Balhaf Headland Marine Area

Country: Yemen (Coordinates: 13.976768, 48.176799 )
Size: 1,816 Hectares
Ecoregion: Marine - Tropical Coral
Status: Audited

ON HOLD - Unfortunately, because of the situation in the country, Yemen LNG had to stop its operations in the middle of 2015. This includes all of its activities at the Balhaf facility. Thus management of the Balhaf Headland Marine Area VCA is currently on hold. Once operations resume, the company intends to revitalise the conservation management of the Balhaf Headland Marine Area and to begin reporting on its conservation performance through the VCA Registry.

The Balhaf Cape Headland is the first promontory into the Gulf of Aden along the south coast of Yemen. It represents the start of a rocky shore environment that runs eastwards from Balhaf cape past Bir Ali 100 km to Burum. Balhaf is the point of change from the 400 km of sandy beach running back westwards to Aden. Thus, Balhaf consists of a sandy coastline in the eastern part. The rocky area further west is formed by basaltic flows caused by volcanic activity. Some inactive old volcanoes and caldera can be found along the coastline.

The Balhaf Headland is now managed and protected by Yemen LNG which operates a liquefied natural gas production and shipping facility there. The company had a Biodiversity Action Plan for the construction phase which was monitored from 2009-2011 by an IUCN Independent Review Panel. It then developed a Framework Biodiversity Action Plan for the operations phase with technical inputs from the IUCN advisers.

In 2014, the Yemen LNG Company partnered with the IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme to register Balhaf Harbour as a Verified Conservation Area. At a later date, the company plans to extend the VCA registration to include the terrestrial component of its site at Balhaf.

Biodiversity management is integrated into Yemen LNG’s overall environmental and social management. With technical inputs from IUCN, the company prepared a new Biodiversity Action Plan for its marine area for the operations phase. This included a site visit by an IUCN team in April 2014 and a second site visit and an on-site multi-stakeholder workshop in October 2014. A fully revised BAP for the operations phase was drafted in early 2015 and audited by an IUCN team member is who is also an approved VCA Auditor. The company approved the plan and the audit in June 2015 to enable the marine area to be registered as a VCA.

This listing is illustrative of how an industrial site can become a Verified Conservation Area as a way to demonstrate positive action for biodiversity and as a way to integrate these biodiversity actions into a company’s overall strategy, plan and budget for environmental responsibility. Maintaining VCA registration over time – by submitting audited conservation performance reports annually – will provide on-going assurance to shareholders, lenders, government regulators, local communities and others that the company is managing the Balhaf Headland to protect its marine biodiversity.

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