As policy makers and stakeholders gather in Egypt for COP27, they're tasked with mapping out a plan of desperately needed action to address the urgency of the global climate crisis.
This year, COP27 are holding Biodiversity Day, with the aim of opening up a constructive dialogue to ensure we’re on track to secure biodiversity, a stable climate, and sustainable development for all. And we're using this opportunity to highlight the potential of nature-based solutions to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss together.
Biodiversity Day reminds us of how the impacts of climate change are intensifying the current biodiversity crisis. Hear from Mike Barker, Director of Ecology at RPS, on why we're advocating nature-based solutions and leading on biodiversity net gain.
Biodiversity supports everything in nature we need to survive: food, clean water, and shelter. We depend on ecosystems functioning. But climate change is accelerating habitat loss and degradation on land and water, endangering many species.
Human-driven actions are disrupting vital ecosystems and accelerating the climate and biodiversity crises, damaging wetland, grassland, and woodland habitats.
CO2 is causing the ocean to become more acidic. By 2100, it’s expected that acidity levels will alter ocean chemistry and dissolve shells and corals. This change will have a detrimental impact on ecosystems, hugely affecting habitats and food chains.
Species across many different environments are becoming endangered as a result of human interference and climate change. Habitat loss and degradation is disrupting ecosystems and causing imbalances in the natural environment.
But not all is lost. Factoring in Biodiversity Net Gain during development aims to create or enhance habitats to improve biodiversity, leaving the environment in a better state than it was before.
The protection and restoration of nature is vital if we’re to halt biodiversity loss and reduce the impacts of climate change. Harnessing the power of nature, Nature-based solutions (NbS) can be utilised to deliver scalable and affordable action to benefit both society and biodiversity.
Designed to protect, restore and manage ecosystems, they provide a range of benefits, including enhanced biodiversity, flood alleviation, better livelihoods for local communities, and they contribute to greenhouse gas reductions, either by storing carbon or by preventing its release.
But balancing biodiversity, conservation, development and growth is a pressing challenge for governments across the globe. How do we utilise NbS to get the much-needed benefits they offer?
Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is an approach that aims to ensure developments have a positive ecological impact, delivering improvements through habitat creation or enhancement after avoiding or mitigating harm. We want to leave sites in a better condition than how they were found. And whilst it only applies to development in England at the moment, it is expected that other nations will look to similar legislation in the near future.
Find out more about Biodiversity Net Gain and how to deliver it.
So how are we making a difference?
Meet some of our ecology specialists below where you'll hear about their career journey, responsibilities, and how their role can contribute in the fight against climate change.
Tessa is a Marine Ecologist, supporting wind farm developers to navigate the consenting process to ensure development doesn't negatively impact marine mammals.
Stephen is an Ecologist specialising in upland habitats and their peatland ecosystems, helping developers improve the biodiversity within their sites.
Nora is a Freshwater Ecologist specialising in habitat assessments and advising on design requirements, such as influencing watercourse crossing designs to ensure fish migration is maintained.
Kevin is a Marine Ecologist, responsible for a team of marine ecology and Habitat Regulation Assessment (HRA) specialists within RPS, meeting the increased demand for offshore wind both in the UK and overseas.
Hannah is an Ecologist, helping developers achieve their aspirations whilst simultaneously protecting and enhancing the environment.
Frances is an Ecologist and is developing the use of conservation detection dogs in surveying for protected species.
Miles is an Ecologist, assessing the impact of projects, such as roads, rail, and wind energy, on wildlife.
Rob is an Ecologist, currently working on a range of nationally-critical projects, including contributing to the delivery of Ireland's 2030 renewable energy target.
In their recent report on climate change, the Environmental Agency’s prevailing message is morbid: 'Adapt or die'. Our environmental specialists explore how our approach to climate change must be refined for us to see significant and promising progress in reducing the built environment's harm to the planet.
The recently updated Biodiversity Metric 3.1 could mean some developments in England are no longer hitting the mark when it comes to biodiversity net gain.
And with a non-negotiable BNG needed to secure planning, this can be a big problem for those sites assessed before the updated metric came into place in April this year. Here, Director of Ecology, Mike Barker uses his experience on a recent solar project to show the impact of these changes and demonstrate why it’s advisable to review any projects assessed using previous calculators.
Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history. But the Government’s recent announcement, setting out plans to tackle biodiversity loss and climate change is a crucial step forward in restoring nature and safeguarding the environment for the future. Director of Ecology, Mike Barker looks at the implications for developers and landowners moving forward.
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