Achieving biodiversity conservation goals in mine development, operation and closure Hilts, S.; Franklin, W.; Gullison, T.
In 2011, Teck adopted an aspirational, long-term (2030) vision to achieve a net positive impact (NPI) on biodiversity by maintaining or re-establishing self-sustaining landscapes and ecosystems that lead to an agreed set of viable, appropriate and diverse long-term land uses in the areas where Teck operates. In the same year, Teck completed a high-level internal guidance manual, which described emerging trends in biodiversity management and provided a tool kit to help sites with initial stages of biodiversity planning. In 2012, Teck conducted a company-wide scan to prioritise biodiversity issues at its operating and advance project sites. This exercise helped the company select two sites for pilot testing its biodiversity planning workbook and aided in prioritising the remaining sites for corporate and technical support. Teck next engaged its personnel from operating sites and other corporate functional units to develop a draft NPI strategy to direct the scope of Teck’s NPI vision and to explain how sites should use the mitigation hierarchy to pursue NPI and which biodiversity targets a site should seek to achieve. A key aspect of Teck’s strategy is the use of quantitative metrics to demonstrate NPI on beneficial, valued and sustaining ecosystem and biodiversity elements that are relevant to the company’s operations and activities. These elements include natural habitats and ecosystems; critical landscape functions (e.g., connectivity); highly threatened and/or vulnerable populations and species of plants and animals; and ecosystem services. A draft biodiversity management planning workbook was piloted in 2013 at the two sites selected in 2012. In 2014, the spreadsheet-based workbook and a guidance document for developing site-specific biodiversity management plans were rolled out to all sites. By the end of 2015, Teck is committed to developing biodiversity management plans that set out how NPI may be achieved on the basis of information that has been gathered and assessed to date. Experience with applying Teck’s biodiversity management vision, targets and tools has produced several key learnings: Teck’s NPI-based approach is often more in line with the expectations of communities of interest than other approaches prescribed by environmental assessment agency policies. The NPI-based approach can motivate improved efforts at the avoidance, minimisation and rehabilitation steps of the mitigation hierarchy. Carefully selected and managed offsets will often be required to replace ecosystem and biodiversity elements that cannot be restored on site in a meaningful time frame. This same experience has revealed some challenges, including developing metrics for NPI planning and performance monitoring that achieve credibility and comparability, demonstrating additionality of conservation actions, ensuring the longevity of offsets and identifying available offset opportunities.
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