Environment Services

Short-Term Improvements to Biodiversity on Housing Development Sites

With upcoming biodiversity recovery legislation changes coming into play, what can housing developers do to start improving biodiversity on sites straight away?

Whether it is part of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) efforts, environmental sustainability improvements or adherence to biodiversity net gain (BNG) legislative requirements, many housing developers are assessing how they can improve biodiversity.

In this blog, we detail effective options which could start to show benefits to biodiversity within a year.

Options for Housing Developers to Improve Biodiversity in the Short-Term

One of the best ways to improve biodiversity is to expand the existing types of habitat and the structure of vegetation across a development site.


While many changes made to improve habitats will take some years to establish themselves, there are both man-made and natural enhancements which can encourage the growth of some species and expansion of habitats straight away.


1. Improving Soil Biodiversity

Reducing soil disturbance and changing up mowing patterns can reduce the impact on a site’s existing habitats and allow important species to flourish.


2. Site Drainage

Where appropriate, increased site drainage can bring improvements to habitats quickly but must be done sympathetically to the existing biodiversity within it.


In many cases local authorities are able to apply for woodland growth funding via Helping local authorities respond to the biodiversity emergency - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


3. Wild Food Sources

Working from the soil up to protect and maintain wild food sources can help animals and insects to thrive. For example, leaving the fruit on any native berry hedgerows or shrubs until early spring can help bolster their food supply during the colder months.


Establishing locations where pollen and nectar wildflower areas could be added can prove an important additional food source for birds, although the benefits can take up to a year to come to fruition, and need to be part of a longer term plan.


This activity is something that new home owners could also be encouraged to do on their individual garden areas and around the site.

Create and maintain pollen and nectar plots - Farming (blog.gov.uk)

4. Protecting Trees
Where trees and woodland already exist, simply protecting them can aid the way in which they support the ecosystem of species around them.


One example is an oak tree, which can support 2,300 species of plants and wildlife. 326 of these species can only survive on oak, so protecting the tree and its habitat potential is vital.


Why are Trees Important for Biodiversity? - Woodland Trust


5. Creating Natural Habitats
Simply allowing untreated, native logs to rot is another important way to help insect species by protecting them and giving them the environment to grow, for example the rare violet click beetle.





For more information on measuring the impact of biodiversity net gain investments, please visit here (fera.co.uk).


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