How BirdLife and Business Work Together

Soto Pajares in Spain. Photo: Luis Martinez Martinez


Within the framework of its global strategy, BirdLife seeks to work together with business towards sustainable use of natural resources. BirdLife particularly wants to engage where the Partnership's unique structure and skills can make a special contribution. BirdLife Partners and their Secretariat already work with businesses around the world on a range of programmes. All are based on the opportunity for achieving shared aims and mutual benefit. These programmes build mutual trust and demonstrate positive collaborative action at the local,  national and global levels. They bring real benefits for biodiversity, while helping businesses meet their needs in the areas of (for example) regulatory requirements, local and global profile, investor relations, community engagement, and personnel development and management.


Early warning and environmental assessment

Many businesses wish to understand the biological significance of the areas where they are working or exploring. BirdLife Partners have documented the most important sites for birds (Important Bird Areas) in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia and South America. A world-wide assessment will be finished by 2004. This is the most advanced global scientific assessment of priority sites for biodiversity: the IBA network captures a very high proportion of all important wildlife, not just birds. The assessment is based on globally agreed criteria and supported by extensive documentation, so that key sensitivities are explicitly flagged.


Indicators and monitoring

To measure and manage the impact of development on biodiversity, good data and indicators are needed. Birds are excellent indicators of biodiversity and environmental sustainability. Across the world, BirdLife Partners document and monitor birds and habitats, developing datasets on status and trends that build from local to national to global levels. For example, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife in the UK) has recently worked with the UK Ministry for Environment and Rural Affairs to construct an indicator based on bird populations. This forms one of the UK Government's 17 Quality of Life indicators designed to measure sustainability.

flamingos fuente de piedra spain © Javier Milla

Mitigation and restoration

At many business sites impacts can be mitigated, through appropriate resource-use methods or by ensuring the long-term security of adjoining areas. On the Great Salt Lake, Utah, the National Audubon Society (BirdLife in the USA) manages the Gilmore Sanctuary, while as a mitigation project, Kennecott Utah Copper (a Rio Tinto company) owns and manages the Inland Sea Shorebird Reserve which lies immediately adjacent. KUC and Audubon are working together to ensure that these areas are managed and appreciated as a globally important site beyond the closure of the mine. Biodiversity can sometimes be restored at previously worked sites. An agreement between the RSPB and Hanson PLC will result in the largest reed swamp in the UK being restored at Needingworth, Cambridgeshire following gravel extraction, and support the site's conversion to a major nature reserve.


Global environmental profile

BirdLife's global reach and expertise combine with corporate commitment to deliver world class conservation programmes. BirdLife's pioneering collaboration with BP since 1990 (in conjunction with Fauna & Flora International, Conservation International and the Wildlife Conservation Society) has so far supported 194 student-led biodiversity projects in 60 countries. BirdLife's input ensures that these projects address international conservation priorities, are well-planned, executed and reported, and grow individual and national conservation capacity. As a result the programme appropriately showcases BP's real environmental commitment.


Building awareness and involvement

Birds are an excellent way for awakening an interest in nature, and building awareness of environmental issues. BirdLife's collaborative programme with Rio Tinto promotes birdwatching events at mine sites to develop environmental awareness and interest among staff and local communities. In 2002, 43 events with over 1400 participants were held at sites in North and South America, southern Africa, Madagascar, Britain, India, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Events involve birdwatching and a range of associated environmental and educational activities appropriate to the needs of local communities, employees and their families. They provide a chance for the business and BirdLife to communicate their messages, both to each other and to the wider public.



Engaging the wider community

Forward-looking businesses need to engage constructively with the wider community. Several BirdLife Partners and Rio Tinto are working together to develop sustainable local conservation projects at, or near, a range of mine sites. This cultivates a biodiversity stewardship role for business alongside socio-economic development. In South Africa, BirdLife South Africa is collaborating with Richards Bay Minerals to develop a regional eco-tourism initiative, focusing on networked bird tourism at Richards Bay and other IBAs and sites throughout Zululand. The process engages a wide range of stakeholders in tourism, nature conservation and local government, and has identified IBAs and other wildlife sites as core economic resources underpinning this form of sustainable development.


Best Environmental Practice from Global to Local, through 10 million supporters

BirdLife's structure, based on national non-governmental membership organisations, links global thinking and local action. In the UK, RSPB's million members have been offered the opportunity to switch to electricity generated from renewable sources, through Scottish and Southern Energy. This costs them no extra and provides funds for conservation, so that the environment receives a double benefit.  BirdLife believes in a future where the world's pressing development needs are met sustainably. BirdLife enters relationships with business in order to find constructive solutions, but without compromising the public and open promotion of best environmental practice. To find out how your business could work with BirdLife, please contact:

Download a collaborative report on strengthening the implementation of the mitigation hierarchy June, 2015


Back to Business Partnerships