- Rosie Whicheloe, Ecologist
First day of judging
The BIG Biodiversity Challenge Awards, in-line with its motto, “Do One Thing” aims to generate positive action for biodiversity. Enhancements may be small, but choosing one thing and doing it well can have far-reaching and long term benefits. “Replicability” is important, and out of all the criteria, this measure stands out as being an important legacy. If the project is replicable then it increases the chance that other organisations (not yet involved in the BIG Biodiversity Challenge) may be inspired to implement something similar, which is all the better for biodiversity.
Identifying a suitable enhancement is far from easy though and often requires project teams and individuals to push for a change in behaviour, sometimes spending their own time to find a better solution. This is particularly commendable when biodiversity is promoted by non-ecologists. It is right then, that the enthusiasm and hard work of these individuals are championed within the industry, with 2017 being the first year that the BIG Biodiversity Champion Award has been introduced. I’d like to say a personal good luck to those 22 nominated, as without them many of the projects would struggle to find their feet.
As for the project award entries themselves, the judges’ initial thoughts were of the high calibre of entries, a step up from previous years. This meant a difficult day for the category judges who had to assess the best out of a large number of entries. Nice to see was the main contractor or developer teaming up with a wildlife organisation to help deliver the enhancement work. This goes to show the long-term commitment organisations are making to ensure enhancements really make a difference to biodiversity. In the true spirit of CIRIA, I hope these partnerships continue to grow in number and variety. A second day of judging is also scheduled this year which involves interviews to help tease out final shortlist and winning projects. For those short-listed, the 24th July is not far away now.