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BAT protecting biodiversity at tobacco plantations

Challenge

Understand impact of environmental change on future business.

Problem

Tobacco leaf farming in Lombok, Indonesia, was not only contributing to deforestation but also to declining water supply on the island.

Solution

British American Tobacco (BAT) developed a methodology for assessing risks to their business from leaf farming operations around the world. The tool, called Broa (Biodiversity Risk and Opportunity Assessment), covers a wider set of indicators than normally used in procurement. The tool has been used across BAT’s supply chain since 2010. In assessing biodiversity in this way, BAT is building strategies to tackle business threats as well as improve its social and environmental performance in the communities it relies on.

Using the tool, BAT discovered the interdependence with local ecosystems for tobacco farming such as water supply, other crops grown alongside and the effects of deforestation. Partnering with the Earthwatch Institute, Fauna & Flora International and the Tropical Biology Association, BAT has begun to address these issues in Indonesia and start projects elsewhere such as a “green corridor” project in the Araucaria forest of southern Brazil; sustainable forest management and freshwater protection in Uganda; and research on returning eucalyptus plantations to native forests in Sri Lanka and Chile.

BAT is now updating Broa with lessons learnt and sharing the tool with all suppliers and other agriculture-based businesses facing similar challenges.

Benefits

Protection of raw materials source
Improved relationships with communities
Hard data to support decisions on projects to mitigate business risk

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