Despite the documented presence of high biodiversity values, the preliminary baseline studies included in Environmental Impact Assessment studies (EIAs) in developing countries are often very generic, rely on limited primary data and do not include comprehensive biodiversity baseline surveys including habitat mapping and data on marine fauna aligned with the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) requirements. This becomes a critical issue for companies or financing institutions (IFIs) applying specific standards on biodiversity conservation and protection such as IFC PS6 and EBRD PR6, as well as other recognizes requirements, in the decision making process when studies are located within or in close proximity to legally protected areas, Important Bird Areas, Key Biodiversity Areas and, in general, areas of relevance from a biodiversity conservation perspective. This study presents the rationale and outcomes of a phased biodiversity study (Phased BIA) that has been developed to improve knowledge and fill initial gaps identified in the EIA study of an O&G development project in Egypt, Red Sea. The Phased BIA included:

  • a desktop review of biodiversity baseline conditions with preliminary identification of existing habitats and presence of species;

  • a desktop biodiversity habitat mapping with identification of potential modified, natural and critical habitats;

  • the definition of specific coastal and marine biodiversity surveys within the Project area of influence;

  • a subsequent habitat mapping refinement exercise following "Ground-Truthing" techniques and drafting of habitat maps with the aim to provide a more robust and reliable impact assessment.


In the preliminary baseline studies of an Environmental Impact Assessment (hereafter EIA), the terms primary data and secondary data are common parlance, with the latter usually more common than the former. Primary data is collected on field by experts for the specific purpose under consideration, in this case understanding the baseline elements in which a project will be developed, and its impacts will possibly occur. Secondary data analysis, on the other hand, is the use of data that was collected by someone else for some other purpose, sometimes similar, sometimes very different.

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