A. Further development of guidelines for incorporating biodiversity-related issues into environmental-impact-assessment legislation or processes and in strategic impact assessment
The Conference of the Parties
GUIDELINES FOR INCORPORATING BIODIVERSITY-RELATED ISSUES INTO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT LEGISLATION AND/OR PROCESS AND IN STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
1. Purpose and approach
2. Biodiversity issues at different stages of environmental impact assessment
The screening criteria
(c) Impact analysis and assessment
(d) Consideration of mitigation measures
(e) Reporting: the environmental impact statement (EIS)
(h) Monitoring and environmental auditing
3. Incorporation of biodiversity considerations in strategic environmental assessments
4. Ways and means
(b) Legislative authority
Level of diversity
Biological diversity perspective
Conservation of biological diversity
Sustainable use of biodiversity
Genetic diversity (1)
(I) Does the intended activity cause a local loss of varieties/cultivars/breeds of cultivated plants and/or domesticated animals and their relatives, genes or genomes of social, scientific and economic importance?
Species diversity (2)
(II) Does the intended activity cause a direct or indirect loss of a population of a species?
(III) Does the intended activity affect the sustainable use of a population of a species?
Ecosystem diversity (2)
(IV) Does the intended activity lead to serious damage or total loss of (an) ecosystem(s) or land-use type(s), thus leading to a loss of ecosystem diversity (i.e. the loss of indirect use values and non-use values)?
(V) Does the intended activity affect the sustainable exploitation of (an) ecosystem(s) or land-use type(s) by humans in such manner that the exploitation becomes destructive or non-sustainable (i.e. the loss of direct use values)?
(1) The potential loss of natural genetic diversity (genetic erosion) is extremely difficult to determine, and does not provide any practical clues for formal screening. The issue probably only comes up when dealing with highly threatened, legally protected species which are limited in numbers and/or have highly separated populations (rhinoceros, tigers, whales, etc.), or when complete ecosystems become separated and the risk of genetic erosion applies to many species (the reason to construct so-called eco-ducts across major line infrastructure). These issues are dealt with at species or ecosystem level.
(2) Species diversity: The level at which "population" is to be defined fully depends on the screening criteria used by a country. For example, in the process of obtaining a special status, the conservation status of species can be assessed within the boundaries of a country (for legal protection), or can be assessed globally (IUCN Red Lists). Similarly, the scale at which ecosystems are defined depends on the definition of criteria in a country.
THE SCREENING CRITERIA
This is a suggested outline of a set of screening criteria, to be elaborated on country level. It only deals with biodiversity criteria and thus is an add-on to already existing screening criteria.
Category A: Environmental impact assessment mandatory:
Only in the case criteria can be based on formal legal backing, such as:
· National legislation, for example in case of impact on protected species and protected areas;
· International conventions such as CITES, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, etc.;
· Directives from supranational bodies, such as the European Union directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora and directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds
Indicative list of activities for which an environmental impact assessment could be mandatory:
(a) At the genetic level (relates to screening question I in appendix 1 above):
· Directly or indirectly cause a local loss of legally protected varieties/cultivars/breeds of cultivated plants and/or domesticated animals and their relatives, genes or genomes of social, scientific and economic importance e.g. by introducing living modified organisms that can transfer transgenes to legally protected varieties/cultivars/breeds of cultivated plants and/or domesticated animals and their relatives
(b) At species level (relates to screening question II and III in appendix 1 above):
· Directly affect legally protected species, for example by extractive, polluting or other disturbing activities;
· Indirectly affect legally protected species, for example by reducing its habitat, altering its habitat in such a manner that its survival is threatened, introducing predators, competitors or parasites of protected species, alien species or GMOs;
· Directly or indirectly affect all of the above for cases which are important in respect of e.g. stop-over areas for migratory birds, breeding grounds of migratory fish, commercial trade in species protected by CITES.
· Directly or indirectly affect non-legally protected, threatened species.
(c) At ecosystem level (screening questions IV and V in appendix 1 above):
· Are located in legally protected areas ;
· Are located in the vicinity of legally protected areas;
· Have direct influence on legally protected areas, for example by emissions into the area, diversion of surface water that flows through the area, extraction of groundwater in a shared aquifer, disturbance by noise or lights, pollution through air.
