Spatial limits of the BCP

Simplifying mapping for IP and LC participants

BCPs do not need to provide complex spatial data, such as habitat mapping data to be eligible under this methodology. Many ecosystem classification systems and the tools for that classification are incomplete, untested, or financially and technically exclusive. IP and LC projects may not have access to sophisticated techniques such as satellite habitat mapping, eDNA, machine-learning for soundscapes, infrared drones, or LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) — all of which are still experimental technologies that expose IP and LC projects to risk if they are not as accurate as assumed. Thus we have intentionally simplified technologies and tools for describing projects spatially.

Instead, the methodology has been designed such that in the future, IP and LC could simply provide a .kml file with project boundaries, and access public data for ecosystem quantification.

It is assumed that the animals themselves provide sufficient evidence for the integrity of the conserved ecosystem under study, as indicator species are selected specifically for their ability to represent intact ecosystems by their very presence (Integrity calculations).

However, the spatial limits of the BCP must be explicitly defined in the PMP for land rights, Indigenous rights, and crediting algorithms.

Data layers

A BCP may contain three spatial data layers: areas, indicator species observations, and segments. These must be identified and delimited.

  • Segments can be used for projects that overlap two different ecosystems (ie. ocean , coastline, and mangrove), or two different jurisdictional areas (ie, different landowners).

Observations data layer

This data layer is generated by direct observations of the union of home ranges of indicator species during project implementation (Area calculation)

Project area data layer

There are distinct project areas within a BCP, which may contain intact ecosystems as well as adjacent land, or ecosystems with some level of disruption.

Project areas are described below and depicted in Figure 4a.

  • Reference area is the geographical region or ecosystem(s) where the analysis of agents and drivers of biodiversity loss is carried out, and indicator species are defined. It should be bounded by micro-watersheds overlapping or adjacent to the BCP area. It is the broadest region of the BCP and includes all the other areas. The reference area must be defined in a geographic information system. It must include habitat areas and may or may not include non-habitat areas. The reference area is not subject to monitoring but must be re-evaluated in case of a reworking of the baseline scenario.

  • Project area is the legally enrolled land within the BCP. This is the area where the BCP has permission or contract to issue biodiversity credits within (Eligibility criteria). It is explicitly dedicated to biodiversity conservation, under contract with the BCP, and where the VBCs will be generated and rewards distributed. In grouped projects, land plots cannot overlap.

  • Crediting area is the intersection of indicator species observations and project area. Crediting areas may be segmented for ecosystems (different indicator species) or jurisdictional (crossing the border between two countries, or outside a legally protected area).

  • Potential leakage area is radically simplified for IP and LC inclusion to the area home ranges of species observed within, but extending beyond the Project area, animals likely ranging beyond crediting areas, this signal can be easily monitored from ongoing project data. If the analysis of agents and causes of biodiversity loss defines further drivers a BCP may decide to expand this area and describe and monitor a leakage management area for preventive action (Additional monitoring requirements).

  • (Optional) Project activities area this optional area can be described by BCPs but is not required. One aim of the methodology is to allow for a wide, and fluid range of locally-determined activities and reward for outcomes — thus stimulating experimentation from IP and LCs who know their ecosystems better than outside agents.

Figure 4a. Diagram of spatial areas of BCP

In developing your project, it's crucial to distinguish between the reference area and the project area or crediting area. The reference area refers to the entire geographical extent of the project, which might include both areas designated for conservation and other regions, such as infrastructure, human settlements, or areas that do not contribute to the project's biodiversity conservation objectives.

Some BCPs may obtain written permission to use indicator-species observations generated outside the project area, where home ranges extend within the project area but all observations must fall within the reference area as described below.

As LCs frequently have small land plots, project area may not always be contiguous and could consist of multiple separate patches within the reference area. Each of these patches should contribute to the project's conservation goals, and their combined extent defines the project area.

IP projects may be grouped with neighboring LCs in grouped projects. This is encouraged when all parties agree as it contributes to conservation outcomes. This difference does not require segmentation as it is merely a difference in land ownership, but it will require different inclusion parameters and FPIC protocols (Appendix K).

In summary, crediting area is confined to the legally enrolled land, which is covered by a union of indicator species home ranges normalized to a circle. (Area calculations). Home ranges that overlap legally enrolled land compose an important metric, the potential leakage area (Spatial limits).

Segments data layer

Projects that have substantial differences within the project area will need to be segmented for crediting. The most common reasons a project must be segmented are the following:

  • Ecosystems may change within the project area. For instance a large project that crosses ocean, to coastline, to mangrove swamps will have completely different ecosystem baseline classifications and indicator species.

  • Threat many projects may protect the borders of ecosystems with different threat levels, and thus different crediting values. (see Value calculations). Indicator species observations must be segmented for accurate crediting.

  • Jurisdiction while projects that overlap countries borders must credit separately under Cercarbonos standard, grouped projects may overlap regional boundaries with different governing parameters such as states.

Figure 4b. Project area with satellite mapping

Mapping guidelines

Please follow these guidelines when mapping your project, and determining its boundaries:

  • Ecosystems: In line with the focus on maintaining and enhancing biodiversity within functional intact ecosystems, the boundary should primarily encompass regions that maintain their ecological processes. If the project contains more than one ecosystem, it needs to be segmented by ecosystem. (Baseline ecosystem characterization).

  • Geographic description: You will need to provide a detailed geographic description of the project area in the PMP. This should include information about its physical characteristics (e.g., topography, climate), ecological features (e.g., ecosystem types, key species), and human aspects (e.g., land use, local communities). Describe any factors that might influence the project's implementation or outcomes.

  • Maps: Include clear and detailed maps of the project and activity areas. Maps should include the project's geographic boundary and important features within it. Features could include habitat types, locations of key habitats, areas of particular conservation interest, ecosystem boundaries, and human settlements or infrastructure. Whenever possible, maps should be produced with GIS software or handheld GPS devices to ensure accuracy and clarity.

  • Boundary justification: Provide a justification for the chosen boundary. Explain how the boundary aligns with the home range of the chosen indicator species and encompasses a functional intact ecosystem. Discuss any considerations or challenges encountered in defining the boundary, and how these were addressed.

  • Indigenous lands: Include clear information about Indigenous lands included within or near the project area. Indigenous lands have different requirements for legal enrollment and must clearly delineated (See Appendix K) .

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