The areas and designations listed in this guide are all important to biodiversity and its conservation to varying degrees. They present a range of risks and opportunities to business, which operate at several scales, from local to global. In order to understand the relative relevance of these areas to businesses that are, or are anticipating, operating in or near such areas, there is a need to carefully examine various characteristics of areas that can influence how an individual company operates. Here, we provide an analysis of three of these characteristics – legal status and compliance, biodiversity, and socio-cultural values.
- Legal status and compliance. legal recognition and protection of an area has a strong influence in governing the types of activities permitted within such sites. Companies that are in breach of such regulations are likely to suffer financial implications in the forms of fines, as well as loss of future concessionary rights afforded by the relevant authorities. In addition to what companies are legally required to comply with, there is another layer of attention on a company’s activities when it comes to influencing areas of biodiversity importance. This is related to the level of attention it can attract from the international community, financial institutions as well as compliance with non-mandatory standards. These can include those required to secure finance such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) performance standards, as well as those adopted by a company to achieve product certification or company level accreditation.
- Biodiversity values. – the biodiversity values that trigger designation or identification help us understand what values need to be maintained in each area and what the risks and opportunities are of positively or negatively impacting those values. The relevance of biodiversity values is also influenced by the geographical extent of an area, as this determines the ability to influence planning on the ground, as well as the relative risk of compromising biodiversity values and the opportunities for playing a positive role in the conservation of an area.
- Socio-cultural values. – the social, economic and cultural values based on the criteria for identification as well as management regime for each type of area are important for understanding what risks and opportunities are likely to be associated with an area in terms of who are likely to be impacted both positively and negatively.
Specific information on each of these characteristics is provided for each of the areas of biodiversity importance on their specific pages. The following pages provide an overview of this information by categorising the different areas accordingly and presenting this information in a number of summary tables.