top of page

Why should corporations care about Protected Areas?

We are all aware about the wildlife-human conflict in the news cycle almost every month. There has been a lot of debates and discussions surrounding the same in newspapers, magazines and television. There has also been a string of movies on the topic from as early as Shikari in 1963 to Sherni in 2022.

Have you ever wondered why you don't hear much news about corporations and wildlife conflict? The answer lies in the concept known around the world called ‘Protected Areas’. Before we delve further into the topic of why corporations should care about Protected areas, let's look at what it actually is?

As per Convention on Biological Diversity, a Protected Area is a clear terrestrial space, acknowledged, hard-working and managed through permissible or added effective way, to gain the long-term preservation of type with befriended environment services and enlightening principles. The establishment of comprehensive, ecologically representative, efficiently trained and financially insured protected field networks is a detracting strategy not only for biodiversity preservation, except for securing environment merchandise and services, permissive feeling change adaptation and alleviation, and of course countries attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

The importance of protected areas can be ascertained with the fact of how much it is being prioritized and reinforced by multiple leading intergovernmental agencies like the United Nations, Convention on Biological Diversity, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) among others. It is in fact covered by the UN under their widely accepted and recognized MDGs and SDGs.

If we look into the UN MDGs and SDGs; Protected Areas come under the 7th MDG known as ‘Ensure Environmental Sustainability’ and it is being covered by SDG under principle 15 known as ‘Life On Land’.

Contrary to popular belief, a protected area is not entrusted to be taken care of because of only animals, but also plants and other living beings. It even extends to non-organic or nonliving things such as lakes, soils and rocks. After all, it's not surprising given multiple research over the years that all living organisms are not interconnected to each other but also connected to the non-living things.

Example of how one species extinction can destroy an entire ecosystem.

The Indian Legal System

While the international bodies have been quite active in pushing for conservation of biological diversity and its accompanying ecosystem, corporations operating in India need to be aware about the steps and initiatives taken up by the Indian legal system in defining protected areas and how they have to deal accordingly. Information provided by ENVISoWPA (Environmental Information System on Wildlife & Protected Areas), protected areas (PAs) in India has been majorly divided into

  • National Parks

  • Wildlife Sanctuaries

  • Conservation Reserves

  • Community Reserves

  • Marine Protected Areas

These areas have been protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. We can observe that the Government of India had been quite effective about conservation of protected areas much before the pressure lobbied via Rio De Janeiro Convention in 1992 when PAs were first taken notice. This is also quite evident from the fact that since the enactment of law, our PA network has grown from 574 in 2000 to 987 in 2021.

India accounts for just 2.7% of total surface area of the world yet 27.1% of India is covered by forest as per Forest Survey of India. Moreover, India accounts for 3 biodiversity hotspots around the globe among a total list of 36 (just 2.7% of total surface area of the global land).

All of these facts combined paint a very unique position in which India stands. We are not just a representation of 1.3 billion lives but serve as a guide and hope for all 8 billion life on the planet.

Why do you : a Sustainability Head of a company cares?

Aside from the legal obligations laid down by the Government of India, moral obligations towards other living beings and future generations and ethical obligation as a corporate, there is yet another obligation laid down upon firms and that is ESG Rating and its effects.

ESG rating agencies across the globe put special emphasis on Protected Areas when it comes to ratings. This is in fact a material risk for all manufacturing industries that are situated in non-industrial areas and all industries that either own their mines or source from various mines. These include Semiconductor, Metal, Cement, Mining, Fertilizer, Iron and Steel, Electrical & Electronic among others. All of the companies in such industries are usually legacy companies with their brands being household names. Because of such mining operations (which are near or close to forest areas with less inhabitation), they are also prone to criticism and close watch by Special Interest Group (SIGs), NGOs, Government and International Agencies. A dent in their reputation does not just just have a direct repercussion but also sour the reputation for potential inventors from India and abroad. A bad reputation will be taken seriously by foreign country’s government who can make it difficult for them to enter a foreign country.

So, what could you do?

As a corporation, you might think odds are against you but trust me, it's not! How you might ask?

As discussed above, Indian laws are already very strict with not just Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 but aso Environmental (Protection) Act 1986 which encompass Environmental Impact Assessment and national Green Tribunal. The Indian legal definition on protected areas is in line with IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature) definition already. It is highly likely that your operations might not be in a protected area. You can check some of it here :

  1. IUCN

  2. UNESCO World Heritage Site

  3. UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme

  4. Ramsar Wetland Sites

  5. UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves

  6. Key Biodiversity Areas

Once you have exhausted all the list, you may prepare a table of all operations that are under Protected Area network and those which are not. Be sure to add that you have checkedit using all lists. You can then use the lists to prepare a global map of operations and mark it accordingly.

Both of these then should be added to your Annual Report, Sustainability Report and ESG Report. Be sure to index it properly so that ESG rating agencies can utilize the data. If you are using GRI Index then look up

  • GRI 304-1 - Operational sites owned, leased, managed in, or adjacent to, protected areas and areas of high biodiversity value outside protected areas

  • GRI 304-2 - Significant impacts of activities, products, and services on biodiversity

  • GRI 304-3 - Habitats protected or restored

  • GRI 304-4 - IUCN Red List species and national conservation list species with habitats in areas affected by operations

You can look for more measures such as Biodiversity Impact Assessment (which can also be used for BRSR) and have consultation with experts like Research Institute and agencies such as Sustainify, WWF, IUCN, Nature Conservancy, etc.

So, there you go ! A quick guide to protected areas to make your company’s sustainability initiatives more visible and let it help increase your ESG ratings, increased BRSR guidelines along with increasing your company’s brand reputation. For more Information you can contact us.

Top Stories

Check back soon
Once posts are published, you’ll see them here.
bottom of page