The UK Authorities has launched a session on rules wanted to make sure all new developments obtain a ten% web acquire in biodiversity, as set out within the Surroundings Act 2021. These rules will decide how will increase in biodiversity can be measured, how and the place habitat will be created, and the way biodiversity web acquire can be enforced.
WWT strongly welcomes this requirement for all developments to contribute to the restoration of nature by way of biodiversity web acquire requirements as a result of this has the potential to supply habitat for wildlife whereas integrating high-quality blue house into communities.
Biodiversity web acquire requirements even have the potential to channel giant quantities of personal finance from builders in the direction of the restoration and creation of wetlands, particularly in city areas, serving to obtain WWT’s ambition of 100,000 hectares of recent and restored wetlands throughout the UK. For this to occur, nonetheless, the rules should be sure that current uncommon habitats are preserved, high-quality habitat is created and that that is preserved by way of efficient enforcement.
Frequent Snipe, copyright Glyn Sellors, from the surfbirds galleries
How can these new biodiversity rules be efficient and assist wetlands?
To be efficient and assist obtain a Blue Restoration by way of the restoration and creation of wetlands, the rules and the metric for measuring web acquire ought to obtain the next:
They should clarify that attaining a web acquire in biodiversity doesn’t take away the requirement to comply with the mitigation hierarchy with respect to areas of habitat deliberate for improvement. This implies avoiding hurt to biodiversity wherever potential, minimising impacts the place this isn’t potential, and at last compensating for hurt the place avoidance and minimisation are usually not potential. The emphasis on this within the session is welcome and ought to be bolstered within the rules.
They need to prioritise habitat creation and restoration on-site, and the place this isn’t potential habitat creation or restoration as near the positioning as potential. That is to make sure vital areas for species are usually not misplaced and pure areas that present a significant well being and wellbeing useful resource to native communities are usually not destroyed with out offering different areas for folks to entry nature. The session makes clear that on-site habitat restoration and creation ought to be given precedence.
They need to ensure that habitats are changed with like habitats. That is vital in order that the place wetlands are affected by improvement, they’re changed with new and higher wetlands. Wetlands are probably the most biodiverse habitats on earth, with many vital and endangered species relying on them for his or her existence. Additionally blue house has been proven to be notably useful for wellbeing, so we can’t afford to lose wetlands to improvement. At the moment the metric for measuring web acquire doesn’t adequately guarantee wetlands are changed with wetlands, which means valuable habitats may very well be misplaced.
They need to guarantee habitat created and restored is of a top quality and linked collectively. That is vital to keep away from the creation of small pockets of low-quality habitat which fulfill any metric used to measure web acquire, however which in actuality are too disjointed to assist nature’s restoration. The proposals don’t presently give enough consideration to creating linked habitat.
Efficient mechanisms for high quality checking and enforcement will even be key if biodiversity is to be protected, which implies giving planning authorities the instruments and assets required to verify biodiversity web acquire plans and maintain to account builders who fail to ship the promised acquire.
WWT can be responding to the session to ensure the rules bear in mind what is required to get probably the most potential for wetlands from biodiversity web acquire. We will even be working with our companions throughout the character sector to make sure that the federal government creates a biodiversity web acquire system that works for wildlife and folks.
Biodiversity web acquire has huge potential for wetlands however the precept alone is just not sufficient. It should be backed up with efficient implementation that takes under consideration the significance of wetland habitat for biodiversity.