Partnership with Rio Tinto (Ended September 2016)


In 2001, BirdLife International and Rio Tinto formed a global partnership to achieve mutually held goals of biodiversity conservation. In 2004, at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Bangkok, Rio Tinto launched their corporate commitment to have a ‘Net Positive Impact (NPI) on biodiversity; a key goal for the Partnership is to deliver significant, measurable contributions towards this commitment. The partnership came to an end in September, 2016. 


BirdLife’s scientific expertise and global biodiversity databases enable Rio Tinto to identify global conservation priorities and sites that present both risks and opportunities 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:

  • Enabling realistic, measurable contributions to Rio Tinto’s corporate commitment to a Net Positive Impact (NPI) on biodiversity
  • Implementation of collaborative conservation projects relevant to mining operations and to BirdLife Partners.
  • Promotion of an interest in birds as a gateway to wider environmental awareness through annual birdwatch events
  • 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.


Partnership Outcomes


  • Additional $2 million leveraged funding raised for conservation
  • 5 IBAs designated in Australia, Madagascar, and the USA with a total area of over 90,000 Ha
  • A number of Local Conservation Groups created
  • Livelihoods created through Zululand Birding Route, increased average income of guides by 100 times
  • 40,000 participants in 440 birdwatch events bringing together communities and business units

Partnership Proje​cts (2001-2016)


10 Years of environmental education in Madagascar

Kennecott Copper

Western Hemisphere Flyway Programme

East Asian - Australasian Flyway Programme

Projects in Southern Africa

Vulture Safe Zone at Bunder, India    

Annual Rio Tinto BirdWatch Event

Richards Bay Avitourism Project – the Zululand Birding Route (ZBR) 

Kruger-to-Canyons Birding Route Avitourism Project 

Protecting Damara Terns in Namibia 

Bird Awareness Programme in Zimbabwe 

Direct Payments for Conservation in Madagascar 


The Madison Valley Important Bird Area Project 

Lower San Pedro River and Queen Creek Project 

The Audubon Wyoming Community Naturalist Program 

Management of Lee Creek Natural Area 

Lahontan Valley Wetlands IBA Outreach Program 


Yampa Valley and Sagebrush Steppe Conservation Project 

Bird and Biodiversity Exhibitions at Lac Saint Pierre Biosphere Reserve 

Conserving Flamingos in the High Andes 

Biodiversity Offsets in the Pantanal 

The Australian IBA Programme 

Birdwatching Tourism at Kakadu and the Top End 

Galba Gobi Project in Mongolia

Mongolian IBA Inventory

Safeguarding Important Areas of Natural Habitat in Mongolia alongside Economic Development




Contact Details 

For further information about the Rio Tinto-BirdLife International Partnership, contact:

Samir.Whitaker@birdlife.org - Programme Manager

The David Attenborough Building
Pembroke Street
Tel: +44 (0)1223 747596

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