Growing demand for land is putting pressure on ecosystems, communities and plant and animal species. Companies that do not adequately consider the impacts of their physical presence may cause irreversible degradation to natural processes and resources that they and others rely on, and may undermine the wellbeing of local communities.
The requirement is to eliminate negative impacts in areas of high biological, ecological, social or cultural value. Companies must protect such areas where they are already present, and must refrain from expanding into new areas if degradation of some kind is possible.
Examples of what is required include but are not limited to:
- Protecting primary forest (e.g. no clearing of rainforest for farm land).
- Respecting the land rights of communities (e.g. zero tolerance on land grabbing).
- Not introducing invasive species that could affect local ecosystems.
- Protecting aquatic ecosystems from degradation (e.g. diverting sea traffic away from endangered coral reefs).
- Avoiding encroaching on areas of religious/sacred importance to local communities or indigenous peoples.