Abstract

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) and South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP) projects comprise two long-distance pipelines passing through a region globally renowned for its biodiversity value. The paper describes the biodiversity challenges faced by the projects and the solutions.

Introduction

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) and South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP) projects comprise two long-distance pipelines passing through a region globally renowned for its biodiversity value.

The engineering challenge has been to:

  • Route two pipelines generally laid 30m apart crossing 1760km in the case of BTC and 690 km for SCP over widely differing terrain;

  • Design the lines to reach a height of 2,800m crossing the Caucasus;

  • Enable the line to be buried along the entire route;

  • Ensure compliance with international design standards.

The biodiversity challenge has been to:

  • Minimise impacts on biodiversity;

  • In cases where impacts are unavoidable to implement effective mitigation to reduce effects;

  • Ensure compliance with international and national commitments and project sponsor policies;

  • Integrate biodiversity requirements with others project constraints i.e. social, engineering, security;

  • Work within a framework whereby resources for biodiversity protection are limited and land use pressures result in environmental degradation;

  • Address the potential for biodiversity benefits for the project areas.

The projects are committed to integrating biodiversity considerations into their practices and this paper outlines how the biodiversity challenges have been met.

Biodiversity Interest of the Project Region

The Caspian and Trans-Caucasus region, which is taken to encompass Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, provides a globally valuable biodiversity resource. The rich diversity is due to a combination of factors, including climatic and topographic variability, which has resulted in geographical and ecological isolation allowing the evolution of new floral and faunal species and accounting for the high level of endemism. Georgia has the highest biodiversity index (a measure of species diversity and area) in Europe (1), while in Turkey over 30% of all known species of higher plants are endemic, or unique to the region. The importance of the region is recognized through a number of designations applicable to various areas e.g. a Biodiversity Hotspot (see Figure 1); Global 200 Ecoregions; Centres of Plant Diversity (CPD); Endemic Bird Area (EBA); Important Bird Areas (IBAs); Important Plant Areas (IPAs), Ramsar sites. The International Conservation Union (IUCN) maintains a list of globally threatened species of flora and fauna, a number of which occur in the region e.g. Caucasian Black Grouse Tetrao mlokosiewiczi, Wild Goat Capra aegagrus, the orchid Ophrys reinholdii ssp. leucotaenia.

Countries in the Caspian and Caucasus region have signed the United Nations International Convention on Biodiversity obliges signatories to implement a national action planning process, to take action on biodiversity issues and a need to conserve, sustainably use, equitably share biodiversity resources. As such, the countries have, or are in the process of, producing Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs).

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