The launch of the Plan Vivo Biodiversity Standard (PV Nature) represents a key moment for the development of nature markets. The development of PV Nature projects offers a real opportunity to channel ethical and readily available finance to projects focused on protecting and restoring biodiversity, whilst also providing alternative livelihood opportunities for local people and communities.

Below we answer the frequently asked questions associated with PV Nature. Should you have any further questions or queries surrounding this pioneering Standard, please email [email protected].

What is PV Nature? 

Plan Vivo’s mission is to enable Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities to have transparent and equitable access to ethical and responsible finance, to deliver impact for nature, climate and communities.

PV Nature is aimed at generating high integrity biodiversity certificates that deliver robust and credible benefits for nature whilst also ensuring both social and climate benefits. PV Nature is fully aligned with the high-integrity principles developed by Plan Vivo and Fauna and Flora - ensuring holistic impact (for nature, climate and communities) a participatory approach, and transparent, equitable benefit-sharing for communities. Projects certified under PV Nature will generate Plan Vivo Biodiversity Certificates (PVBCs) using the PV Nature Methodology in partnership with Pivotal. 

PV Nature is not aimed at generating certificates / credits for offsets instead, in line with the Global Biodiversity Framework, it is aimed at organisations wanting to make a contribution towards nature-positive*.  

How is PV Nature different from PV Climate?

PV Nature enables projects to generate Plan Vivo Biodiversity Certificates (PVBCs) with evidenced-based, measured outcomes for biodiversity. PV Nature is not intended to generate certificates to be used to offset negative biodiversity impact but rather at delivering a contribution towards nature-positive.  

PV Climate is the Plan Vivo Carbon Standard that enables projects to generate Plan Vivo Certificates (PVCs) which represent real, additional and verifiable emission reductions, whereby 1 PVC equates to 1 tonne of CO2 sequestered or mitigated. PVCs also represent a vast array of other co-benefits, such as poverty alleviation, gender equality, climate adaptation, biodiversity protection, water provision. PVCs can be purchased from projects by organisations wishing to offset their unavoidable emissions, through the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM). 

Projects certified under either Standard are required to ensure benefits to small-holders, local communities and Indigenous peoples by upholding the Plan Vivo values and requirements of a participatory approach, with clear benefit-sharing mechanisms and inclusive stakeholder engagement. 

Who is Pivotal?

Pivotal is a biodiversity data and analytics company. Pivotal co-developed the PV Nature Methodology with Plan Vivo. 

Pivotal is not a project developer. This is important because it means that Pivotal is not selling the certificates that result from its data analysis. High integrity can only be maintained if analysis of the outcomes achieved (and therefore how many certificates can be sold) is kept independent from the organisations that make more money the more certificates are sold. 

Pivotal is also not an auditor. Pivotal’s data and analytics platform makes audit of biodiversity data possible – i.e., makes it possible for independent third party verification of the outcomes that underpin PVBCs, right down to the digital records of the biodiversity itself. Third party validation and verification bodies or independent experts, not Pivotal, will conduct this process. 

What are the respective roles of Plan Vivo and Pivotal in the partnership for PV Nature?

Plan Vivo is a long-standing independent certification Standard. The Plan Vivo Secretariat maintains and administers PV Nature and certifies projects that meet all requirements of the Standard. 

Pivotal provides a data and analytics platform that enables projects to issue high quality Plan Vivo Biodiversity Certificates (PVBCs). The number of PVBCs a project can generate is calculated via the Pivotal platform and is based on analysing project biodiversity monitoring data to calculate units of change according to a defined sampling plan. This will then be reported to Plan Vivo to confirm the quantity of PVBCs that can be issued provided all other Standard requirements have been met. 

The methodology for calculation of certificates is open source. 

Plan Vivo and Pivotal will jointly provide support to projects to assist with (for example) selection of data collection tools. 

What is the PV Nature Methodology?

The PV Nature Methodology is the biodiversity quantification methodology for PV Nature, by which Plan Vivo Biodiversity Certificates (PVBCs) are quantified and quality checked. It sets minimum standards on (for example) biodiversity data quality and sampling protocols, and it defines the metrics via which biodiversity data is converted into numbers of certificates. 

The PV Nature Methodology is founded on the principle that certificates will only be issued where there is high quality, auditable data that provides evidence of achieved biodiversity outcomes. In other words, PVBCs are issued only where there is evidence that species and habitats have benefited. 

Under the PV Nature Methodology projects must collect and report data on a number of broad species groups, across a range of trophic levels (for example on birds, plants, amphibians, bats, and so on). It is not, for example, possible to issue certificates based on numbers of one iconic species or on simple measures like area of habitat, because these types of very simple indicators do not reliably represent ecosystem health. Biodiversity credits issued solely on the basis of narrow indicators like habitat area or a few indicator species run a serious risk of obfuscating poor outcomes, and the PV Nature Methodology therefore asks projects to measure much more than this to assure high quality and integrity. 

Why does PV Nature require digital data collection?

A high-integrity biodiversity credits market depends on transparency and auditability. It must be possible to prove what a credit claims to represent. Traditionally, biodiversity data has been collected by biologists and ecologists in the field manually recording what they see and/or hear. Data collected in this way is still valuable in terms of describing the biodiversity at a certain project site, but is difficult to use on the certification process as it cannot be easily verified by independent third parties. Further it introduces observational biases and variation between projects.  

