Login | Register |

Knowledge Base

Search and create Best Practices, Resources, and Peer Reviews

Ambatovy Biodiversity Offset Program and Qit Madagascar Minerals Landscape Approaches: How impact mitigation in mining can contribute to national conservation goals in Madagascar


In alignment with national EIA regulations, and IFC performance standards on sustainability and the biodiversity conservation, Ambatovy and Qit Madagascar Mining have combined environmental and social impact assessments, a mitigation hierarchy and adaptive management to achieve “no net loss,” and preferably a net gain, for biodiversity.The mitigation hierarchy includes the processes of avoidance, minimization and restoration, with offsetting, to compensate for residual impacts. Minimization measures include paced directional forest clearing, salvage and the rescue of priority species of fauna and flora, the and maintenance of biological forests. Ambatovy and Qit Madagascar Minerals are committed to the restoration of the mine footprint. To offset residual losses, Ambatovy and Qit Madagascar Minerals is perfecting the offset design and the landscape approach, and implementing the established offsets through conservation, strategic livelihood investments and environmental awareness raising. The offset program and the landscape approach are based on averting losses and gaining a positive net impact, in the context of significant background deforestation rates. It is also based on a composite approach that uses multiple offsets to maximize biodiversity gains and minimize risk.

Problem, challenge or context: 

At the World Parks Congress in Durban, in 2003, the Malagasy Government, led by President Ravalomanana pledged to triple the protected areas in Madagascar to 10% of the land surface area. Malagasy actors, in collaboration with various partners, have recently achieved this ambitious objective. Meanwhile, the rapidly growing interest of investors in the extractives sector in Madagascar, which has the potential to transform national economic development, represents a significant dilemma. Natural resource exploitation has significant impact on Madagascar's biodiversity through habitat clearing, which threatens biodiversity and ecosystems. Through compensation of these residual impacts, and with conservation objectives, the biodiversity offset approach offers a potential solution that allows harmony between protected area conservation and the rapidly developing mining sector.

Specific elements of components: 
  1. Environmental & social impact assessment & monitoring;
  2. Basing environmental management on the mitigation hierarchy; and
  3. Monitoring of key biodiversity & social indicators.
Key lessons learned: 
  1. The lack of standards in Malagasy mining regulations, specifically for physical parameters, e.g. copper dissolved, nitrate) results in environmental degradation. In this project, international standards were applied to overcome this need. (
  2. There are differences in loss and gain calculations among the two largest-scale mining operations (Ambatovy, QMM); therefore, iterations and standardizations are needed. In the Ambatovy case, two iterations are already done, a third iteration is needed to include conservation success in loss and gain calculations.
  3. It is challenging to ensure sustainability of offsets.
  4. The impacts and outcomes of the solution need to be monitored, e.g. what happened as a result of the solution?
  5. More collaboration with the protected areas neighboring the mine and offset area is needed.
  6. It is necessary to consider a landscape approach in the two largest-scale mining projects in Madagascar.
  7. It is important to implement the same programs in both the offset area and protected area. This includes biodiversity monitoring, environmental education and awareness and livelihood investments.
Impacts and outcomes: 
  1. More collaboration with protected areas neighbors of the mine and the offset area.
  2. Undertaking a landscape approach in the two largest-scale mining in Madagascar.
  3. Conducting the same programs in the offset and protected area: biodiversity monitoring, environmental education and awareness and livelihood investments.
Contact details: 
Laurent Ampilahy, Office National pour l'Environnement, Madagascar
13 users have voted.