BASF Report 2022

Material Topics in Focus: Biodiversity

BASF is committed to preserving biodiversity at different sites. At the former Rensselaer manufacturing site in upstate New York, for example, a biodiversity project is improving ecological conditions and providing space for indigenous plants such as the oxeye sunflower, as well as foraging and nesting areas for a variety of animals.

The graphic depicts the different stations along the value chain. The topics in each chapter address the station shown in light blue. (here: Suppliers, BASF, Customers) (graphic)

Biodiversity describes the variety of life forms on Earth. The loss of this diversity weakens ecosystems’ ability to withstand changes such as climate change and poses a global challenge. As a chemical company, we depend on ecosystem services like the availability of renewable resources and high air, water and soil quality, while also influencing them. Protecting biodiversity is a key element of our commitment to sustainability.

At a glance

  • Strategic alignment of our biodiversity measures based on impact assessments
  • Commitment to preserving biodiversity along the entire value chain, for example, with strategic partnerships


Our specific measures along the entire value chain help to preserve biodiversity and meet our responsibility to the environment and society. Our corporate sustainability goals on climate protection, the circular economy, water management and responsible procurement also help to protect biodiversity. The United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – including Life below water (SDG 14) and Life on land (SDG 15) – serve as important orientation and reference frameworks for BASF.

We align our biodiversity measures with the impact of our business activities along the value chain. Our focus here is on three areas: sites and production, product impact and supply chains. The five drivers of biodiversity loss defined by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services are land-use change, climate change, pollution, overexploitation and invasive species. We counteract climate change – and in this way, help to preserve biodiversity – with our climate protection measures. We are committed to combating habitat loss, overexploitation and environmental pollution with activities along various value chains, including palm and palm kernel oil.

To be able to take the right measures, we need to understand how our actions affect the biodiversity of the affected ecosystems. Measuring biodiversity is a challenge, as a global indicator – like greenhouse gas emissions for climate change – does not yet exist. This is because the local context also has to be taken into account when assessing impact.

We use various methods to measure our sustainability performance that implicitly and explicitly consider relevant risks and opportunities for biodiversity. These include the Eco-Efficiency Analysis, SEEbalance®, Sustainable Solution Steering as well as AgBalance® with its biodiversity calculator. We use indicators such as nitrogen emissions to water to measure drivers of biodiversity loss, and indicators such as species occurrence to assess the status of ecosystems. In addition, we regularly test various analysis tools available on the market. Newly developed assessment methods help us to understand further influences on biodiversity. On the basis of this understanding, we seek dialog with partners and enter into strategic partnerships, through which we drive forward measures to protect biodiversity around the world.

An internal working group addresses company-wide governance and the systematic identification of risks and opportunities arising from biodiversity.

Responsibility to our sites and production

Preservation of biodiversity is taken into consideration in the management of our sites. We strive to operate our facilities in a responsible manner and minimize negative effects on the environment (driver of biodiversity loss: pollution) by keeping air, water and soil emissions as low as possible and reducing and avoiding waste (see Emissions to Air, Waste and Remediation).

Conservation areas play a valuable role in preserving biodiversity and natural habitats. In 2021, we added an indicator to our environmental database: proximity of production site to internationally recognized protected areas. We use databases such as the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) here. This allows us to raise awareness of biodiversity at local level and assess and, if necessary, reduce potential impacts of our sites on these areas. In 2022, 5% of our production sites were adjacent to a Ramsar site1 and 1% were adjacent to a category I, II or III protected area as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.2 None of our production sites were adjacent to a UNESCO protected area.

We have adopted biodiversity as a criterion in processes such as our risk management. In addition, we systematically consider sustainability aspects when deciding whether to invest in the construction of new sites or expand existing ones. Aspects assessed include the potential impacts on forests and biodiversity.

We are also implementing local measures to protect biodiversity at a number of sites. For example, at 13 sites in North America, biodiversity projects are regularly audited and certified by the NGO Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC). At the former Rensselaer production site in New York state, for example, BASF has been investing in sustainable land use for over 10 years. The 90-hectare site on the Hudson River includes a LEED Platinum-certified environmental education classroom, a combined heat and power plant and a 10-hectare widlife habitat. The wildlife habitat was created as part of the Hudson River legacy remediation and ecological restoration project, for which BASF received the Environmental Excellence Award for Environmental Dredging from Western Dredging Association in 2021. The biodiversity project improves site ecology, providing space for indigenous plants, foraging and nesting areas for a variety of animals, a way-station for migratory birds, and a habitat for aquatic species, amphibians and reptiles. For example, the aquatic turtle population in the freshwater wetland area could be restored.