Quality depends on that ability to verify what is true. And that depends on data that can be checked or quality controlled by a third party and that is underpinned by evidence of where, when, and how it was collected. This requires digital data collection that has a time and date stamp as well as a geolocation.

Is digital data collection more expensive or difficult?

Traditionally, high quality biodiversity surveys require entire teams of experts to be present on site, sometimes for long periods of time. This can become hugely expensive for the project. In comparison, digital data collection allows any field technicians to deploy sensors which can record much more data for a fraction of the time and cost.

Deploying technology is very simple and requires a small amount of training. This makes the costs and complexity much lower but importantly democratises access to biodiversity credits markets - meaning that those who can’t afford a team of ecologists can still collect the data required to issue high quality credits. Where possible, we encourage projects to consider how local communities and experts can support project data collection (for example through providing training and employment opportunities).

Digital data collection can be combined with other project biodiversity monitoring and surveys, as required in addition to monitoring under the PV Nature Methodology. This will not contribute to the quantification of Plan Vivo Biodiversity Certificates (PVBCs), however, will contribute to the overall narrative of the project and the value/ price of the PVBCs. 

Does PV Nature issue ex-ante certificates?

No. All Plan Vivo Biodiversity Certificates are ex-post - in other words - certificates are only issued on the basis of biodiversity outcomes that have already been achieved, measured and evidenced.

How will the certification process work?

Projects meeting the requirements of Plan Vivo Biodiversity Standard (PV Nature) must be officially registered to generate Plan Vivo Biodiversity Certificates (PVBCs). The first step towards registration is to submit a Project Idea Note (PIN) as part of a screening process where projects are assessed against basic eligibility criteria. If a PIN is approved, a project is listed in the project pipeline and can then submit a Project Design Document (PDD) for assessment. Following this, a project may be validated by a Validation and Verification Body (VVB) or Independent Expert (IE). Upon successful validation, the project will complete registration and become Certified. All Certified projects must submit Annual Reports with details of their monitoring results and any requests for issuance of PVBCs. Projects must then undergo Verification at least every 5 years throughout their Project Period.

How many Plan Vivo Biodiversity Certificates (PVBCs) can a project generate?

PVBCs are issued based on evidence-based outcomes i.e. what actually happens on the ground, rather than predictions or forecasts. For restoration projects, this may mean that it is not possible to know ahead of time how many certificates a project will generate. Ecosystems that are in warm, wet climates might support very rapid changes. Those that are water deprived, colder, or at altitude, for example, might show slower changes. For conservation projects, a maximum of 20 PVBCs can be issued per hectare per year, if 100% of the biodiversity baseline is maintained. The number of certificates that can be issued (per hectare per year) decreases from 20 to 18 if the baseline decreases from 100% to 90%. If the baseline drops below 90% of the baseline value, no certificates can be issued.  

All PVBCs are issued based on a trend confirmation analysis that accounts for the uncertainty in the measurements (see PV Nature Methodology for more information).

More importantly than trying to work out how many PVBCs a project can generate in advance, is ensuring that local land stewards are properly incentivised to create the best possible outcome for nature and biodiversity in the context of the landscape

How are Plan Vivo Biodiversity Certificates (PVBCs) priced?

Plan Vivo and Pivotal do not sell or set pricing for certificates / credits. However, Plan Vivo is working on some pricing guidance and will advise all projects to set the minimum price of PVBCs to reflect the minimum cost of doing the work, gaining certification with the associated requirements, as well as rewarding the custodians of nature to continue incentivising sustainable land management and nature recovery. Project costs will vary depending upon the cost of management interventions and technical expertise required. Above these, pricing is expected to be driven by a number of key factors including: biodiversity significance (e.g. threatened species or ecosystems), presence of charismatic species, social impact, cultural importance and, ultimately market demand and willingness to pay for high quality, high integrity biodiversity credits.  

Can Plan Vivo Biodiversity Certificates (PVBCs) be ‘stacked’ with carbon credits?

Projects are able to stack PVBCs with carbon credits in instances where all PV Nature requirements for stacking, including additionality, are met (see PV Nature Project Requirements sect. Additionality and sect. Stacking).

Who are the likely buyers of Plan Vivo Biodiversity Certificates (PVBCs)? 

The private sector is anticipated to play a critical role in meeting the global biodiversity conservation financing gap (estimated at $711 billion per year by the World Economic Forum in 2020). Market data points to increasing private sector investment in natural capital investment, including from philanthropic foundations, impact investors, large asset owners and corporations. There is increasing recognition by the private sector of their dependence on nature and biodiversity, and increased scrutiny by consumers and regulators on the environmental and social impacts of doing business. Emerging biodiversity markets offer an opportunity for corporates to voluntarily mitigate supply chain risks and strengthen their brand reputation, as well as comply with regulations for strengthened ESG reporting and reporting against emerging frameworks such as Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) and the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosure (TNFD). 

*Plan Vivo defines 'Nature Positive' as:A movement aimed at making a positive (and measurable) contribution to reversing biodiversity loss and increasing the resilience of our planet and communities, by positively incentivising people (in particular Indigenous Peoples and local communities) to conserve and restore important and threatened species and ecosystems. 


 Any questions? Please contact: [email protected]


About PV Nature