Biodiversity net gain (BNG) increases an area’s biodiversity through development or land use changes. This means any harm to biodiversity caused by a development project must be offset by measures that create or enhance biodiversity elsewhere. Consultations regarding BNG involve stakeholders such as developers, land managers, environmental experts, and government officials. In many countries, including the UK, net biodiversity gain has been incorporated into planning policies and regulations. In the UK, the government is currently consulting on proposals to require all new development projects to achieve a minimum of 10% biodiversity net gain.
The consultation seeks views on how the policy should be implemented, including how biodiversity should be measured, how the net gain target should be set and enforced, and how the procedure can be effectively integrated into existing planning processes.
When implemented effectively, biodiversity net gain consultation can have several benefits, including:
- Promoting the conservation and restoration of habitats and species
- Providing ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, flood mitigation, and air and water purification
- Enhancing the quality of life of local communities
- Contributing to the achievement of national and international conservation targets
Several factors can affect the success of BNG consultations, including:
The type of development or land use change: The kind of development or land use change can significantly affect the potential for BNG. For instance, a story that involves destroying an entire ecosystem, such as a forest or wetland, will require more extensive efforts to achieve net gain than development on previously developed land.
Location and surrounding habitat
The development location or land use change can also affect the potential for BNG. Products located in areas with high biodiversity and near intact habitats will have more opportunities for BNG than in the regions already heavily developed.
Expertise and resources
Consultations regarding BNG require input from experts, including ecologists, landscape architects, and conservationists. The availability of these experts and financial resources can affect the success of BNG consultations. When consultants are asked to provide extensive reports or data analysis, this may deter some groups because of time and financial constraints.
BNG may require development or land use changes in some jurisdictions. These requirements ensure that BNG is considered during the planning and development process. However, BNG is not considered during planning and development in other jurisdictions. This can result in a patchwork of ecological features throughout the landscape without any overarching conservation plan.
The engagement of stakeholders, including developers, land managers, environmental experts, and community members, is critical for the success of BNG consultations. Stakeholders must be willing to work together and be open to innovative solutions to achieve BNG.
Monitoring and evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation of the success of BNG are critical to ensure that the desired outcomes are achieved. This requires ongoing data collection and analysis and adjustments to the BNG strategy. The Bracken Bat Roosting Network is a great example of a BNG project that has been successful. The Bracken Bat Roosting Network (BBN) is one of the only roosts in Queensland available to both grey-headed and black-flying foxes, two species listed as vulnerable under the EPBC Act.
Overall, the success of BNG consultations depends on various factors, including the type of development, location, expertise and resources, regulatory requirements, stakeholder engagement, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation. Effective planning and coordination among all stakeholders can ensure that BNG is achieved and maintained over time.