Our ecology team have continued to explore the ways in which biodiversity gains can be achieved outside of classical planning drivers. We have worked with several high-profile developers, asset and fund managers and landowners to develop new approaches to ESG-linked biodiversity reporting, ecosystem service valuation, environmental net gain delivery and climate resilience, leveraging the multifaceted benefits provided by nature-based solutions.
One exciting initiative has had the team working with our climate and energy colleagues to model projected climate risk for a group of managed assets, enabling focused green infrastructure interventions to be prescribed which address evidence based risk; this approach can then be used to reflect relatively new ESG standards such as Task Force for Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) compliant reporting, whilst also reflecting existing corporate aspirations for the delivery of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG). This also allows clients to be on the front foot for the emerging Task Force for Nature Related Financial Disclosure (TNFD), which is likely to gain greater traction in coming years.
Such an approach is also being used on the early stages of several rewilding projects. Greengage are working to capture the potential biodiversity unit change alongside other ecosystem service co-benefits, such as carbon sequestration and storage. Being able to measure the wider benefits from such nature-based solutions potentially opens new markets for biodiversity and carbon co-benefit credits. There are, of course, challenges regarding additionality and risk of devaluation of credit value, however we are working on solutions for these.
Finally, we have worked on ground-breaking environmental net gain assessment projects, in which we have designed and applied bespoke ecosystem service valuation matrices, allowing a proxy measure of improvement of broad service delivery (e.g flood risk, Urban Heat Island risk, air quality) through a biodiversity led intervention. These matrices are being verified through real world biophysical measurement of changes in the services, with data to be collected over coming years. This has included the collection of data on carbon storage in soils and tree stocks, the changes in which can be linked to differing habitat creation and management approaches. We will soon therefore have raw verifiable data for the extent to which different green infrastructures in urban environments can quantitatively influence carbon capture and storage.
With the science and understanding of how nature-based solutions can be used outside of typical planning scenarios, we have found that many of our clients are now therefore seeking to capture their own biodiversity baseline and set aspirations for quantifiable improvements in biodiversity, exactly as they do for carbon and other sustainability themes. This work, alongside our progressive approach to planning project ecological design, means that biodiversity can have a seat at the table alongside the other sustainability themes that have tended to dominate the conversation in recent years. After all, the climate and biodiversity crises are not mutually exclusive; we cannot solve one without addressing the other, so viewing assets and new development through these eyes allows optimal outcomes to be achieved for clients and the environment.
To speak to one of our team about how Greengage can help with your corporate biodiversity policy, ESG reporting or other innovation projects, contact Morgan Taylor, our Director of Ecology.