Biodiversity ranking and management change
The results of the biodiversity assessment for every site – generated using the calculator – were aggregated in a database. This allowed the sites to be ranked and directly compared in terms of biodiversity value. Following site ranking, changes in management were recommended (such as a reduction in the cutting of vegetation) with a view to enhancing biodiversity – in most cases these recommendations also reduced management costs.
The biodiversity enhancement resulting from these management changes was then forecast for each site – this enabled a cost/benefit analysis to be carried out, highlighting where improvements could be made most efficiently. Such forecasting could also be used to assess the best places for biodiversity offsetting within landholdings.
Biodiversity Impact Calculator and net gain
A second calculator was developed to assess the impact of development on biodiversity, and to assess whether biodiversity net gain had been achieved. This included an assessment of on-site and off-site mitigation, as well as a monitoring tab to establish whether net gain had been achieved following construction work. The overall aim of the tool was to ensure that Northumbrian Water and Essex & Suffolk Water achieved net gain within all their projects and landholdings going forwards.
The bigger picture
By developing our knowledge and assessment of biodiversity baselines we can establish which changes in management practice result in optimum biodiversity enhancement. This complies with the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which calls on us to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems. Accurate, standardised biodiversity assessment with user-friendly calculators can inform the management of landholdings as well as large infrastructure schemes.