All project partners who were consulted view the project favourably. They believe that the project is
contributing to the conservation of Myanmar’s biodiversity, and this has been done at no operational, and only minor financial, burden to the companies involved. The initiative has helped companies to successfully manage some non-technical risks associated with operating in a sensitive environment with globally-important biodiversity. The TNRP compensates for some impacts on biodiversity caused by the pipelines and support facilities, which has helped to address stakeholder concerns. In addition, protection of the forest area around the pipeline has reportedly reduced the risk of erosion damage to pipelines and might have contributed to improved security along the pipeline.
The project started in 2005 and is proposed to continue for the lifetime of the pipelines (at least 2028). Payments come from three gas pipeline companies as compensation for impacts on biodiversity along the pipeline route.
Project partners (three pipeline companies and the Myanmar Forest Department [FD]) agree four-year work plans and budgets. The budget was $1.2 million for each of the first two phases (2005-2012), and $1.8 million for the third phase (2013-2016).
The model is a simple compensation system, with flat payments made to the FD to implement conservation activities as they see fit. The model was not developed as a biodiversity offset.
This review revealed that the project has broadly met its stated goals and objectives:
- The companies have met their financial commitments.
- Stakeholder criticism of pipeline biodiversity impacts has been limited.
- A protected area has been established and managed since 2005, with socio-economic development programmes delivered to surrounding communities.
- The capacity of FD staff involved in the TNRP has been improved.
Project success has influenced key government decision makers and provided an environment for the
development of a more effective national model.
Current best-practice in compensating for industry impacts on biodiversity centres on use of the mitigation hierarchy, including biodiversity offsetting. We reviewed the TNRP against International Finance Corporation Performance Standard 6 (IFC PS6), the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program standard (BBOP 2012) and other key guidance.
The pipelines and TNRP were not originally developed to be in alignment with these standards and the TNRP is not an offset. The TNRP thus does not meet current mitigation or offsetting best-
practice in many areas. Our review does, however, highlight key lessons learned for the TNRP – particularly if it is adapted as a model for wider use in Myanmar:
- Impact assessments should thoroughly analyse direct and indirect impacts on biodiversity.
- The mitigation hierarchy should be followed during the construction and operation of infrastructure.
- In order to identify how much compensation is enough, it is necessary to quantify biodiversity losses from development impacts and gains from conservation activities.
- Monitoring of actions on the ground is the only way to determine their success in mitigating residual impacts and reducing background rates of loss in biodiversity.