The Conservancy is applying its Development by Design approach to balancing the needs of development and nature at several pilot projects. These projects involve oil and gas fields and renewable energy sites in the United States and pilot regions of Colombia and Mongolia where energy and mining exploration is advancing rapidly.
Pilot projects play a critical role in driving changes in policy and practice. Working with government and business partners, we are applying Development by Design at sites to address key mitigation questions, learn from new challenges, and demonstrate how to deliver greater conservation benefits.
These project experiences provide the centerpiece for engaging decision-makers and transforming mitigation policies to achieve large-scale and more effective conservation outcomes.
The Nature Conservancy is advancing Development by Design at several pilots in the United States, focusing on improving mitigation for energy projects:
The northern tropical Andes region is one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth. Comprising parts of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, this region is home to 20 percent of the planet’s biodiversity.
To conserve this treasure in balance with rapid development, the Conservancy is working in Colombia with the country’s Ministry of Environment and partners to improve environmental licensing and mitigation strategies for mega-project development — mining, energy, roads and ports.
Beginning in the coal mining region of César, the Conservancy is applying Development by Design to support more effective landscape planning, avoidance of impacts to conservation priorities, and the use of biodiversity offsets to compensate for impacts.
Mongolia is a place of spectacular natural beauty with strong cultural heritage and the world’s last great deserts and grasslands. Still undeveloped, it is home to rolling steppes, abundant wildlife and people with a strong connection to the land. But change is coming quickly to Mongolia. The country’s mining and infrastructure projects are supporting economic development, but they also have the potential to impact wildlife and traditional communities that live off the land. Leaders there are facing difficult decisions on how best to balance rapid development with the needs of pastoral livelihoods and conservation of rare and remarkable natural assets.
Using the science and planning methods of Development by Design, the Conservancy is working with the Mongolian government, industry and local communities to create a blueprint for sustainable development in many parts of the country.
In the Eastern Steppe, we are already helping to preserve important grasslands that local herding communities and rare wildlife — like the Mongolian Gazelle — need to thrive. Through on-the-ground science, modeling and mapping, the Conservancy is trying to steer development away from the precious wild places, maintain healthy natural areas, and offset and minimize impacts when they do occur.
Likewise, we are leading a similar effort in the Gobi region to support better decision-making for where development could occur—and where it shouldn’t—based on factors like wildlife, precious species, and natural systems. The Mongolian government has invited the Conservancy to undertake a “landscape planning” project—this means the Conservancy is doing an assessment of the entire region – identifying where wildlife is most abundant, where biodiversity is greatest, where minerals can be found, and where people depend on the land for their livelihoods.
We will apply Development by Design to help reduce conflicts between development and conservation goals, avoid or offset the impacts of development, and support win-win solutions for the region. To do this, we are engaging leaders from government, the academic community, NGOs, industry and local herding communities to identify a vision for the Gobi region: one that allows Mongolia to grow its economy, benefit from its mineral wealth, bring prosperity to its people, and balances that development with nature.
The goal of the Gobi landscape planning project is to provide a blueprint for a better way forward – a plan that is shared, adopted, and applied by government, industry, lending institutions, and communities for land-use decisions to support healthy natural systems and a more sustainable Gobi region. Financial support for the Gobi project is being provided through a grant from Rio Tinto.October 01, 2012