Conducting a Biodiversity Assessment Study in Tea Estates in Assam for Rainforest Alliance
· Department: Regions, Asia Pacific
· Location(s): Assam, India (Upper Assam, North Bank and Golaghat region)
· Desired start date and duration: 15 November 2022 for 13 months
· Under direction of: Manager, Sustainable Agriculture South Asia
About the Rainforest Alliance
Rainforest Alliance, a New York-based 501(c)3, and UTZ, an Amsterdam-based foundation, merged in 2018. Together, the new Rainforest Alliance is now a $70 million per year organization with offices in 17 countries (and growing) and over 5000 staff. The merged organization has two main offices—one in Amsterdam and one in New York City.
The Rainforest Alliance is creating a more sustainable world by using social and market forces to protect nature and improve the lives of farmers and forest communities.
We work towards making responsible business the new normal through our certification program, tailored supply chain services, landscape and community work and advocacy.
In India, the Rainforest Alliance started its mission in 2007 with its certification program in tea plantations in North Bengal and Assam in the North-east, and in the tea-planting districts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the South. We, currently, have 305 certified producers spread over 238,000 hectares in India distributed across tea, coffee, spice and fruit plantations that strive to use responsible production practices. We have collaborated with more than 150 Certificate Holders (CHs) in Assam to produce tea in a more sustainable way. Majority of our members are large estates with our limited engagement in the small tea grower (STG) segment. Our India operation is managed through our subsidiary, UTZ India Private Limited.
The Rainforest Alliance is a global organization working in the field of sustainability at the intersection of business, agriculture, and forests to make responsible business the new normal. We are building an alliance to protect forests, improve the livelihoods of farmers and forest communities, promote their human rights, and help them mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis. While farming often has negative impacts on biodiversity, it also has the potential to create positive impacts by incorporating natural habitat into production systems, conserving soil life, and more. This makes farms better able to cope with the effects of climate change, helping secure better livelihoods for farmers. For these reasons, biodiversity conservation is among the main objectives of our 2020 Certification Program.
Our approach aims to make biodiversity a fundamental principle of all aspects of farming and environmental protection. This is why, the biodiversity conservation is woven throughout the new Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard. Several criteria in the management, farming, and environmental chapters aim at both preventing negative impacts from farming on biodiversity as well as fostering positive ones.
Under our new standard, we aim to maximize the positive impact and minimize the negative impact of production on biodiversity by promoting maintaining and increasing the diversity of native vegetation through practices like agroforestry and establishing wildlife corridors; taking steps to diversify the type of crops and vegetation grown on the farm and support functional biodiversity (i.e. pollinators and natural predators of pests) through an Integrated Pest Management strategy; supporting the protection of endangered species and other native flora and fauna by prohibiting hunting, minimizing the spread of invasive species, and taking steps to minimize human-wildlife conflict; and minimizing negative impacts from farming by improving soil health through mechanisms like erosion control and increasing soil organic matter
The Rainforest Alliance has been present in Assam for more than a decade, largely through our engagement with the certificate holders under tea and coffee. Understanding the position of Assam as one of the global biodiversity hotspots, and hence a key biodiversity area, Rainforest Alliance intends to conduct a thorough biodiversity assessment to evaluate the biodiversity richness supported by tea landscapes. Additionally, the assessment also intends to a comparative study to evaluate any difference in the biodiversity of species existing on Rainforest Alliance -certified and non-certified estates to see if the certification program has been able to promote biodiversity conservation in the tea gardens.
The study aims to cover the following objectives:
1. To establish and document the biodiversity richness supported by the tea sector.
2. To conduct a comparative assessment of the richness of biodiversity supported by Rainforest Alliance - certified estates with those of non-certified estates to establish linkage, if any, of the successful biodiversity conservation with the uptake of Rainforest Alliance certification standard.
Contractor Services at a minimum, must include:
1. The firm should have a minimum of 5 years of experience working in the field
2. The firm should have prior experience in conducting similar work (at least 3)
3. The firm should have a competent team available to undertake the study.
Deliverables and Scope of Services
The study will be conducted in 10 tea estates across Assam (preferably three different tea-growing zones, i.e. upper Assam, North Bank and Golaghat region), covering 5 tea estates that have never been certified and 5 estates that have been certified with Rainforest Alliance for minimum 5 years.
