Location: Uganda

Client: EACOP

Service: Environment and Biodiversity

Critical Habitat Survey

In compliance with International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standard 6 (IFC, 2012), EACOP started Critical Habitat Assessment (CHA) during the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process in 2017. The ESIA indicated that the Projects may have direct or indirect impacts on areas of Natural Habitat and Critical Habitat including Protected and Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs).

As is a requirement by law, CNOOC Uganda Limited undertook an Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) baseline survey for the planned oil and gas development and production project in the Kingfisher Field Development Area (KFDA). The ESIA was aligned with the IFC Performance Standard 6 (IFC 2019) which prioritises the protection and conservation of biodiversity. The standard requires that ‘the risks and impacts identification process consider relevant threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services especially focusing on habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, invasive alien species, overexploitation, hydrological changes, nutrient loading, and pollution’. To achieve this, the standard outlines ideal strategies for management of impacts on biodiversity for both modified and natural habitats including critical habitats. Critical habitats represent areas with the high biodiversity value including habitat of significant importance to Critically Endangered and/or Endangered species (Stefan et al, 2013). The standard recommends avoidance where critical habitats may be affected unless specific criteria (outlined in Guidance Note 17 of the standard) are demonstrated. These include an exhaustive analysis of alternatives; a requirement that the project does not degrade values for which critical habitat status was designated and a robust monitoring program, among others. As such, the ESIA baseline survey sought to determine presence or absence of valued species to assess whether or not the project area of influence constitutes a critical habitat.

According to IFC (2012) performance standard 6 paragraph 16, a ‘Critical habitat’ is an area with high biodiversity value, and has to fall under the following criterion;

  1. Habitat of significant importance to Critically Endangered and/or Endangered species
  2. Habitat of significant importance to endemic and/or restricted-range species
  3. Habitat supporting globally significant concentrations of migratory species and/or congregatory species
  4. Highly threatened and/or unique ecosystems
  5. Areas associated with key evolutionary processes.

The KFDA was found to have areas which qualify to be classified as critical habitats basing on IFC performance standard 6 paragraph 16 criterion (i) and (iv), which triggered an analysis to identify possible triggers of critical habitat within the landscape surrounding the KFDA. The analysis identified three critical species namely; Common chimpanzee, Grey Crowned Crane and Nahan’s Francolin as one of these potential triggers. A critical species is any species that has an extremely high risk of extinction in the near future as categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN, 2016).


    Plot No.16A Ntinda II Road,
    P.O. Box 23989, Kampala, Uganda
    +256 319291830