We also take biodiversity conservation into account in our production. In addition, we are committed to complying with the provisions of international environmental agreements such as the Nagoya Protocol. The supplementary agreement to the U.N.’s Convention on Biological Diversity regulates access to genetic resources and benefit sharing. It sets out obligations (for example, compensation payments) for the users of genetic resources such as plant-based raw materials. We use internal control mechanisms to monitor compliance with these standards.

1 Wetland of international importance in accordance with the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention)

2 We have defined “adjacent” as the area within a 3 km radius.

Good to know

Biodiversity reserve in Brazil - a bird (photo)

Biodiversity reserve in Brazil

BASF has been involved in the conservation and regeneration of the forests of the Atlantic Rainforest for more than 30 years. An eight-month biodiversity survey in collaboration with the Brazilian Espaço ECO Foundation found a diversity of more than 200 animal and plant species in the 30-hectare Suvinil Reserve on the Brazilian paints and coatings industrial complex in São Bernardo do Campo (São Paulo state). This section of the Atlantic Rainforest, which accounts for almost half of the total area of the BASF site, shows how industry and the environment, productivity and sustainability can coexist. The Suvinil reserve is part of the Brazilian BASF Demarchi + Ecoefficient program, which achieves more efficient use of natural resources and improves products and processes.

Management of our product impact

BASF offers products and solutions for a wide range of industries. We want to ensure that our products meet our customers’ standards in quality and, through appropriate use, pose no risk to humans, animals or the environment. Our commitment to the objectives set forth by the Responsible Care® charter of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) obligates us to continuously minimize the negative effects of our products on the environment, health and safety and to optimize our products on an ongoing basis. It is important to consider the potential impacts of product use on biodiversity, for example, with regard to pollution.

For example, we evaluate our products and solutions in crop protection and seeds throughout the entire research, development and registration process. After they have been approved for the market, we continue assessing them regularly for potential risks and impact to the ecosystems in which they are used. We have initiated various projects and offer training to prevent misuse of our products (see Product Stewardship for Crop Protection Products and Seeds).

All types of land development, such as agriculture and forestry, play a role in changing biodiversity (driver of biodiversity loss: land-use change). Activities such as tillage, drainage, fertilization and the use of crop protection products can affect flora and fauna, for example, by influencing food sources. Minimizing these impacts while ensuring the necessary productivity is one of the biggest challenges farmers are facing.

Our Agricultural Solutions segment focuses on four areas to help farmers to find the right balance between productivity and sustainability. Focus areas are climate-smart farming, sustainable solutions, digital farming and smart stewardship. In this context, we work with farmers to create balanced agricultural systems which enable productive and efficient farming of high-quality food products and at the same time promote biodiversity in the field. For example, we advise them on soil cultivation practices and look for suitable ways to improve biodiversity in farmlands. Our many years of experience in sustainability measurement and evaluation in agriculture are particularly useful here. Our modern seed solutions also enable better yield on existing farmlands and thus help protect natural habitats.

Our AgBalance® method and the biodiversity calculator enable a scientifically sound assessment of the impact of agricultural practices on biodiversity. Based on these assessments, we issue recommendations for measures such as planting flower strips or establishing nesting places to benefit pollinators like wild bees and farmland birds.

In 2021, BASF initiated the approval process for a new, more environmentally friendly insecticidal active ingredient and has since submitted registration dossiers in all major markets. The active ingredient, Axalion™, enables farmers to control a wide range of piercing and sucking pests that are harmful to crops. At the same time, it is highly compatible with beneficial insects such as pollinators. This supports farmers in managing the challenges they face around productivity, protecting the environment and societal demands.

Animal farming is essential to meeting growing global demand for products of animal origin such as meat, eggs and milk. This in turn leads to high demand for agricultural land for growing feed, which has implications for the share of forest areas and biodiversity. BASF offers a range of feed additives such as enzymes, vitamins, glycinates and organic acids that improve nutrient utilization from feed. Better feed conversion and more sustainable livestock production mean that less land is needed, preserving natural ecosystems.