The biodiversity assessment study will be conducted over a period of 13 months covering all four seasons in a year.
Scope of Activities
Following activities would be undertaken as part of the study:
1. Study design
An appropriate methodology will be selected, in discussion with the Rainforest Alliance team to comprehensively cover the study objectives. Quantitative and qualitative assessment methods substantiated with literature review will be thoroughly designed and discussed, before finalization and uptake of the study.
2. Data collection
Based on the prior experience of biodiversity experts, the team should propose the data collection points as part of their proposal, which should cover comprehensive data points, covering minimum following requirements:
o The assessment of floral diversity in the study area would entail collecting data on environmental variables (altitude, temperature, rainfall, moisture, slope, and aspect) and habitat information (canopy cover, canopy height, litter cover, litter depth, invasive species including hard and soft weeds, soil temp, soil pH, moisture, disturbance, human use, etc.)
o The consultant will take up a suitable methodology to identify the faunal diversity in the study area. Faunal diversity covering the range of faunal species, including birds, mammals, reptiles, insects/natural predators, nocturnal species, amphibians etc.
The study should cover the entire
o Soil Testing to assess presence of organic carbon, heavy metals, chemical residue, water holding capacity, bulk density, pH level, pollution load index, ecological hazard index etc. and others. Contamination levels for other toxins would be tested, too.
o Water Testing for parameters like Total Dissolve Solid (TDS), Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), Fecal Coliform etc. along with other standard parameters to test water quality. External contamination level would be ascertained, too.
3. Interview/FGD of the stakeholders
Structured interview/FGD (as found suitable) of the plantation community, including workers of the certified and non-certified estates would be conducted to understand their perception of changes in biodiversity in their surrounding areas over time.
4. Data Analysis
An appropriate analytical framework would be proposed, discussed and mutually agreed with the Rainforest Alliance team to comprehensively analyze the data collected during the study.
5. Report Submission
· The report for every season during the project duration would be submitted to Rainforest Alliance within one 2 weeks of the completion of the season.
· A final report will be submitted to Rainforest Alliance at the end of the study.
The data collected during the study will be kept confidential and the Rainforest Alliance will be the sole owner of the data and reports submitted, which should not be published or used in any other form without prior approval from the Rainforest Alliance.
Schedule of payments
The payment milestone is as follows:
Milestone Timeline Payment
Inception Report 15 days of signing the contract 25%
1 Seasonal Report 3 months 15%
2 Seasonal Report 6 months 15%
3 Seasonal Report 9 months 15%
4 Seasonal Report 12 months 15%
Final Report 30 Days after submission of 4 Report 15%
General terms and conditions for Request for proposal
· Proposals and/or any additional information received after the submission time and date are subject to rejection by The Rainforest Alliance. Incomplete proposals may be rejected by RA at its discretion.
· The Rainforest Alliance reserves the right to request additional information at any time during the procurement process.
· RA is at liberty to make multiple or no selections as part of the proposal process. RA also reserves the right to cancel the procurement.
· All proposal costs shall be borne by the applicant and will not be reimbursed by RA.
The consultants will be reviewed and selected on the basis of following criteria:
Selection Criteria Weightage
Previous experience 30%
Methodology Designed 40%
Financial Proposal 15%
Proposal Process and Format
The deadline for submission of the proposal is 30th October 2022. All applicants should send their applications to this link: https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/rfp/?hh_jid=108404. For any questions or clarification on ToR, please send an email to Sayan Ghosh at email@example.com.
The proposals should include:
o Organization profile
o Project team with CVs
o Technical proposal/methodology/ workplan/timeline for deliverables
o Financial proposal:
- cost-reimbursable: daily/hourly rate and estimated number of days/hours needed to complete project
- fixed price: total budget needed to complete deliverables.
- All costs should be considered in Indian National Rupees (INR).
o List of previous engagements that address the above experience desired.
Thank you for your interest in working with The Rainforest Alliance