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Improving baseline data collection

Core standardized methods to help inform decision-making

© CI/photo by John Martin

Today’s energy and mining projects operate in some of the most remote and least studied regions on Earth. The task of responsible energy extraction begins early in a project’s lifecycle.

One key step is accurately describing the biodiversity present at a given location. This “baseline” identifies key components of the environment to avoid and/or manage, such as endangered species. Baseline data also set the stage for subsequent regulatory monitoring activities.

However, a lack of standardized baseline protocols has hampered comparisons of results among sites and of changes over time. To address this need, Conservation International’s RAP program recently published the first handbook on a concise, practical set of essential standardized approaches for 12 taxonomic groups, Core Standardized Methods for Rapid Biological Field Assessment.​

Our role

Conservation International, ​with financial support from Chevron, brought together the scientific knowledge of more than 60 experts globally to generate a first-of-its-kind text providing specific biodiversity baseline protocols that ensure best science at project sites. Application of these core methods makes the results of baseline assessments more rigorous, comparable and replicable across sites and over time compared with current approaches.

Our plan

Address sector realities

Energy and mining projects require robust and standardized data collection techniques to meet regulatory, financial lender and self-imposed biodiversity targets. These methods maximize cost-effectiveness and reliability, which helps minimize the time constraints faced by many projects.

Provide clear and concise information

The handbook methods are intended to be adopted by those who need it most in the energy and mining sectors, including environmental managers or third-party environmental consultants tasked with carrying out baseline assessments.

Integrate results

The data collected are to be used in an overarching strategy to better track and avoid impacts to biodiversity. This can provide a greater level of assurance in biodiversity baseline assessment and subsequent monitoring to meet emerging stakeholder expectations from governments, financial lenders and industry, saving time and money over the life of a project.

Biodiversity handbook
© Conservation International

Core Standardized Methods for Rapid Biological Field Assessment

"Reliable, standardized and replicable methodologies for quickly assessing key ecosystem values in the field are essential for conservation planning and decision-making at the local to regional scale at which most threats occur. Rapid biological assessments are a cost-effective solution to this problem, providing data in a timely manner to address a wide range of conservation needs, and in particular to establish a baseline that can be used to detect changes over time."

Edited by Trond H. Larsen

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