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Biodiversity Net Gain:
the next big thing for UK nature
conservation?
Claire Wansbury FCIEEM CEnv CEcol CMLI
Associate Director of Ecology
4th June 2019
Concepts and definitions – biodiversity
22
The variety of life on earth –
ecosystems, habitats, species and
genetic diversity within species.
A scientific term, also used to refer
to nature or nature conservation,
including wildlife’s value to people.
Photo credit London Wildlife Trust
Concepts and definitions – biodiversity net gain
33
Biodiversity net gain:
“Development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before”
Can include using a metric-based means of ensuring that, for a
given site, there is an overall improvement based on increase in
habitat area and / or quality following a new development
To achieve net gain, a development must have a higher biodiversity
unit score after completion than the baseline score before
development
Natural England are currently updating the Defra Biodiversity Metric
Policy
developments
in England
4
Net gain policy advances and development
5
Mandatory biodiversity net gain
consultation (Dec 2018 – Feb
2019)
Announcement on mandatory
biodiversity net gain by the
Chancellor (March 2019)
Defra Biodiversity offsetting pilots
(2012)
Defra 25 year Environment Plan
launched January 2018
1992 Rio Convention on
Biological Diversity
2011 Government Natural
Environment White Paper
Plus NPPF – 2012, updated
biodiversity text 2018 (current
edition 2019)
Meanwhile in Local Planning Authorities and Industry…
6
Councils including Warwickshire and
Lichfield introduced biodiversity net gain
requirements
CIRIA, CIEEM and IEMA created and
launched:
• 2016: Biodiversity Net Gain – Good
Practice Principles.
• 2019: Biodiversity Net Gain – A
Practical Guide.
Biodiversity net gain
Metric calculations
7
If e = ecologist
? =
𝑘=0
𝑛
𝑛
𝑘
𝑥 𝑘
𝑒2𝜋𝑟
Metric: Pre-development
Each habitat given numerical ‘scores’ which are multiplied together with area
Distinctiveness x condition x area (ha) = pre-development units
Distinctiveness is based on various parameters - species richness, rarity etc.
High = 6 (e.g. lowland mixed deciduous woodland)
Medium = 4 (e.g. ponds)
Low = 2 (e.g. amenity grassland)
Baseline condition of each habitat is assessed using set criteria:
Good = 3
Moderate = 2
Poor = 1 Based on Defra 2012 draft metric
Defra 2.0 adds additional factors
Metric: – Post-development
Risk multipliers are introduced to account for:
 difficulty of habitat creation (delivery risk);
 distance of offset from development (spatial risk);
 time for created habitats to reach target condition (temporal risk).
Each risk multiplier is assigned a numerical ‘score’
Distinctiveness x condition x area (ha) x delivery risk x spatial risk x
temporal risk = post-development units
Based on Defra 2012 draft metric
But first…
Before the maths…
The Mitigation Hierarchy
10
(Photo from talk by Kerry ten Kate,
BBOP & Forest Trends)
Mitigation Hierarchy
 Mitigation hierarchy must be implemented first and
robustly
 1 Avoid
 2 Minimise
 3 Rehabilitate/restore development impacts to
biodiversity on-site
 Offsetting offsite only adopted after this process and
seeks to address any residual gap
Biodiversity net gain:
the next big thing?
12
Linocut inspired by the first black-winged stilt recorded
breeding at Medmerry © Lillian Tranborg
The next big thing?
Yes, but… challenges include:
 Attitudes: ‘want a licence to trash’, ‘need a level playing field’ and
‘don’t want to pay’
 Metric can only ever be a proxy
 Knowledge & resourcing: ecology and maths
 Knowledge & resourcing: Local Planning Authorities
 What if it doesn’t work?
 Everything else that needs funding
Solutions to those challenges
 Mandatory and consistent application of biodiversity
net gain
 Proper application of the Mitigation Hierarchy,
including protection of important sites and species
 Training for ecologists, designers etc (SocEnv)
 Funding and training for LPAs
 Funding for existing valuable areas From ’the Lawton Report’ Defra (2009) “Making Space for Nature: a review of
England’s wildlife sites and ecological network”
If you remember one thing:
Apply the Mitigation Hierarchy
Thank you – any questions?
