The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) defines Biodiversity Net Gain as:

“an approach to development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before.”

To achieve net gain, a project must incorporate a measurable increase in natural habitat over and above what is lost.

Once the new Environment Bill becomes law, developments will need to achieve a minimum of 10% net gain. However, some councils and infrastructure organisations are already requiring this.

In many cases, all habitats created or enhanced will need to be maintained at that level for at least 30 years.

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Addressing biodiversity loss

Biodiversity is declining in the UK. The National Biodiversity Network’s State of Nature 2019 report outlines a 13% decrease in the abundance of species between 1970 and 2016.

Developments should always try and follow this mitigation hierarchy:

  1. Avoidance – avoid any impact if possible. Examples include finding an alternative site, retaining habitat features, or changing work timings. This is the most preferred option.
  2. Mitigation – take action to minimise any impacts of the works.
  3. Offset – compensate for impacts. This should be a last resort.

Measuring biodiversity

Biodiversity itself is difficult to measure. Established metrics enable us to calculate the impact of a development. We have worked with all the available biodiversity-offsetting metrics, including the current Defra metric – Natural England Beta 2.0, that is now the industry standard.

Planning for Biodiversity Net Gain

By involving us early in the project design, we can help you find ways to achieve the best outcomes for flora and fauna. Our landscape architects work to incorporate biodiversity wherever possible in initial design plans.

Our CIEEM accredited ecologists will visit the site to carry out a baseline survey and a habitat-condition assessment. These will be used for your Biodiversity Net Gain report. These can be done alongside a preliminary ecological appraisal for the proposed development.

Our geographic information system (GIS) team will then create accurate habitat measurements. We use the landscape design plans to measure what the development will achieve once built.

Finally, pre-development and post-development measurements are fed into the biodiversity metric. This will allow us to find out the total percentage of Biodiversity Net Gain.

If it’s not possible to achieve Biodiversity Net Gain on-site

If it is not possible to deliver habitat enhancements on site, it is likely biodiversity gains will need to be found elsewhere.

We can assist with finding a suitable off-site location if net gain is not possible.

Implementation and long term maintenance

The RSK Habitat Management team can help you with the implementation and long-term management to ensure successful on-site habitat creation and management.