwater resources throughout its leaf growing operations. The Tool has also been shared and trialled by BAT field staff in Lombok, Indonesia.
“Water of suitable quality and quantity is essential to the maintenance of biodiversity and also paramount to the long-term sustainability of agricultural activities and local livelihoods”.
For more information on this tool or a free version, please contact TBA.
TBA has developed a number of training modules for business, to help their staff better understand biodiversity and the business case for ecosystem resilience within the agricultural landscape. TBA lead in developing an online biodiversity training module which has is accessible to all BAT’s across the globe. Furthermore, through its BATBP supported training programme TBA is providing tailored workshops for conservation managers, biologists, agro-forestry managers.
TBA is addressing, through the BATBP, biodiversity management and improving the resilience of mixed agricultural landscapes in western and northern Uganda. It has been collaborating with BAT Uganda for a number of years to help it company improve its understanding and management of biodiversity impacts and its reliance on ecosystem services.
Located in the region around Lira, known locally as the ‘Middle North’, this current project builds, very much, upon past achievements from TBA’s work with BATU in Hoima and Arua (see below). The Gulu, Apac, Kole and Oyam districts of Uganda, where this work is focused have only recently returned to stability after years of war. They are now seeing a steady expansion of agriculture as families and agribusinesses start to re-cultivate land which has been left barren for a number of years. The Middle North is of particular significance for its wetland resources. It is therefore critical that protection and guidance on the value of retaining crucial ecosystem services and biodiversity are put in place before agriculture expands into areas of biodiversity significance.
Five ‘demonstration areas’, involving local communities, will be used to showcase tangible benefits of enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES) in the landscape. These sites have been selected for their proximity to natural forest areas (National and Local Forest Reserves) and important freshwater resources. Working closely with farmers, community groups, famer alliances, schools, institutions and local and district governments, the project will be implementing a variety of sustainable farming techniques and ecosystem and biodiversity restoration, protection and enhancement initiatives. This will all be underpinned through training and awareness raising.
Importantly, this work includes gathering important baseline data (using key indicator species: birds, mammals, plants, insects), freshwater quality and socio-economics, in order to measure benefits for biodiversity, ecosystem services and local communities. Aerial surveys and remote sensing will also provide information on landscape scale use and impacts and will help inform the project as it progresses. This will be used to highlight biodiversity and ecosystem services of particular importance to the agricultural landscape, local livelihoods and biodiversity of national significance. In the future, this programme of work aims to encourage and engage additional agribusinesses and other stakeholders in the region to promote approaches to improving ecosystem integrity at a landscape level.
By 2015 the project aims to achieve the following outcomes for biodiversity conservation:
For recent key achievements see www.batbiodiversity.org/current projects/Uganda project
Until recently TBA had been collaborating with BAT Uganda and Nature Harness Initiatives and other Uganda NGOs in the Hoima and Arua regions to enhance the understanding and management of freshwater and natural forest resources within tobacco growing areas. The lessons and successes from this work have helped shape the current project in the ‘Middle North’ (see above). Whilst TBA is no longer actively involved in this region, biodiversity conservation remains a critical issue. However, BAT Uganda is now managing its biodiversity impacts and reliance directly in this region. In addition, the local conservation partners continue their work to enhance and restore ecosystem services along the riverine and forest patches. TBA, through the BATBP is now focusing its efforts with BAT and its local partners in the Lira region but it will ensure that the outcomes of the current project are shared in other agricultural landscapes in Uganda, including Hoima and Arua. Some of the key successes of this work are highlighted below:
If you would like any further information about our corporate work please contact our Corporate Partnerships Manager at TBA.