Responsibility to our supply chains

Some of the business activities of our raw materials suppliers involve land uses that can influence biodiversity (driver of biodiversity loss: land-use change). We have laid down our expectations of our suppliers with regard to environmental, labor and social standards in the supply chain as well as our committment to preserving biodiversity in the Supplier Code of Conduct.

BASF procures various renewable raw materials. As for fossil raw materials, we also consider how renewable resources impact aspects of sustainability along the value chain. Alongside positive effects like avoiding greenhouse gas emissions, these can also have negative effects on areas such as biodiversity or land use, depending on the raw material.

For palm and palm kernel oil in particular, there is an elevated risk of deforestation to create farmland. To improve sustainability in procurement, we established the BASF Palm Commitment in 2011, which was updated in 2015 and is implemented with our Palm Sourcing Policy. Third-party certification with standards such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standard enables us to take biodiversity criteria into account when purchasing raw materials.

Our position on forest protection sets out our commitment to preserving biodiversity in areas of High Conservation Value such as High Carbon Stock forest areas and peatlands in the procurement of renewable raw materials. BASF again participated in the “Forests” assessment conducted by the international organization CDP in 2022 and achieved a score of A–, once more giving it Leadership status. The assessment is conducted based on detailed insights into the palm value chain and activities that impact ecosystems and natural habitats.

We are also committed to the environmental sustainability of other supply chains through our own, targeted initiatives. One example is our rambutan program. This was launched in 2014 in close collaboration with partners in Vietnam to source botanical ingredients for cosmetic products from certified organic rambutan gardens. In cooperation with local farmers and NGOs, BASF’s program promotes the preservation of biodiverse habitats, as well as good agricultural practices, gender equity and fair working conditions.

Strategic partnerships to promote biodiversity

Engaging in ongoing dialog with a variety of stakeholders is important to BASF. That is why we seek out partnerships with relevant interest groups and organizations worldwide to raise awareness of bio­diversity and drive forward the action needed to preserve natural habitats. This enables us to firstly share the knowledge gained from our biodiversity activities and secondly learn from others to improve our own practices.

We cooperate with a number of organizations including the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the Sustainable Palm Oil Forum, the Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture and the High Carbon Stock Approach Steering Group. The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) is working to provide a framework for reporting on nature-related risks and related activities. In 2021, BASF joined the newly established TNFD Forum, a consultative network, to support this development. Our involvement in organizations such as the Alliance to End Plastic Waste and the Alliance for Water Stewardship help to preserve biodiversity in bodies of water.

Together with international partners and based on dialog with stakeholders in the food value chain, we are driving forward measures to promote sustainable agriculture. In the United States, for example, BASF is a member of the Honey Bee Health Coalition, which aims to achieve healthy honey bee populations and support healthy populations of native and managed pollinators in productive agricultural systems and thriving ecosystems. BASF France is part of the Entreprises pour l’Environnement (EpE) network, which launched the Act4nature campaign with the main objective of protecting and enhancing biodiversity.

Since 2013, we have also been working with different farmers and experts from the BASF FarmNetwork Sustainability, an association of farms in Europe, to integrate more connected biodiversity areas into agricultural production. By creating and maintaining new habitats and linking habitats for living, breeding and feeding with each other, biodiversity can be sustainably promoted in a modern, conventional agriculture. Based on the insights gained from working together, an advisory board of experts from agriculture, nature conservation and environmental protection developed a biodiversity checklist and published it in 2021. This summarizes 10 ecologically effective measures to promote biodiversity. Since 2021, BASF has supported farmers participating in its #wirzahlenBiodiversität (“We pay biodiversity”) program financially and with professional advice.

Eco-Efficiency Analysis
The Eco-Efficiency Analysis is a method developed by BASF for assessing the economic and environmental aspects of products and processes. The aim is to compare products with regard to profitability and environmental compatibility.
Responsible Care®
Registered trademark of the European Chemical Industry Council
SEEbalance® is the Socio-Eco-Efficiency analysis developed by BASF. It can be used to evaluate and compare the environmental impact, costs and social aspects of products and manufacturing processes. SEEbalance®; makes sustainable development measurable and manageable for companies by combining the three dimensions of sustainability – economy, environment and society – in an integrated product assessment tool.
Value chain
A value chain describes the successive steps in a production process: from raw materials through various intermediate steps, such as transportation and production, to the finished product.

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