BirdLife International’s Partnership with Rio Tinto
In 2001, BirdLife International and Rio Tinto formed a partnership to achieve mutually held goals of biodiversity conservation within the context of the global transition to sustainable development. Since its establishment, the partnership has helped the two organisations deliver sustainable and far-reaching outcomes, where their shared objectives are more effectively fulfilled by working together than by acting alone.
BirdLife International is a global alliance of conservation organisations working together for the world’s birds and people. With partner organisations in 110 countries, BirdLife is working to conserve birds and other biodiversity, and improve the quality of life for people. Rio Tinto is a global mining company, with a presence in more than 40 countries. BirdLife’s scientific expertise and global biodiversity databases enable it to identify global conservation priorities relevant to Rio Tinto operations. Furthermore, through its global Partnership and grassroots networks, BirdLife is well positioned to identify and develop local collaborative conservation initiatives between Rio Tinto business units and local partners.
The partnership achieves biodiversity conservation through several activities:
Promotion of an interest in birds as a gateway to wider awareness of the environment, through annual birdwatch events at Rio Tinto operations.
Implementation of collaborative conservation projects relevant to mining operations and to BirdLife Partners.
Development and implementation of a group-wide biodiversity strategy among Rio Tinto business units.
Global outreach to advance the debate on corporate responsibility through demonstration of the partnership’s achievements.
Map of partnership projects and Birdwatch events.
Partnership biodiversity projects:
Richards Bay Avitourism Project – the Zululand Birding Route (ZBR). Read more.
Kruger-to-Canyons Birding Route Avitourism Project. Read more.
Protecting Damara Terns in Namibia. Read more.
Bird Awareness Programme in Zimbabwe. Read more.
Direct Payments for Conservation in Madagascar. Read more.
The Madison Valley Important Bird Area Project. Read more.
Lower San Pedro River and Queen Creek Project. Read more.
The Audubon Wyoming Community Naturalist Program. Read more.
Management of Lee Creek Natural Area. Read more.
Lahontan Valley Wetlands IBA Outreach Program. Read more.
Yampa Valley and Sagebrush Steppe Conservation Project. Read more.
Bird and Biodiversity Exhibitions at Lac Saint Pierre Biosphere Reserve. Read more.
Conserving Flamingos in the High Andes. Read more.
Biodiversity Offsets in the Pantanal. Read more.
The Australian IBA Programme. Read more.
Birdwatching Tourism at Kakadu and the Top End. Read more.
Developing projects in the Americas. Read more.
Developing projects in Asia. Read more.
Richards Bay Avitourism Project – the Zululand Birding Route (ZBR) <Back to top>
A collaboration between Richards Bay Minerals and BirdLife South Africa, this project achieves sustainable development goals through community-led ecotourism businesses while achieving global and national bird conservation priorities in the region of the Richards Bay mine. Over 35 members of the local community have been trained as birdwatching guides and now make their living from ecotourism. Local government has been actively involved, such as in handing over a wetland to the project for wise conservation stewardship.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 91KB)
Kruger-to-Canyons Birding Route Avitourism Project <Back to top>
A community and conservation based avitourism development project developed in partnership between BirdLife South Africa, Rio Tinto, the Palabora Mining Company and the European Union. The K2CBR involves a number of different community initiatives ranging from guide training, environmental education initiatives, poverty alleviation, skills development projects and birding infrastructure projects.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 118KB)
Protecting Damara Terns in Namibia <Back to top>
This project has seen the Namibian government, corporates and tourism operators finding common ground to conserve the endemic Damara Tern, now a symbol of conservation on the Namibian coast. Rössing Uranium Ltd. has supported the project as it was a prominent biodiversity issue within some of the key communities that are associated with the business. A 30 percent decline in hatching losses of this rare tern in 2002 speaks for the success of the project.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 74KB)
Bird Awareness Programme in Zimbabwe <Back to top>
BirdLife Zimbabwe is currently implementing a Bird Awareness Programme in five schools around the Murowa Diamonds mine. This programme builds on an earlier initiative at schools in the catchment areas of the Renco and Eiffel Flats mines of RioZim. The programme seeks to empower young people to change their environment and themselves, through gardening skills, land management ideas and by developing a lifelong interest in birds and their conservation.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 182KB)
Direct Payments for Conservation in Madagascar <Back to top>
Rio Tinto's Health, Safety and Environment Centre of Excellence is currently supporting Asity Madagascar to implement a project to conserve Tsitongambarika forest in south-eastern Madagascar. This project is employing an innovative approach to conservation - direct payments - which delivers direct benefits to local communities in return for improved forest protection. The project is assisting QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM) to achieve Net Positive Impact (NPI) with regard to biodiversity for its nearby ilmenite mining operation.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 188KB)
The Madison Valley Important Bird Area Project <Back to top>
Montana Audubon, Rio Tinto Minerals America and the Madison Valley Ranchlands Group collaborated to survey and highlight the importance of the riparian forests of the Madison Valley as a site of bird conservation importance in the state. The result was a successful bid to recognise the site as a one of Montana’s IBAs, with Madison Valley IBA being accepted by the state Technical Committee.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 128KB)
Lower San Pedro River and Queen Creek Project <Back to top>
