British American Tobacco - Biodiversity and afforestation

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Biodiversity and afforestation

Protecting the environment, protecting ourselves

We have a long-standing commitment to protecting biodiversity, including the prevention of deforestation and fragmentation of habitats.

As a business that depends on forest resources, it’s important that the forests from which wood for tobacco curing, and the paper for use in cigarette manufacture and in packaging, are sourced and managed responsibly. 

Our priority targets are therefore:

  • No gross deforestation of primary and native forests by end 20211 2 3 4
  • Net zero deforestation of managed forests in our supply chain by 2025 1 2 4 5 6 and
  • Net positive impact on forests in our tobacco leaf supply chain by 20252

It is a priority that there is no deforestation of primary and native forests and so we aim for our supply chain to be 100% free of this. Beyond the protection of natural forests, we are also committed to net zero deforestation of managed forests across our tobacco leaf and paper- and pulp-based product supply chains by 2025. This means that for every tree that is chopped down, we will aim for another to be planted by ourselves or others in our supply chain.

And in our tobacco leaf supply chain, of which BAT’s own operations make up a sizable portion, we take this further by aiming to have a net positive impact on forests by 2025. This means that not only will a tree be planted for each one used, but we will strive to have a net positive impact – planting more trees than are removed.

Our approach

Our Group Biodiversity Statement sets out the principles we follow to manage our biodiversity footprint across our operations. The statement is based on a mitigation hierarchy  which describes the steps to avoid, minimise, restore or offset biodiversity loss, wherever we operate.

Group Biodiversity Statement (242 kb) 

Our approach extends across our supply chain as set out above – from tobacco sourcing to the packaging used for our products.

In our tobacco supply chain, we are advancing sustainable agriculture through our world-leading leaf science and a strong team of expert field technicians and agronomy application specialists that support our 84,000+ directly contracted farmers and farming communities worldwide. Our global leaf agronomy centre, based in Brazil, develops new farming techniques and technologies that help tackle various elements of biodiversity impact, such as integrated pest management and drip irrigation techniques, often in partnership with leading universities.

Our expert field technicians support our contracted farmers worldwide by: 

  • Promoting the sustainable use of wood fuels for tobacco curing which has been the long term focus of our deforestation and biodiversity programmes as the key risk area. Since 2016, our monitoring of our contracted farmers’ wood use for curing has shown at least 99% was from sustainable sources;
  • Rolling out the tools and technologies developed by our global leaf agronomy centre;
  • Helping farmers deploy more efficient curing technologies that use up to 30% less fuel, to tackle deforestation; and
  • Providing ongoing training and capacity building. In 2020, there were over 144,000 attendances at farmer training sessions on best practice natural resource preservation, forest and soil management.

In addition to our sustainable agriculture efforts, we support afforestation, biodiversity and environmental conservation programmes around the world as part of our wider community-based initiatives. For example, over the last 40 years, our long-standing afforestation programmes in Bangladesh, Brazil, Pakistan and Vietnam have helped distribute over 330 million tree saplings.

Deforestation can also be caused by unsustainable sourcing of paper and board for use in our products and packaging. To address this, we only source from reputable global suppliers, many of which are certified to Forest Stewardship Council or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification standards.

Collaborative working

We’ve long recognised the importance of collective action to protect and promote biodiversity.

From 2001 to 2015, we worked with three NGOs in the British American Tobacco Biodiversity Partnership: Fauna & Flora International, the Tropical Biology Association and Earthwatch Institute.

The Partnership focused on some of the challenging issues surrounding the conservation and management of biodiversity within agricultural landscapes and the ecosystems on which we depend.

We’re very proud of this 15-year collaboration and what we collectively achieved. Although the Partnership has concluded, our commitment to biodiversity remains a priority and forms an important part of a new, broader programme that focuses on how we support farmers and their livelihoods.

This year, we have become a signatory to Business for Nature’s Call to Action , a global coalition uniting influential organisations and forward-thinking businesses to amplify calls for collective action to reverse nature loss in this decade.

Biodiversity risk and opportunity assessments

The Biodiversity Risk and Opportunity Assessment tool was developed by the Biodiversity Partnership to help our companies identify, assess and address risks arising from their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity and ecosystems in and around their leaf-growing operations. Our tobacco leaf growing operations have completed assessments and initiatives are in place to address the issues identified.

The Biodiversity Risk and Opportunity Assessment tool comprises a ‘how-to’ handbook guide that explains in detail the assessment process and how to follow it. An accompanying spreadsheet helps users to plan, capture information and to complete the assessment process.

Download the Biodiversity Risk and Opportunity Assessment Handbook and spreadsheet

BROA Handbook (2.6mb) 

BROA Spreadsheet (376 kb) 

1 The scope of our supply chain for this commitment is our tobacco leaf and paper and pulp-based products supply chains.
2 Our tobacco leaf supply chain covers BAT contracted farmers and farmers contracted to our strategic third-party suppliers, representing more than 80% of our total leaf purchases in 2020, as reported via our THRIVE assessments.
3 For pulp and paper products, this will focus on net zero deforestation by 2021 for only primary packaging (i.e. a material that is in direct contact with the final product) & fine papers achieved by ensuring these materials we use are certified sustainably sourced in consideration of deforestation.
4 Certified sustainably sourced means that the material is sourced with specific certification related to chain of custody (e.g. FSC/PEFC). BAT will undertake spot verification of these certifications where appropriate
5 All Paper & Pulp based materials = Board & Paper for Primary Packing, Board & Paper for Secondary Packaging, Fine Papers for Cigarette/THP, and Cellulose Acetate Tow for Filters & Marketing Materials.
6 For pulp and paper this will be net zero deforestation by 2025 for 100% paper and pulp based materials achieved by ensuring all materials we use are certified sustainably sourced in consideration of deforestation

Biodiversity enquiry

If you have any questions about the Biodiversity Partnership please contact our Sustainability team using the secure form

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