This biodiversity information has been designed to provide construction industry professionals with a first-port-of-call for information on biodiversity relevant to the built environment.

The biodiversity content on this site was developed as a key output from the UK-GBC’s Biodiversity Task Group which launched its final report with recommendations in March 2009. The group reviewed all the information available to the industry on biodiversity and the built environment and found that there was a lack of immediately accessible and appropriate information for construction industry professionals. UK-GBC has therefore collated a wide range of content in order to help provide the industry with some clear information on making the most effective provision for biodiversity both in new and existing properties and infrastructure.

The aim is not provide a large body of new information, but direct users to the most relevant information in this area. UK-GBC would like to thank the Environment Agency, Defra and BIS for their support in developing this information.

Although this information was developed in 2009 much of the content is still relevant and useful to the stakeholder listed. It is for this reason that we have not removed the guidance, but when reviewing the information, stakeholders should keep in mind the latest policy developments and best practice guidelines. The task group has produced information around guidance,measurement and reporting (please see further down the page) and policy as well as habitats and species.

Biodiversity Guidance

The guidance aims to:

  • Raise awareness of biodiversity amongst industry professionals
  • Ensure biodiversity is incorporated in both new build projects, infrastructure projects and in managing existing buildings.
  • Encourage UK-GBC members and non-members to practice high standards in their consideration of biodiversity, via the training of staff, use of ecologists, and establishment of biodiversity monitoring and reporting.
  • Enable UK-GBC member and non-member organisations to demonstrate their commitment to biodiversity in the built environment.

The guidance is intended to complement and not duplicate other schemes. It therefore focuses much more on raising awareness amongst the industry of existing tools, schemes and processes.

Download the sector specific guidance for developers, landlords/clients, contractors and consultants.  

Biodiversity measurement & reporting

This section gives more information about assessment tools, key performance indicators and benchmarking/award schemes available to companies that want to follow the UK-GBC guidance and prove their commitment to wildlife. The construction industry can measure its impact on biodiversity in terms of both the quantity and quality of habitats and species affected by development and ongoing management of properties.

Environmental Assessment Tools and Measuring Biodiversity

The key mechanisms that currently exist to help the industry measure and report on biodiversity are building environmental assessment tools such as Code for Sustainable Homes, BREEAM, CEEQUAL, LEED and Biodiversity Action Plans.

Sustainability assessment tools contain sections that relate to biodiversity and award credits for mitigation, preservation and management actions taken. The Biodiversity Task Group reviewed the advantages and disadvantages of the principal assessment tools and recommended that the way in which rating tool providers award credits should be amended to make the assessment of biodiversity more meaningful.

Task Group Recommendations 

The UK-GBC Biodiversity Task Group identified that the industry needs a common method for assessing the net change in biodiversity that arises from construction activities and the management of existing property assets.  The group made several recommendations requiring action by the industry, local authorities and central government to improve this situation and help the industry to collate more consistent information about their impact on wildlife.

Biodiversity Policy

UK Government Strategy on Biodiversity

Different wildlife and planning legislation and policy affects the construction industry across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  The Task Group have identified UK Government policy on biodiversity.

UK strategy

Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services outlines the Government’s strategy for embedding biodiversity considerations in all main sectors of public policy in England and sets out a programme for the future to make the changes necessary to conserve, enhance and work with the grain of nature and ecosystems rather than against them. The strategy will be regularly reviewed – visit the Defra website for further information about the strategy and associated policies.

In England, the Government have released a consultation for introducing biodiversity offsetting, with the aim to achieve an overall net gain for biodiversity by locating the right offsets in the right place to improve ecological networks across England. This work is being supported by the Natural Capital Committee, which is a group that has been set up by Government to advise on using Government natural capital in a sustainable way. The Valuing Nature Network is working with its members to aid the process of developing meaningful methods of valuation of biodiversity both in monetary and non-monetary terms.

There is still a broader debate taking place in this area around the merits and faults of placing monetary value on biodiversity and habitats, in particular the dangers of making nature inherently replaceable.

The Wildlife trust have developed the Biodiversity Benchmark, which is a standard for assessing and certifying an organisation’s systems for achieving continual biodiversity protection and enhancement on its landholdings and their implementation. And there is also an Industry initiative called the BIG Challenge which aims to show how biodiversity enhancements can be simple, affordable and achievable. It encourages projects to ‘do one thing’ and add one new biodiversity enhancement to their site, which applies to both new build and refurbishments.

Global strategy

In June 1992, the Convention of Biological Diversity was signed by 159 governments at the Earth Summit, which took place in Rio de Janeiro (the ‘Rio Convention’) which provides a legal framework for global biodiversity conservation. In the UK, Government responded by creating the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) and UK Biodiversity Steering Group in 1993/94.