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  • Sioned Owen

The benefit of Open Space Management in the journey to Biodiversity Net Gain

Following the launch of the long-awaited DEFRA 3.0 Biodiversity Gain (BNG) Metric in July, considered a Biodiversity milestone, questions have been raised by our clients surrounding the principles and guidance of BNG and how we can assist them on their journey and support their commitment to sustainable development.

BNG is there to benefit future development and will be part of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) going forward. Within the framework, the government set out the environmental objectives including protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment, improving biodiversity and moving to a low carbon economy.

The BNG metric is designed to assist planners and developers, providing them with an accurate way to assess the changes in biodiversity as a result of construction, development and other works that impact the environment. The metric is habitat based, taking key information about the area and inputting it into the algorithm. This provides the landscape with an initial score defining how valuable it is for biodiversity.

This is where Public Open Space (POS) Management Companies come in. Management companies have the most impact during the on-site, off-site and management, maintenance & monitoring (MM&M) stages. Dedicated year-round management and maintenance of POS can support the journey of developers, private asset owners and landlords in a number of ways. Ultimately, well managed POS can improve air quality, encourage thriving plants and wildlife, reduce risk of harm from environmental hazards and help connect more people with the environment for improved wellbeing.

On Resident Funded Schemed (RFS) we compile project reviews, site surveys and value engineering together with a database of workable solutions to assist the developers design team. In terms of off-site, it’s key to identify a suitable alternative to off-site land, securing long term access in excess of the 25 to 30 years required by the Land Authority.

This supports the creation of an adaptive long-term MM&M strategy to ensure that the development becomes established and the required levels of BNG are achieved. Adaptive management over time, informed by monitoring allows BNG to be achieved through the life cycle of the development. This will be vital to ensure that projected gains are achieved and will need to be embedded within the Management Company arrangements on all new developments.

When it comes to Private Transfers where biodiversity is being improved through a retrospective approach, knowledgeable management companies are able to advise where gains can be made and how habitats can be greatly improved. Trustgreen identify further gains on existing developments that can add additional units to our client’s habitat bank for off-setting on future sites. We have begun pilot testing existing developments to establish a base line and any net gain that can be achieved, with the view to examine our existing Open Space portfolio to better understand their future potential.

We are committed to raising awareness and ensuring the long-term protection of local biodiversity, which is why we are proud to be supporting this year’s BIG Biodiversity Challenge and Awards. Working together, we can achieve long term success by conserving, restoring and enhancing priority habitats and identify opportunities for securing measurable net gains for biodiversity.

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