Species diversity is integral in maintaining our ecosystems.
All plants, animals, insects and microbes contribute to our planet’s biodiversity with each individual species playing its own unique part.
Without biodiversity, we would not have clean air, water or soil. Our food sources, raw materials and even our climate are affected by changes in species diversity.
Development and the increased modernisation of our lives have caused an alarming decrease in biodiversity worldwide;
- The pressures of urban expansion place an ever-increasing demand on fragile natural resources and available habitat
- Globalisation has led to the spread of invasive species which can rapidly outcompete native wildlife
- Pesticides from agriculture can be linked to a decline in 40% of all insect species
Halting biodiversity loss is a huge challenge, particularly in the light of climate change, which will accelerate much of the decline.
There are numerous pieces of legislation and many site designations in place at local, national, EU and UN levels to help conserve and enhance biodiversity. While ensuring compliance is a great place to start, good sustainable development should take a ‘beyond compliance’ approach that contributes to and promotes biodiversity.
The previous Coalition Government’s industrial strategy Construction 2025 barely mentioned biodiversity. However recently DEFRA completed a consultation on a “Net Gain” policy for the environment, development and local communities, presenting an opportunity for developers to proceed whilst at the same time improving our environment by more than compensating for biodiversity loss where it cannot be avoided or mitigated. BREEAM, CEEQUAL, LEED, the Considerate Constructors Scheme and the Home Quality Mark help the industry to measure and report on biodiversity impacts as part of wider environmental assessments. Critically, organisations responsible for maintaining the existing built environment can enhance wellbeing for users and the community by encouraging biodiversity through green roofs, landscape enhancements and other additions.
In this quick animated film, review what biodiversity is, why we need to be aware of it in the construction sector, and key species to be aware of if we find them on site.
Enhancing biodiversity on site
Biodiversity enhancement isn’t limited to new developments. Bear in mind most of our built environment is here already! Refurbishment and maintenance scheduling for the existing built environment can significantly influence biodiversity. Through the incorporation of ecological features and management regimes, spaces can be improved to provide habitat for wildlife whilst improving the user experience.
Initiatives can include;
- Green roofs
- Living walls
- Bird/bat boxes
- Plant low-maintenance native species on site
- Ponds and water features
- Plant butterfly/bee-friendly species on site
- “Bug hotels” and beehives