27 Why is biodiversity the next challenge? Global current consumption of natural resources is 25 per cent more than the planet can sustain and as a result species, habitats and local communities are under threat (WWF, 2013). As our understanding of climate change increases, and we begin to experience more extreme weather conditions, there is growing acceptance that we need to create more resilient towns and cities. Traditionally biodiversity is often an afterthought in the built environment and is rarely considered as an integral part of the project. This is because within the construction industry unless it is a protected species or habitat the inclusion of any biodiversity measure is voluntary. Biodiversity needs to become a greater consideration as it is fundamental to increasing resilience in cities. The inclusion of biodiversity through measures such as trees, plants and habitats helps to improve air quality, manage water sustainably, reduces the urban heat island effect and can cut energy consumption. It can also help modify the local environment providing benefits to the local community while also forming linkages to more strategic green space networks. As sustainability becomes a more integrated business practice for the construction industry there should be a greater focus on biodiversity as a ‘must have’ that has multiple benefits. Generally the focus has been on cutting carbon and reducing waste, but as these are becoming more standard practices biodiversity should be the next issue to tackle and there should be greater awareness in the industry. CIRIA’s Biodiversity Interest Group (BIG) Through CIRIA’s work in biodiversity and green infrastructure biodiversity was identified as a key emerging issue for construction. CIRIA’s BIG was formed to provide a forum to share information, discuss key topics, network and help shape its future work in this area. The BIG provides the opportunity for CIRIA’s members from across industry including clients, consultants, contractors and ecologist to discuss current issues, share experience and network. One of the key aspects is to understand the different viewpoints, learn from each other and develop some tangible outputs for the whole industry. Current members of the biodiversity interest group include Arup, Network Rail, Kier, London Underground, Bat Conservation Trust, AECOM, Skanska, Temple Group and BAM Nutall. What were the BIG challenges for 2013? At the BIG’s first meeting, a number of issues and topics were discussed to explore in more detail during the course of the year. After numerous topics were suggested it was agreed that the group would focus on three, which were then discussed at three separate events held in April, June and October: 1 Biodiversity 2020: why we must love the Great Crested Newt? 11 April 2 Biodiversity enhancements on site – Kings Cross site tour, 6 June 3 Skills – the real challenge for biodiversity enhancement, 15 October Biodiversity 2020 – why we must love the Great Crested Newt The aim behind this event was to understand the Biodiversity 2020 targets and how the construction industry is going to reach them. Biodiversity 2020 is the strategy that sets out how England will address its global and EU commitments to halt the decline in biodiversity. The mission for this strategy is: “to halt overall biodiversity loss, support healthy wellfunctioning ecosystems and establish coherent ecological networks, with more and better places for nature for the benefit of wildlife and people.” (Defra, 2011). The key elements of the strategy are: a more integrated large-scale approach to conservation on land and at sea putting people at the heart of biodiversity policy reducing environmental pressures improving knowledge. With these providing the context for the seminar there were some interesting presentations demonstrating what can be done and future opportunities. The current management of the Great Crested Newt (GCN) was discussed and questioned following the presentation about the mapping work that the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust have been undertaking with Natural Resources Wales. Following the presentations there was a discussion session where the following points and comments were made: Issues and challenges: to achieve culture change and commitment of no net loss to biodiversity by 2020 there is a lack of awareness on biodiversity at the top level in the construction industry there is a growing inability to meet species specific targets guidelines focused on individuals are too strict and costly with regards to time and money penalties of law are lenient, and organisations often escape with minimal biodiversity. Incorporating biodiversity: reform a collaborative framework to achieve early design stage problem solving learn from case studies nationally and internationally to create precise applications aim for high level biodiversity targets, aspiring beyond the bare legal minimum work pragmatically towards achieving species specific solutions offsetting is not the only answer – do not think ‘net loss’, think ‘no loss’ enable data sharing and fund information tools revise and condense legislation with stricter penalties to motivate organisations. The experts agreed that a collaborative approach, more research, better information systems and policy updates are needed to maintain momentum in achieving the Biodiversity 2020 targets. Biodiversity enhancements on site – Kings Cross site tour The second event held on 6 June provided the group and delegates with an opportunity to see what biodiversity enhancements are occurring on site. The BIG agreed that the King’s Cross development was an interesting site where several enhancements are being made on a range of scales. The Kings Cross site is one of London’s largest development sites. On such a large site there are many different opportunities both temporary (eg temporary green walls and skip garden) and permanent (eg green wall and green roof). Two of the highlights from the tour were the temporary green wall and the skip gardens, discussed as follows.
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