Claire Wansbury
@ecologytweets
@atkinsglobal
15

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Biodiversity Net Gain: the next big thing for UK nature conservation?

  • 1. Biodiversity Net Gain: the next big thing for UK nature conservation? Claire Wansbury FCIEEM CEnv CEcol CMLI Associate Director of Ecology 4th June 2019
  • 2. Concepts and definitions – biodiversity 22 The variety of life on earth – ecosystems, habitats, species and genetic diversity within species. A scientific term, also used to refer to nature or nature conservation, including wildlife’s value to people. Photo credit London Wildlife Trust
  • 3. Concepts and definitions – biodiversity net gain 33 Biodiversity net gain: “Development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before” Can include using a metric-based means of ensuring that, for a given site, there is an overall improvement based on increase in habitat area and / or quality following a new development To achieve net gain, a development must have a higher biodiversity unit score after completion than the baseline score before development Natural England are currently updating the Defra Biodiversity Metric
  • 5. Net gain policy advances and development 5 Mandatory biodiversity net gain consultation (Dec 2018 – Feb 2019) Announcement on mandatory biodiversity net gain by the Chancellor (March 2019) Defra Biodiversity offsetting pilots (2012) Defra 25 year Environment Plan launched January 2018 1992 Rio Convention on Biological Diversity 2011 Government Natural Environment White Paper Plus NPPF – 2012, updated biodiversity text 2018 (current edition 2019)
  • 6. Meanwhile in Local Planning Authorities and Industry… 6 Councils including Warwickshire and Lichfield introduced biodiversity net gain requirements CIRIA, CIEEM and IEMA created and launched: • 2016: Biodiversity Net Gain – Good Practice Principles. • 2019: Biodiversity Net Gain – A Practical Guide.
  • 7. Biodiversity net gain Metric calculations 7 If e = ecologist ? = 𝑘=0 𝑛 𝑛 𝑘 𝑥 𝑘 𝑒2𝜋𝑟
  • 8. Metric: Pre-development Each habitat given numerical ‘scores’ which are multiplied together with area Distinctiveness x condition x area (ha) = pre-development units Distinctiveness is based on various parameters - species richness, rarity etc. High = 6 (e.g. lowland mixed deciduous woodland) Medium = 4 (e.g. ponds) Low = 2 (e.g. amenity grassland) Baseline condition of each habitat is assessed using set criteria: Good = 3 Moderate = 2 Poor = 1 Based on Defra 2012 draft metric Defra 2.0 adds additional factors
  • 9. Metric: – Post-development Risk multipliers are introduced to account for:  difficulty of habitat creation (delivery risk);  distance of offset from development (spatial risk);  time for created habitats to reach target condition (temporal risk). Each risk multiplier is assigned a numerical ‘score’ Distinctiveness x condition x area (ha) x delivery risk x spatial risk x temporal risk = post-development units Based on Defra 2012 draft metric
  • 10. But first… Before the maths… The Mitigation Hierarchy 10 (Photo from talk by Kerry ten Kate, BBOP & Forest Trends)
  • 11. Mitigation Hierarchy  Mitigation hierarchy must be implemented first and robustly  1 Avoid  2 Minimise  3 Rehabilitate/restore development impacts to biodiversity on-site  Offsetting offsite only adopted after this process and seeks to address any residual gap
  • 12. Biodiversity net gain: the next big thing? 12 Linocut inspired by the first black-winged stilt recorded breeding at Medmerry © Lillian Tranborg
  • 13. The next big thing? Yes, but… challenges include:  Attitudes: ‘want a licence to trash’, ‘need a level playing field’ and ‘don’t want to pay’  Metric can only ever be a proxy  Knowledge & resourcing: ecology and maths  Knowledge & resourcing: Local Planning Authorities  What if it doesn’t work?  Everything else that needs funding
  • 14. Solutions to those challenges  Mandatory and consistent application of biodiversity net gain  Proper application of the Mitigation Hierarchy, including protection of important sites and species  Training for ecologists, designers etc (SocEnv)  Funding and training for LPAs  Funding for existing valuable areas From ’the Lawton Report’ Defra (2009) “Making Space for Nature: a review of England’s wildlife sites and ecological network”
  • 15. If you remember one thing: Apply the Mitigation Hierarchy Thank you – any questions? Claire Wansbury @ecologytweets @atkinsglobal 15