The need to reverse biodiversity decline is moving up the agenda fast. Biodiversity net gain is at the heart of the new Environment Bill and will become a legal requirement for new builds in the future, with many local authorities already looking at ways to incorporate it into planning requirements.
Climate change and nature loss are inextricably linked, as the UKGBC says in its recently published report, Principles for delivering urban nature-based solutions. The UK Business Biodiversity Forum, launched in March 2021, aims to make biodiversity mainstream and help companies of all types to take action.
“If we take care of nature, nature will take care of us.” – David Attenborough, Our Planet
Delivering biodiversity net gain in refurbishment projects presents more of a challenge than for new builds. Yet Willmott Dixon Interiors has set itself the goal of delivering quantifiable net environmental improvements on all our projects, not only minimising our impact but actively restoring nature, by 2030.
Measurement is important: we have started working with Defra’s Biodiversity Metric tool. Find out about how we left a biodiversity legacy on site at Dorset Country Hospital here.
Where opportunities exist, we will work with our customers to integrate habitat-boosting design enhancements, like green roofs, bird bricks and soft landscaping. However, as fit-out and refurbishment projects often afford limited scope and space for improvements on site, we will need to think creatively on some projects to make positive changes to the environment.
By connecting with off-site locations, schools and charities like The Wildlife Trust, our plan is to maximise opportunities to improve nature in the communities where we work, through volunteering and building new wildlife spaces.
We have set ourselves the goal of planting over 15,000 trees by 2030, working with specially selected charities so that we plant the right trees in the right place, delivering maximum benefits for the environment. By planting trees in the hearts of communities, our aim is to enrich people’s lives too, connecting people with nature and helping them access the wellbeing benefits of trees.
Whilst there are certainly challenges, the bold ambition of delivering environmental net gain on every project presents an exciting opportunity to leave a positive natural legacy. Using the Defra metric to deliver measurable biodiversity improvements is a new journey for us and we look forward to sharing updates on the impact we make.