Nature & Biodiversity

UKGBC’s vision for a sustainable built environment is one that embraces and restores nature and promotes biodiversity.

The effect of human enterprise on the earth’s climate and habitats are causing scientists to herald a new geological epoch: the ‘Anthropocene’. This would be the world’s sixth mass extinction event, and the first to be caused by one species only.

The UK has an important role to play in reversing this trend – both through its influence in the global supply chain and by restoring our own greatly depleted natural resources. It is in the latter that buildings and cities can play a vital role. The natural capital in our urban areas delivers important functions by providing green space, tree cover and biodiversity. Fortunately, investing in these areas comes with its own wealth of benefits; improving air quality, sequestering carbon, cooling cities and enhancing wellbeing to the people who live in cities.

Take trees for instance. Since the agrarian revolution, the tree stock in the UK has been greatly depleted only recently showing signs of recovery. But as a significant proportion of the total tree cover is in urban areas (286,500 hectares) cities can play an important role in restoring the total stock, while also bringing benefits to the cities. These benefits have led developers more recently to enhance local ecology and even create strategies for net biodiversity gain.

Ozone, nitrogen dioxide, PM10 and PM2.5 are thought to be some of the most harmful air pollutants. While PM10 is typically caused by construction and waste management, nitrogen dioxide is mostly caused by diesel traffic emissions. The planning and design of our built environment play an important role in ensuring that sustainable transport options are used, either by building in cycling, running or walking facilities or by ensuring the location is close to sustainable transport modes.