Researchers consult with Oxford University Estate Services on biodiversity net gain

Copyright © University of Oxford Images / John Cairns Photography

In September, Nat Duffus presented a quick guide for planners and developers on assessing biodiversity net gain plans to the University of Oxford Biodiversity Sub-Group. This guide was produced by the Agile Initiative sprint “How do we account for biodiversity?”

The sub-group were interested in how biodiversity net gain proposals can be quickly assessed to identify fundamental errors, and how development can ensure optimal outcomes for both biodiversity and people. The presentation stimulated interesting discussion on the potential pitfalls of BNG, and how to reconcile what people sometimes expect from a development (e.g., neat lawns) and what wildlife will need from a development (flowery, messy lawns!). 

The Biodiversity Sub-Group are part of Oxford University Estate Services, and their goal is to measure, report and compensate for the damage to biodiversity caused by the University’s operations, as well as implement plans to enhance biodiversity on the University estate and beyond. They have set a target of quantifiable biodiversity net gain of 20% for all development projects on University land, and were keen to hear the Sprint team’s advice on BNG. They plan to integrate the ‘Assessing Biodiversity Net Gain plans’ guidance into the University’s Sustainable Design Strategy.

The top tips checklist will be a useful tool for the sub-group moving forward, allowing them to quickly spot BNG errors, and promote ‘best-in-class’ BNG on university developments.

Nat Duffus said, ”It was incredibly exciting to present this output to a group of potential users and understand how our tool might be used when evaluating development plans. It is fantastic that the Sprint team’s work is being used by such a wider variety of stakeholders, even within the University of Oxford itself!”

You can view more of the team’s outputs on their sprint page.