Biodiversity: providing a targeted response for each ecosystem

Giraffe at the Murchison national parc, in Ouganda Girafe près d’un rig en Ouganda

We deploy the necessary resources to preserve biodiversity everywhere we operate and focus on ensuring the sustainability of ecosystems and the services they provide to local communities. Total is active in more than 130 countries and in extremely varied ecosystems. For this reason, our approach to biodiversity is designed to provide a targeted response for each specific situation.

Why it matters

Humans depend on other species to provide a wide variety of services, from producing oxygen to pollinating flowers. Preserving biodiversity promotes the development and well-being of every living organism. Yet biodiversity is sometimes threatened. Significant legislative changes are under way to address this problem at both the national and international levels. Total is not simply interested in complying with regulatory requirements. For us, preserving biodiversity everywhere we operate means preserving the heritage and lifestyle of each local community.

Biodiversity: our approach and guidelines for daily action

Our very clear objective is to avoid impacting biodiversity as much as possible everywhere we operate throughout the entire life cycle of our facilities and products.

We do this by:

  • Taking tangible measures to avoid, reduce, mitigate and, when necessary, compensate for any loss of biodiversity. We deploy this approach throughout the project life cycle to minimize the impact of our operations on biodiversity and, if the situation allows, help create a positive impact.
  • Taking ecosystem sensitivity into account. We implement enhanced assessment and monitoring procedures in regions where biodiversity is particularly sensitive and apply strict environmental requirements that can go beyond the demands of current legislation and regulations. In addition, we have made a voluntary commitment to refrain from operating in certain regions.

Sensitive habitats: Our commitment

Total has made a commitment to refrain from prospecting or exploiting oil and gas in natural sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as at June 4, 2013. At present, Total rules out any exploration in oil fields located in the ice pack.

Read also

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Total operates near Virunga National Park, a fragile wilderness area.
  • Managing biodiversity. Our environmental management system (EMS) systematically integrates the management of risks and impacts on biodiversity. We are particularly attentive to ecosystem services related to climate and water resources. From the outset, each industrial project includes an assessment of biodiversity risk through a baseline study and an impact study. This risk is regularly monitored at every stage of the project, until the last unit is dismantled.
  • Reporting. Total reports to its stakeholders on its performance with regard to biodiversity.

Find out more on our Sustainable Performance site.

Yemen LNG: Coral at the center of our marine biodiversity action plan

We discovered vibrant coral reefs during the pre-project studies for the Yemen LNG liquefaction plant in Balhaf, on the country's southern coast. As a result, our experts modified the initial construction plans to limit the impact on the ocean currents, coral and fish population. In making these decisions, we consulted with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the local nature conservation authority.
Certain coral colonies that could not be avoided were relocated so that they could thrive in conditions similar to those in their original habitat. This transplantation, carried out by Total's teams, was the largest ever undertaken worldwide.

Deepening knowledge about biodiversity

It is essential that we gain a better understanding of ecosystems, and scientific research has a key role to play in this effort. Our environment teams at the Lacq research center in southern France are involved in the drive to deepen our knowledge about biodiversity.

Because a detailed analysis of the local environment is required to assess an area's sensitivity, we work closely with local experts whose knowledge of the area gives us insight into the biodiversity-related challenges and helps us determine the appropriate measures to be taken. For example, we partner locally and globally with international organizations involved in protecting biodiversity such as the United Nations Environment Programme through the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) and its Proteus program, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and more specialized initiatives and organizations like the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program (BBOP) and Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité.

We also collaborate with professional organizations such as IPIECA (the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues) and its Biodiversity working group and the Cross Sector Biodiversity Initiative.

Lastly, our corporate foundation has supported biodiversity research for more than 20 years as part of its mission.