Maintaining biodiversity within whole ecosystems is vital for their health and functionality, and vital for our own survival. Biodiversity underpins the essential services that these ecosystems provide us, such as recycling of nutrients, the purification of air and water and the production of organic biomass to sustain us. These essential services are often referred to as “ecosystem services”.
Hydro, as an integrated aluminum company that extracts and processes raw materials, recognises the negative impact our global operations can have on biodiversity. We therefore have a strong focus on responsible practices towards biodiversity management and implement a risk-based approach to identify and minimise the biodiversity impact of our operations:
- For all new projects, we perform an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). Part of this assessment is to identify the material impacts on biodiversity by our operations within the defined area of influence. This process includes mapping the occurrence of legally protected areas and areas with high biodiversity conservation priority (e.g. IUCN cat. I – VI, Key Biodiversity Areas, Ramsar sites etc.) and the identification of threatened and endangered species within the area of influence.
- If we identify material risks to biodiversity, the next step is to develop a Biodiversity Action Plan. The purpose of this plan to identify and implement appropriate mitigating actions to reduce our impact through to application of the Biodiversity Mitigation Hierarchy:
- Avoid: Prevent a potential biodiversity impact through changes to the design and / or location of a new operation.
- Minimise: Reduce impact by selecting operational procedures and technologies that are designed to reduce or limit undesirable impacts on biodiversity.
- Rehabilitate/Restore: Through corrective actions, such as reforestation or fish restocking, we rehabilitate areas impacted by our operations both during operations and as part of the closure plan.
- Offset: Where avoidance, minimisation and rehabilitation actions are not sufficient to completely mitigate the direct impact of our operations, it may be appropriate to compensate for the impact through direct investments that protect and restore other areas of comparable conservation value. However, the application of offsetting must be done with careful consideration and only as a last resort where the other mitigating actions are not sufficient.
Through a robust risk assessment approach and strict adherence to the biodiversity mitigation hierarchy, Hydro’s aspires to achieve No Net Loss of Biodiversity (NNL). When a proposed new operation cannot demonstrate adherence to these principles or the cost to the biodiversity value is too high, the project will not be pursued.
Within Hydro’s value chain, the largest impact to biodiversity occurs at our mining operations in Paragominas. Although the area is characterised by secondary rainforest that was already modified by human activity prior to mining, we recognise that it still has an inherent biological and ecosystem value that we should seek to preserve and rehabilitate. Since taking ownership of the mine in 2008, Hydro has developed a strong reforestation programme that seeks to mitigate the impact of forest removal through timebound targets to replant and reforest the areas. Currently, we achieve a 1:1 rehabilitation target of mined areas available for reforestation and replanting within two complete hydrological seasons and have successfully closed the historical gap inherited from the mine’s former ownership.
These efforts in Paragominas are further supported by active research into mining rehabilitation methods and measuring and monitoring the impact of our mining activities on biodiversity. This active research is conducted by the Brazil-Norway Biodiversity Research Consortium (BRC), an independent, international group of research institutes funded by Hydro.
More information on both our rehabilitation strategy in Paragominas and the BRC can be found in the links to the left/right.
Hydro’s approach to biodiversity impact mitigation is guided by our participation in industry associations (e.g. ICMM, IAI and ASI) and the best practices detailed in their performance standards and other internationally recognised standards (e.g. IFC, CSBI and WBCSD).
SDG 15 “Life on Land”
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
15.1 By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements
15.2 By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.
15.5 Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species.
15.9 By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts