The purpose of this Guidance Note is to provide asset managers, property managers and facilities managers with information about gathering information to establish a biodiversity baseline.
Although the built environment can be responsible for the loss of green space and habitats, asset managers, working together with property managers and occupiers, can reverse this trend by considering biodiversity in the way a property is designed and managed.
Biodiversity relates to the variety and amount of flora and fauna, i.e., plants and animals, that exist in a location. Establishing a biodiversity baseline involves undertaking an ecological survey to identify and describe the species, habitats and other biodiversity that exists at a location at a particular point in time.
Establishing a biodiversity baseline both informs decisions that may affect biodiversity and can inform the assessment of changes in biodiversity at that location over time. A biodiversity baseline can provide asset and property managers with the information they need to mitigate biodiversity risk, responsibly manage a site and identify biodiversity enhancement opportunities.
A biodiversity baseline provides a first step in conserving and enhancing the biodiversity of a site. This can help in complying with compliance with Biodiversity Net Gain requirements for new developments, as well as ongoing monitoring and maintenance of existing assets.
As well as identifying areas of ecological value, an ecological survey can also contribute towards:
The table below summarises the key activities associated with establishing a biodiversity baseline through the process of an ecological survey, and highlights where asset managers, property managers and facilities managers are likely to have a responsibility or specific interest.
1. Understanding the purpose of an ecological survey
2. Commissioning a survey
3. Identifying the required survey type
4. Reviewing risk
5. Mapping green space needs
Establishing a biodiversity baseline at a property involves input from a range of specialists during the process of undertaking an ecological survey.
Usually, the decision to establish a baseline will be instructed by an asset manager and coordinated by a property manager with support and input from a facilities manager.
Establishing a biodiversity baseline involves consideration of the following elements as part of undertaking an ecological survey:
Ecology surveys can help to inform asset and property managers about potential green space opportunities as well as provide information regarding the habitats and species that currently exist within an area.
Undertaking an ecological survey can contribute towards:
Where an asset does not have any existing green space, it is still important to carry out an ecology survey which may identify hidden risks, such as roosting bats, for example.
Ecological surveys should be undertaken by an appropriately experienced and suitably qualified ecologist. Surveyors should meet the competencies set out by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and should hold the relevant species licence, where applicable, relating to the survey being carried out.
Ecology surveys are commonly valid for a period of twelve to twenty-four months depending on the type of survey and associated conditions. An ecologist can provide guidance in relation to the validity of each survey on a project specific basis.
When procuring ecological surveys, it is important that a property manager considers timings and access limitations. A suitably qualified ecologist will be able to advice on these.
When procuring ecological surveys, it is important to be aware of the different survey types that are available. A suitably qualified ecologist will be able to advice on these.
Example of ecological survey types include:
Undertaking an ecological survey as part of establishing a biodiversity baseline can help to identify biodiversity risks, such as, for example, protected species or habitats already established on site. It is important that these risks are prepared for and managed.
To identify risk a property manager should:
Where a risk has been identified, a suitably qualified ecologist can help to plan required actions that will mitigate this risk. For example, this may involve planning demolition or tree removal works outside of birds nesting season.
Once an ecology survey has been carried out, it is important to consider the green space needs. This should include consideration of how a property can support local biodiversity as well as various users.
Mapping stakeholders’ needs is a useful exercise for property managers during the process of considering the installation and enhancement of green space. This can help to define the objectives of a green space project and ensure that benefits are optimised.
Mapping stakeholders’ green space needs can inform initial design ideas and support the development of a business case for installation and on-going maintenance. A mapping exercise typically involves:
The following Guidance Notes contain related information:
Green Roofs in Central London
When British Land first included green roofs in its Sustainability Brief for Developments in 2004, the firm needed to work closely with its design partners and property teams to design, plant and maintain habitats that really enhanced biodiversity. Since then, British Land has created green roofs on 12 new buildings in central London, with more under design, and has successfully retrofitted them to three existing buildings. Read the case study here.
Hermes Completes Landmark Restoration at NOMA, Manchester
Hermes Investment Management and partners have completed the restoration of Hanover House at NOMA, Manchester. Together, they have transformed a Grade II listed building into an exceptional and beautiful Grade A office building, blending heritage with contemporary design. Many of the building’s original characteristics have been sensitively restored, alongside upgrades to building fabric and systems that have created a dynamic working environment for future generations. Read the case study here.