"Biodiversity Check Agrícola", supporting the farms to do better in biodiversity conservation
From September 2018 to March 2019, the SAN worked together with the Biodiversity and Business in Central America and the Dominican Republic a Program implemented by the Germany´s development cooperation, GIZ, in the design and development of the Biodiversity Check Agrícola (BCA), a voluntary tool for evaluating and improving biodiversity conservation practices in medium and large agricultural farms in the region.
The project concluded successfully and included not only the final design of the tool with a new base structure of 18 environmental goals, but the development of a Guide for Advisors and the training of a total of 31 professionals in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic that will be able to implement the BCA as on-farm consultants.
To reach the final version of BCA (which includes lists of pesticides with their corresponding environmental toxicity), field trials were carried out with sugarcane in Guatemala, with bananas in Costa Rica and with pineapples in the Dominican Republic.
The SAN initiated the development and validation of the BCA in September 2018, based on an initial draft of the Biodiversity and Business Program. The first proposal contained guiding questions and additional topics covered by the 2018 SAN Sustainable Agriculture Framework (SAF).
From field tests and trainings, which involved representatives of NGOs, private consultants, members of the academy, ministries of agriculture and government institutes, the BCA was refined until it reached its final version.
The guide that accompanies the BCA is addressed to future advisors and gives them more detailed information on how to implement the tool in the field.
The Biodiversity Check Agrícola is a completely voluntary model that adapts some steps from certifications schemes to its application process and is a tool designed specifically for medium and large agricultural farms. It has 18 goals with its guiding questions focused on biodiversity conservation and the services provided by ecosystems.
The final goal of the BCA is that farms, based on a verification of their practices according to the tool, elaborate and execute action plans to integrate biodiversity into business management.
In addition, it seeks to raise awareness and ensure that companies recognize the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
"The Agricultural Biodiversity Check and its application process have the potential to position themselves as a leading tool to promote changes in favor of biodiversity on farms in the Central America and Dominican Republic region," explains Oliver Bach, SAN technical manager and general coordinator of the project.
According to Bach, "for the potential of the BCA to be deployed and move the farms to a high level of biodiversity conservation, it will be essential to be transparent about the claims farms can make about their achievements in their markets and that they are managed and monitor the long-term quality of the program."