How to achieve Biodiversity Net Gain
The fundamental aim of Biodiversity Net Gain BNG is to protect and enhance biodiversity (the variety of life on Earth), not only for its intrinsic value, but also for its enormous value to the economy and our wellbeing. An excellent starting point is to apply the 10 Good Practice Principles found the CIEEM, IEMA and CIRIA practical guide…
- Apply the mitigation hierarchy – Do everything you can to first avoid and then minimise impacts on biodiversity. Only compensate for losses that cannot be avoided as a last resort, and aim to do this in a way that delivers the most benefit for nature conservation (in some cases better gains will be achieved off-site).
- Avoid losing biodiversity that cannot be offset elsewhere – Avoid impacts on irreplaceable biodiversity, as these cannot be offset to achieve either no net loss or net gain.
- Be inclusive and equitable – Engage stakeholders (particularly ecologists) early, and involve them in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the approach to net gain.
- Address risk – Habitat risk is addressed in the Defra Biodiversity Metric in terms of time (i.e. when new habitats are created; and when they will achieve desired condition) and difficulty (i.e. how hard they are to create), however it is important to be aware of other risks, for example the availability of local off-site land for habitat creation, or the availability of suitable biodiversity credits for purchase.
- Make a measurable net gain contribution – After applying the mitigation hierarchy, make sure you achieve a quantifiable net gain that contributes directly towards nature conservation priorities.
- Achieve the best outcomes for biodiversity – This starts with obtaining as accurate a baseline as possible(see principle 3 above), to make sure you know exactly what habitats you have on site. This will inform what the best outcome for biodiversity will look like. In some cases this will mean replacing what is lost, like for like. In others there may be an opportunity to create different habitats that deliver greater benefits for nature conservation, or that contribute to conservation priorities at local, regional and national levels. In some cases, delivery of BNG might result in improved connectivity, with on-site habitats providing an important corridor between adjacent habitats off site, to allow better movement of wildlife in the landscape.
- Be additional – Achieve nature conservation outcomes that demonstrably exceed existing obligations.
- Create a net gain legacy – This will be achieved through implementation of the requisite 30-year management plan.
- Optimise sustainability – Prioritise BNG and, where possible, optimise the wider social and environmental benefits.
- Be transparent – Communicate all net gain activities in a transparent and timely manner, sharing the learning with all stakeholders.
If you need expert help in any aspect of biodiversity – and biodiversty net gain in particular – contact our team today.