A biodiversity dependency refers to a business reliance on or use of biodiversity. Different sectors may have different biodiversity dependencies. For instance, the pharmaceutical sector may rely on genetic resources while the agricultural sector may rely on domesticated and / or wild pollinators. Biodiversity dependencies include:

  • Biological resources (e.g. materials, liquids, genetic resources) from both wild (e.g. wild fish) and cultivated (e.g. crops, cattle) species;
  • Various services captured from ecosystem processes, such as pollination, water filtration, crop pest and disease control, water flow regulation or recreational services.

A biodiversity impact refers to a positive or negative change in biodiversity due to business activities. Different sectors may have different biodiversity impacts. Some industries may direct biodiversity impacts, such as the agricultural, infrastructure, property development / construction and mining sectors through their land footprints. Others may have indirect impacts through the activities of their supply chains or clients, such as the retail (e.g., impacts related to the production or harvesting of fresh foods) and financial (e.g., project finance deals related to energy production, mining or infrastructure) sectors.

Biodiversity impacts relate to changes in:

  • The population and hence viability of species;
  • The extent and condition of habitats and ecosystems.

A biodiversity impact is different from an impact driver. To effectively manage biodiversity impacts, it is critical to understand the underlying impact drivers. We define an impact driver as a measurable quantity of an input to (e.g. volume of water and surface area used for agricultural production), or non-product output from (e.g. litres of water emissions released into a river by a manufacturing facility) a business activity. This implies that:

  • An impact driver may be related to a biodiversity dependency of a business: e.g. a fishing business relies on wild fish stocks, which may impact negatively the latter and cause further damages to underwater ecosystems due to the use of destructive fishing gear;
  • A single impact driver (e.g. land use change) may be associated with multiple biodiversity impacts (e.g. loss of a species, and decrease in the extent and condition of an ecosyst
  • A change in biodiversity (e.g. decrease in the population of a species) may be caused by several interacting impact drivers (e.g. land use change, increase in density of invasive alien species, water emissions).

What are the main drivers of biodiversity loss?

– Land use change, directly by land intensive sectors (e.g. agriculture, property development, infrastructure, mining) and indirectly by sectors further down the supply chains (e.g. retail, manufacturing, banking, insurance);
– Invasive alien species, introduced or mismanaged, intentionally or not;
– Water use and emissions by various industries, such as energy, mining, foods and beverages, textiles, etc.; and
– Greenhouse gas emissions leading to climate change and hence changes in the distributions of species.

Download the new report “Invitation to join the Biodiversity Disclosure Project – A study of the biodiversity performance of South African companies”.

Undertake a self assesment of your biodiversity perfomance.

Many businesses are already on the biodiversity mainstreaming journey. Here is a selection of case studies from various industries.

So as to be able to identify the biodiversity dependencies and impacts of your business, we invite you to consult the forthcoming guidance document for this second step of our biodiversity mainstreaming guidelines. This should help you:

  • Understand the basic concepts underpinning biodiversity dependencies and impacts, including the relationships between them through the framing of impact drivers and pathways;
  • The national and international policy environment regarding biodiversity and its components;
  • Identify the various types of biodiversity dependencies, impact drivers and impacts, with examples from a variety of sectors.