Category B: The need for, or the level of environmental impact assessment, is to be determined:
In cases where there is no legal basis to require an environmental impact assessment, but one can suspect that the proposed activity may have a significant impact on biological diversity, or that a limited study is needed to solve uncertainties or design limited mitigation measures. This category covers the frequently referred to but difficult to use concept of "sensitive areas". As long as so-called sensitive areas do not have any legal protected status it is difficult to use the concept in practice, so a more practical alternative is provided.
The following categories of criteria point towards possible impacts on biological diversity, and further attention is thus required:
(a) Activities in, or in the vicinity of, or with influence on areas with legal status having a probable link to biological diversity but not legally protecting biological diversity (relates to all five screening questions in appendix 1 above). For example: a Ramsar site has the official recognition of having internationally important wetland values, but this recognition does not automatically imply legal protection of biological diversity in these wetlands). Other examples include areas allocated to indigenous and local communities, extractive reserves, landscape preservation areas, sites covered by international treaties or conventions for preservation of natural and/or cultural heritage such as the UNESCO biosphere reserves and World Heritage Sites;
(b) Impacts on biological diversity possible or likely, but the environmental impact assessment is not necessarily triggered by law:
(i) At the genetic level:
· Replacing agricultural, forestry or fishery varieties or breeds by new varieties, including the introduction of living modified organisms (LMOs) (screening questions I
(ii) At the species level:
· All introductions of non-indigenous species (questions II and III);
· All activities which directly or indirectly affect sensitive or threatened species if or in case these species are not yet protected (good reference for threatened species is provided by the IUCN Red Lists); sensitive species may be endemic, umbrella species, species at the edge of their range, or with restricted distributions, rapidly declining species (question II). Particular attention should be given to species which are important in local livelihoods and cultures;
· All extractive activities related to the direct exploitation of species (fisheries, forestry, hunting, collecting of plants (including living botanical and zoological resources), etc.) (question III);
· All activities leading to reproductive isolation of populations of species (such as line infrastructure) (question II);
(iii) At the ecosystem level:
· All extractive activities related to the use of resources on which biological diversity depends (exploitation of surface and groundwater, open pit mining of soil components such as clay, sand, gravel, etc.) (questions IV and V);
· All activities involving the clearing or flooding of land (questions IV and V);
· All activities leading to pollution of the environment (questions IV and V);
· Activities leading to the displacement of people (questions IV and V);
· All activities leading to reproductive isolation of ecosystems (question IV);
· All activities that significantly affect ecosystem functions that represent values for society (see appendix 3 below for a list of functions provided by nature). Some of these functions depend on relatively neglected taxa;
· All activities in areas of known importance for biological diversity (questions IV and V), such as areas containing high diversity (hot spots), large numbers of endemic or threatened species, or wilderness; required by migratory species; of social, economic, cultural or scientific importance; or which are representative, unique (e.g. where rare or sensitive species occur) or associated with key evolutionary or other biological processes.
Category C: no environmental impact assessment required
Activities which are not covered by one of the categories A or B, or are designated as category C after initial environmental examination.
The generic nature of these guidelines does not allow for the positive identification of types of activities or areas where environmental impact assessment from a biodiversity perspective is not needed. At country level, however, it will be possible to indicate geographical areas where biological diversity considerations do not play a role of importance and, conversely, areas where they do play an important role (biodiversity-sensitive areas).
INDICATIVE LIST (NON-EXHAUSTIVE) OF EXAMPLES OF FUNCTIONS OF THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT THAT ARE DIRECTLY (FLORA AND FAUNA) OR INDIRECTLY (SERVICES PROVIDED BY ECOSYSTEMS SUCH AS WATER SUPPLY) DERIVED FROM BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY.
BIODIVERSITY CHECKLIST ON SCOPING FOR THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE IMPACTS OF PROPOSED PROJECTS ON COMPONENTS OF BIODIVERSITY (NOT EXHAUSTIVE)
COMPONENTS OF BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
(spatial: horizontal and vertical)
LEVELS OF BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
B. Designing national-level monitoring programmes and indicators
The Conference of the Parties
C. Scientific assessments