A two-year programme (2006-2007) undertook the development of a bird conservation strategy for the Lower San Pedro River and the Queen Creek watershed, and saw the nomination and acceptance of state IBA status for both the Lower San Pedro River and Boyce Thompson Arboretum. It assisted in the provision of detailed biodiversity assessments of the land exchange parcel on the Lower San Pedro River for Resolution Copper Company and with the establishment of baseline data for the mine’s operational biodiversity action planning. It also developed and implemented various environmental education programmes for schools in the local community and organised an annual birdwatching event at a key site.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 170KB)
The Audubon Wyoming Community Naturalist Program <Back to top>
Environmental education is a key to sustainability. Extractive industry and conservation has come together in Wyoming to create the Community Naturalist Program for public education, a collaboration between Rio Tinto Energy America and Audubon Wyoming.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 222KB)
Management of Lee Creek Natural Area <Back to top>
Through a fencing and public education programme the ecological integrity of an important part of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem has been restored. Kennecott Utah Copper Company, National Audubon Society and local interest groups have found common ground to deliver these conservation outcomes.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 116KB)
Lahontan Valley Wetlands IBA Outreach Program <Back to top>
Audubon Nevada partnered with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Rio Tinto’s Kennecott Minerals to develop and establish key visitor facilities at the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most important freshwater marshes in the Great Basin. Coupled with this facility was the publication and launch of Nevada’s directory of 35 IBAs, of which the Lahontan Valley Wetlands is of global importance for breeding and migratory shorebirds and waterfowl.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 196KB)
Yampa Valley and Sagebrush Steppe Conservation Project <Back to top>
Audubon Colorado is in the final year of a five-year programme of habitat assessment, biodiversity action planning and implementation of initial habitat enhancement measures at an important area of riparian habitat owned by the Colowyo Mine. The lessons learned and the techniques developed during this effort are now being applied to a new initiative of biodiversity action planning for the wider sqgebrush landscape that surrounds the riparian zone. The overall goals of the expanded programme are to restore and enhance habitats for a variety of sensitive species, including Greater Sage-grouse and Sandhill Crane.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 165KB)
Bird and Biodiversity Exhibitions at Lac Saint Pierre Biosphere Reserve <Back to top>
The Lac Saint Pierre Biosphere Reserve is a living laboratory of sustainability, balancing the needs of 85,000 people with the biodiversity of the lake system, which includes no less than four IBAs. Environmental education exhibitions were the outcome of this collaboration between QIT Fer et Titane and local conservation and nature groups.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 47KB)
Conserving Flamingos in the High Andes <Back to top>
This project has seen the implementation of priority actions furthering the conservation of Andean Flamingo and James’s (Puna) Flamingo in High Andean wetlands of the central dry Puna - Altiplano, as well as critical lowland habitats. It has also pursued a strategic approach for the design and implementation of a network of priority wetlands for flamingo conservation, identifying, profiling and safeguarding many new sites across the flamingos' core ranges.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 100KB)
Biodiversity Offsets in the Pantanal <Back to top>
BirdLife International and a number of other conservation organisations are assisting Rio Tinto to pilot its emerging biodiversity offsets methodology at an iron ore operation in the Pantanal of Brazil. This initiative aims to help Rio Tinto Brasil achieve a Net Positive Impact on biodiversity, and comply with government regulations, by compensating for unavoidable residual impacts on biodiversity through the identification and protection of sites with equivalent or greater biodiversity values outside of the Rio Tinto lease.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 163KB)
The Australian IBA Programme <Back to top>
This three-year project will identify and document all of the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Australia. Global criteria have been adapted to Australia and applied comprehensively to identify 340 IBAs. The project will produce a GIS map supported by details of each IBA. Opportunities are being identified to promote bird monitoring and appropriate land management, mostly by local communities and neighbouring Rio Tinto businesses.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 138KB)
Birdwatching Tourism at Kakadu and the Top End <Back to top>
The region around Darwin in Australia was identified as a suitable region to replicate the success of South Africa's Birding Routes. A training course will be developed for birdwatching tour guides. Trainees, especially from local indigenous communities, will be recruited, trained and mentored. Targeted marketing will grow the number of birdwatching clients within Australia and, especially, from overseas. Building a pool of trained guides and providing job opportunities will help ensure sustainable livelihoods beyond closure of Energy Resources of Australia’s Ranger mine.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 108KB)
Developing projects in the Americas<Back to top>
In the Americas, the partnership is developing a Western Hemisphere migratory bird conservation programme, focused on IBAs, migratory flyways and associated bird species relevant to Rio Tinto businesses and their local communities. This programme aims to address migratory species conservation needs on both their breeding and non-breeding grounds, by building on existing engagement within the Rio Tinto-BirdLife partnership.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 241KB)
Developing projects in Asia<Back to top>
The partnership has been contributing to efforts to mainstream IBAs and other critical natural habitats into development planning in Mongolia. The partnership is also engaging with the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project, part owned by Rio Tinto, to assist in baseline data collection and biodiversity action planning for the area likely to be affected by this development.
Download the factsheet (PDF, 241KB)
Contact Details <Back to top>
For further information about the Rio Tinto-BirdLife International Partnership, contact:
Rio Tinto-BirdLife International Programme,
Wellbrook Court, Girton Road,
Cambridge, CB3 0NA, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1223 277318
Fax: +44 (0)1223 277200