Biodiversity and sensitive areas

We take steps to understand and manage the potential impacts of our operations on protected and sensitive areas

BP operates in diverse environments around the world, from the desert to the deep sea. Some of these areas may be of cultural significance, important for protected or globally threatened species, or contain an ecosystem with outstanding biological, geographical or social value.

Protected areas

Some of our operations are situated in or close to areas that have national and international protected area status. We report on our major operations in and around protected areas, including those designated as protected by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (categories I-IV, V-VI and unassigned), UNESCO World Heritage sites and sites designated under the Ramsar Convention.

We review the location of our operations in relation to protected areas annually. Five of our major operations have activities within the boundary of a protected area. This number may fluctuate annually as protected area designations are reviewed.

BP shipping, a major operation, also enters protected areas as part of normal operations.

Major operating sites in and around a protected area in 2015ᵃ

Type of protected area
Type of protected area
Inside the boundary
Inside the boundary
Adjacent (within 1km)
Adjacent (within 1km)
Near (1 - 5km)
Near (1 - 5km)
Close (5 - 20km)
Close (5 - 20km)
Type of protected area
World Heritage site
Inside the boundary
2
Adjacent (within 1km)
0
Near (1 - 5km)
2
Close (5 - 20km)
1
Type of protected area
Ramsar site
Inside the boundary
1
Adjacent (within 1km)
2
Near (1 - 5km)
2
Close (5 - 20km)
4
Type of protected area
IUCN category I-IV
Inside the boundary
5
Adjacent (within 1km)
5
Near (1 - 5km)
10
Close (5 - 20km)
15
Type of protected area
IUCN category V-VI
Inside the boundary
2
Adjacent (within 1km)
3
Near (1 - 5km)
7
Close (5 - 20km)
10
Type of protected area
IUCN not reported (unassigned)
Inside the boundary
1
Adjacent (within 1km)
1
Near (1 - 5km)
3
Close (5 - 20km)
2
Type of protected area
Total major operations
Inside the boundary
5
Adjacent (within 1km)
7
Near (1 - 5km)
13
Close (5 - 20km)
18
ᵃ A major operation may exist within or near more than one type of protected area. 

Managing impacts

Where our screening process indicates that a proposed project’s planned activities could affect, or may enter a protected area, we require executive approval before any physical activities take place. We then proceed with a detailed impact assessment and identify ways to first avoid, or secondly minimize, any potential impacts. No new BP project sought permission for entry into an international protected area in 2015.

Understanding ecological diversity in Brazil

We supported research conducted by the University of Oxford and Brasilia University to characterize the plant diversity in the Cerrado, a sensitive savannah habitat surrounding our biofuels operations. The research identified more than 2,800 plant specimens and 900 species. This will help inform BP’s local environmental management efforts, including reforestation and other programmes to maintain and restore local biodiversity.

Marine environments

BP has a strong deepwater portfolio and we work to understand how our operations may affect marine ecosystems. For example, we are working on a multi-year study of the biological and socio-economic importance of the Great Australian Bight (GAB) with our research partners in Australia. More than 360 species samples were collected in 2015 and results are being analysed. Findings will help inform management of the GAB and are available at misa.net.au/GAB.  

We also aim to minimize potential impacts from sound to the marine environment. For example, when making modifications to our offshore infrastructure in the North Sea, we monitored for marine mammals so that activities only began when none were present. We gradually increased sound energy so as not to expose marine mammals that may enter the area to any sudden or loud sounds during the start-up of activities.

We take steps to explore the characteristics of ambient sound in environments where we work to determine how our activities may contribute to the underwater soundscape. In Angola, we have monitoring stations that gather ocean data, including sound. This helps us to understand long-term patterns in the deepwater environment, including sound associated with our activities. 

BP also participates in the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers’ sound and marine life joint industry programme. The programme supports scientific research to increase the understanding of how sound generated by the oil and gas industry may impact marine life. We incorporate the knowledge and tools generated by the programme to minimize impacts from our operations. For example, in some locations we use PAMGuard, a software tool that helps detect sounds from marine mammals during our seismic operations.

Attestation

The information on this page forms part of the information reviewed and reported on by Ernst & Young as part of BP's 2015 sustainability reporting. View the full assurance statement.

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