Biodiversity

Defra is currently analysing the consultation responses received on the Defra green paper entitled Biodiversity Offsetting in England.  The paper was published in September 2013 and the consultation period ended on 7 November 2013. It is understood that there is general support across all the main political parties to implement a biodiversity offsetting system in some form. Biodiversity offsetting is already being ‘used’ in different ways in development projects, not least within the Defra Trial areas. As such professional ecologists and other professional disciplines, in particular planners and developers, need to be up to speed with the principles, the application of the system as it currently is being implemented, and how it might evolve.
BSG Ecology is delighted to announce that our collaborative work with LDA Design (as lead consultant) on the Network Rail National Lineside Vegetation Management Strategy has won the Strategic Landscape Planning section of the Landscape Institute Awards 2013.
The development of a biodiversity offsetting scheme has been in the pipeline for some time, and a pilot scheme devised by Defra has recently come to an end. In essence, the Defra ‘metrics’ approach enables biodiversity credits to be calculated for habitats that will be unavoidably lost, and an equivalent value of credits provided through habitat restoration or creation to compensate for this loss.
Following recent ecosystem services review work undertaken by BSG Ecology, Steven Betts, a partner in our Newcastle office, recently attended the IEEM spring conference where the topic was under discussion. Although this technical discipline is not currently in the mainstream, it is evident that things are likely to change.  In this short viewpoint article Steven considers what ecosystem services involve, and the potential for its application in the future.
Between 2008 and 2012 BSG Ecology was retained as the ecological advisor to the design team of LDA Design-Hargreaves who prepared the designs for the Parkland and Public Realm areas of the Olympic Park in East London. In this interview , which is one of a series of 10 interviews, Peter describes the role BSG Ecology had in the development of the Park designs and the integration of the Olympic Park Biodiversity Action Plan objectives.

Update June 2020 - the draft British Standard BS 8683 Process for designing and implementing Biodiversity Net Gain – Specification, setting out the requirements for the biodiversity net gain assessment process for all developments across the UK has been released - a full article on the key questions the draft standard raises can be found here:  Setting A Standard For Biodiversity Net Gain For Development

  The emerging draft of BS42020 Biodiversity - Code of Practice for Planning and Development provides opportunities for improved consistency and objectivity across all professional ecologists involved in delivering advice on ecology matters in advance of and during the planning application process. The BS will apply to those working in the public, private and voluntary sectors.
BSG Ecology regularly provides ecological input to BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Home (CfSH) assessments.  It is our experience that the ecological (biodiversity) aspects of BREEAM and CfSH are an area where clients are often unaware of what is required.  In the viewpoint below, BSG Partner Steve Betts identifies some of the common issues that are encountered, and provides clients with advice and guidance to help them plan their way through the process and secure the credits they aspire to.
An often forgotten part of delivering the aims of a conservation project or a conservation site is telling the wider-world about what’s going on.  Getting the interpretation right is essential in the promotion of an organisation’s commitment to biodiversity, and can help to raise that organisation’s environmental profile.
Previously green roof designers have had to rely heavily on European or North American technical guidance when devising the structure and specification of green roofs. Although a wealth of information is available from outside the UK, none relates directly to recognised British Standards. The recently published Green Roof Code is a UK-specific document which fills this gap and provides a best practice guide. It will provide a useful reference document for all those involved in the design and installation of green roofs.