The world’s governments through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), agreed on a set of 20 targets to help stop the loss, reduce the pressures on, and improve the state of global biodiversity.
These were known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets set in Aichi, Japan. In order to achieve them effectively, governments needed to implement action plans and strategies and this is where tools that show maps and spatial data, including the location of national parks and endangered species, make planning more clearer.
One such tool for viewing and analysing biodiversity information covered is the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT). It is an innovative tool designed to facilitate access to a range of global and national data layers, such as protected area boundaries, biological information about habitat and species diversity indices, and key areas for biodiversity, which can be useful for research and conservation planning purposes.
The tool is the result of a ground-breaking work and conservation partnership among BirdLife International, Conservation International, and International Union for Conservation of Nature and UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre. The tools made possible by a diverse set of data providers, users and funders in government, business and civil society from more than 200 countries.
With Uganda’s oil developments that are located in the Albertine grabben, one of the most bio-diverse regions in Africa hosting 40 per cent of Africa’s mammals, 50 per cent of birds and about 20 per cent of its amphibians and plants. It also has more threatened and endemic species than any other region of Africa; 41 per cent of Africa’s bird species and with more than five fresh water lakes and diverse ethnic groups of people.
This section, therefore, underscores the relevance of oil companies and government to conserve the environment and protect critical ecosystem where the oil developments criss-cross through community land, national parks, water bodies, forest reserves and different geographic zones.
With IBAT, which provides a basic risk screening on biodiversity through an interactive mapping tool, decision makers are able to easily access and use this up to date information to identify biodiversity risks and opportunities within or close to a project boundary to protect sensitive ecosystem amid oil activities in critical areas.
It also incorporates biodiversity considerations into key project planning and management decisions which include identifying potential investments, sitting an operation in a given area, developing an action plan to manage for biodiversity risks and impact, assessing risks associated, which helps potential sourcing regions and reporting on corporate biodiversity performance. For instance, Tullow Oil manages the aspect of bio diversity within some regions.
Therefore, IBAT will help government in identifying critical biodiversity areas such as tourism sites like Murchison falls and Queen Elizabeth National Park which are threatened by the oil projects.