BNG requirements could absorb 650,000 tonnes of carbon each year

13th March 2024


The UK’s new biodiversity net gain (BNG) requirements could create 15,000 hectares of woodlands, heath, grasslands, and wetlands and absorb 650,000 tonnes of carbon each year.

That is according to new research from biodiversity tech start-up Joe’s Blooms, which estimates that the annual carbon emission savings would be equivalent to nearly 200,000 round trip flights from London to New York.

As well as carbon sequestration, the new rules will protect England’s native plant and animal species – with recent data from the Woodland Trust finding that one-third of all woodland species are diminishing.

“This analysis adds to mounting evidence that nature recovery fuelled by BNG, whether it’s restoring wildlife-rich habitats or creating green corridors to bridge together fragmented habitats, will play a central role in boosting the UK’s resilience to climate change,” said Robin McArthur, chair of the Joe’s Blooms Advisory Board.

“Developers and local authorities have an opportunity to build the homes we so desperately need whilst also making a nature-positive contribution to the climate crisis.”

The BNG rules came into force last month and require all major housing developments in England to deliver at least a 10% increase in biodiversity. They will also be mandatory for small developments as of April 2.

Developers will be obliged to avoid harm to nature, but if that’s not possible, they must create new habitats or enhance existing ones, either within the site itself or by investing in nature sites elsewhere.

Local authorities will help enforce the new rules, and will be given £10.6m of funding to recruit and expand ecologist teams.

The estimate for carbon savings from BNG are based on the assumption that the government meets its housing target of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

Commenting on the introduction of the new rules, IEMA's policy and engagement lead for biodiversity and natural capital, Lesley Wilson, said: "The introduction of BNG is full of potential to improve outcomes for nature, but it’s important that developers and local authorities work as allies to put the right habitat in the right place.

"The process might not be perfect from the start, but if it’s managed well, then this can be a key driver to deliver the nature restoration we need."

Learn more about the BNG requirements here: IEMA - Biodiversity Net Gain arrives in England

IEMA has also published a report on BNG best practice here: IEMA - Biodiversity Net Gain - Good Practice Insights - July 2023

You can watch IEMA webinars on BNG here:

IEMA - Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) Baseline and Design

IEMA - Biodiversity Net Gain: BNG Implementation and Stakeholder Engagement

IEMA - Biodiversity Net Gain_ Ongoing BNG Management & Monitoring

Image credit: Shutterstock

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