Natural England has launched three new tools to help calculate the biodiversity net gain of a project or development and ensure they are “nature positive”.
The Biodiversity Metric 3.0 will provide a way of measuring and accounting for nature losses and gains resulting from development or changes in land management.
It will become the industry standard biodiversity metric for all on-land and intertidal development types in England.
In addition, the Small Sites Metric (SSM) – a beta version designed to simplify the process of calculating biodiversity net gain on smaller development sites – and the Environmental Benefits from Nature Tool (EBNT) – which will give developers a way of exploring the benefits habitats bring to people, such as improvements to water quality, flood management services and carbon storage – have also been launched.
They can be used by ecologists or developers carrying out biodiversity assessments, planning authorities who are interpreting metric outputs in planning applications, communities wanting to understand the impacts of local developments as well as landowners or land managers who want to provide biodiversity units from their sites to others.
Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said: “Investing in nature’s recovery is a vital national priority. These innovative new tools will help advance that ambition via the development planning process, ensuring we leave the natural environment – both terrestrial and marine – in a measurably better state than it was before.
“As well as benefiting nature, biodiversity net gain can also give greater access to nature where people live and work, and can streamline the planning process by objectively and transparently quantifying any losses and gains in biodiversity.”