Biodiversity Net Gain and Residential Gardens

What biodiversity net gain actually is is not widely understood.

Biodiversity Net Gain is likely to become a legal requirement from November 2023 when it is set to become implemented into law in relation to land development works.

A useful summary would begin with: “Biodiversity Net Gain is an approach to development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before. Where a development has an impact on biodiversity it encourages developers to provide an increase in appropriate natural habitat and ecological features over and above that being affected in such a way it is hoped that the current loss of biodiversity through development will be halted and ecological networks can be restored.”

Of course, this does not affect residential gardens but the question is should it affect the way in which we approach their design anyway?

As we battle a growing biodiversity crisis across the globe, interventions we can make in our own gardens may well make a disproportionate difference. Increasing the biodiversity of our garden by at least 10% whenever we make changes is defiately a goal worth striving for. Luckily it’s not really that difficult to achieve…and so increasing the biodiversity of our gardens is something that we can all do.

Perhaps the most important consideration when designing to increase the biodiversity in a garden though is to make sure we are not ‘green-washing’ – installing features that look good on paper but which have a limited or negligible impact in reality. Simple examples would be installing birdboxes for blackbirds at cat height or tiny refuges for invertebrates in full sun.

A carefully thought through approach though can yield measurable results and this is the goal. The four key areas in which gains can be sought when upgrading your garden are:

(1) Plant more trees – small garden trees with spring blossom and autumn berries are ideal as food sources for a range of invertebrates, birds, and mammals

(2) Install a pond – even a small area of water will quickly be colonised by a range of species and will provide water for others

(3) Install artificial habitats in the right places (for example bird boxes, bee boxes, or just piles of wood) to encourage creatures to remain in your garden

(4) Fundamental to it all is vegetation – the planning and execution of planting schemes that create habitat, provide food, and often overlooked but equally crucial, schemes that are aesthetically beautiful that increase the use of spaces by a diversity of people.

Future posts will develop this theme and also look at specific actions to increase biodiversity – and if there are any burning questions you have let us know and it may form part of a future post.