Defining and understanding the habitats in which a company is operating is a key step toward the reduction of impacts on biodiversity. Identification of vegetation types is a commonly-used method for mapping an area of operations, and these vegetation types are often used as a surrogate for plant and animal habitats, but defining these types too finely may result in limited biological importance of these types for plants and animals, and may complicate the conservation planning process. Instead, habitat maps based on more coarse-scale but biologically important data such as elevation and geologic history can result in more useful maps of plant and animal communities and can lead to better land management during operations. We created habitat maps for Blocks 39 and 57 in northeastern and south central Peru, respectively, using Landsat imagery and elevation data. In Block 39, three different geological formations, or habitat types, were identified in the map, while four were identified in Block 57. In order to confirm that the habitats identified in this study are biologically distinct in terms of plant and animal communities, CCES researchers assessed soil samples and a variety of taxonomic groups including ferns, birds, bats, amphibians and reptiles in each. The protocol requires a minimum of five days sampling for each taxonomic group in a minimum of four different areas within each distinct habitat in order to ensure thorough data collection. We then use this data to test and redefine the boundaries of habitats, and to identify habitats with communities of plants and animals of special conservation concern. In the cases of Blocks 39 and 57, recommendations were made to the company regarding where to avoid or limit operations, in order to reduce negative impacts on special habitats and improve the likelihood and cost-effectiveness of habitat restoration post-operations.

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