Berkeley Group’s Approach to Net Biodiversity Gain

Laura Boccadamo, Group Sustainability Manager, Berkeley Group discusses the importance of Net Biodiversity Gain as highlighted in their 2018 Award winning project.

The importance of biodiversity 
Biodiversity plays an important role within our towns and cities as it helps to improve air quality, provides resilience to climate change, adds amenity value and supports wellbeing. Despite this, biodiversity continues to decrease at an alarming rate. New development can help to reverse this trend, by providing the opportunity to incorporate green infrastructure and deliver biodiversity enhancements.

At the Berkeley Group we want our developments to make a lasting contribution to the landscape and to the communities we help create. We want to do more than slow or halt the decline in biodiversity. We want to help reverse it.

The Berkeley Group’s commitment to net biodiversity gain
In 2016, we set an industry leading commitment through our business strategy, Our Vision, to ‘develop and apply an approach to ensure that all new developments create a net biodiversity gain’. Put simply, there should be more nature afterwards than before development began. At the time of launching our commitment, no other developer had committed to improving biodiversity across all developments.

Our approach to net biodiversity gain 
From then, we began developing a new approach to ensuring that all new Berkeley Group developments create a net biodiversity gain, regardless of their size, context or previous use. We saw this as an opportunity to maximise the positive impacts of our developments on their local environments and communities.

To create a net biodiversity gain on a development, first we look to understand and measure the existing biodiversity on the site. Next, we incorporate features in the design to create a net gain, and now we are looking to ensure that implementation of recommended measures occur. 

Measurement with the Berkeley Group Biodiversity Toolkit
The toolkit enables teams to monitor and manage biodiversity throughout the project. Calculators within the toolkit enable teams to baseline habitats on site and determine how a net gain can be created. The toolkit is based on industry leading best practice, and is used by our project teams and their appointed ecologists on every new site.

Design principles for net biodiversity gain
Taking a holistic approach is key to designing and delivering biodiverse places. To help project teams consider concepts such as connectivity, links to the community, and local ecological character and distinctiveness, we worked with The Ecology Consultancy to develop a set of nine overarching design principles that can be applied to help deliver a net gain for biodiversity. These are contained within a guide called The Nine Concepts: Making Space for Nature and Beauty, along with examples of how they can be applied in practice.

Implementation and next steps: achieving net biodiversity gain
We now apply the Berkeley Group Biodiversity Toolkit to every new site. Since launching the toolkit, over 20 developments have baselined the site at planning and have identified through the design process how a net biodiversity gain can be created. As these sites move into construction, we will continue to work with our contractors and local stakeholders to ensure a net biodiversity gain is delivered.

In May 2018, we extended our commitment to ensuring that all new developments create a net biodiversity gain through construction and post completion. 

Case study: 2018 BIG Biodiversity Award winning project - Kidbrooke Village wetlands project with the London Wildlife Trust 

Our net biodiversity gain commitment has also prompted some existing developments to revisit their planting and landscaping. Located within London’s Zone 3, Kidbrooke Village is a large regeneration project set to deliver 4,800 homes, shops, health facilities, restaurants, offices, community facilities and new open spaces. As part of the early phases of the project, an area of parkland (inset photo:  Cator Park, Kidbrooke Village) was delivered.

Inspired by the commitment and work on biodiversity, the project team wanted to do more to enhance biodiversity. They partnered with the London Wildlife Trust and have been  working together to transform the existing parkland into a wetland area that attracts wildlife and people. The London Wildlife Trust baselined the biodiversity of the site using our Biodiversity Toolkit, and created a new landscape strategy that would ensure a net biodiversity gain. The landscaping enhancements were implemented from April 2018, and are transforming the area into a beautiful landscape that offers benefits for wildlife and people.

For further information and case studies on our approach to net biodiversity gain, please visit our website here.

Find out more about CIRIA's BIG Biodiversity Challenge