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Biodiversity Net Gain surveys for sustainable development

Biodiversity Net Gain Surveys: A Tool for Sustainable Development

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) Surveys are an essential tool in assessing the impact of new developments on biodiversity, ensuring a balance between progress and ecological preservation. They utilise biodiversity metrics to measure habitat data before and after development, adhering to the increasing demands of local planning authorities.

Unlike traditional biodiversity offsetting, BNG Surveys strive for a net improvement in biodiversity rather than mere compensation. Their implementation involves a thorough mitigation hierarchy and meticulous planning. Ultimately, these surveys ensure ecological sustainability and compliance with environmental standards, embodying a forward-thinking approach to development and conservation.

Introduction to Biodiversity Net Gain Surveys

In ecological conservation, Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) Surveys have emerged as a fundamental tool for assessing the impact of development projects on biodiversity. These surveys are pivotal in ensuring that any habitat loss is compensated and results in a net improvement in biodiversity. This concept aligns perfectly with the ethos of RSS Infrastructure (RSSI), which partners across sectors such as rail, construction, and utilities to offer expert ecological guidance and ensure environmental compliance.

The Calculation of Biodiversity Net Gain

The process of calculating BNG is intricate and relies on a biodiversity metric. This metric evaluates the pre- and post-development habitat data, translating these into “biodiversity units.” The goal is to achieve at least a 10% net gain in biodiversity for most new developments in the UK, a requirement under the UK Environment Act 2021. The current standard metric is Natural England’s Biodiversity Metric 4, used by various stakeholders, from ecologists to landowners, to assess biodiversity values consistently.

How Biodiversity Net Gain Surveys Work

RSSI’s Biodiversity Net Gain Surveys extend beyond mere compliance; they aim to enhance biodiversity and leave a positive environmental impact. These surveys involve comparing the baseline conditions of a site with the planned post-development conditions to ascertain any improvements in biodiversity. This methodology aligns with RSSI’s commitment to ecological excellence and sustainability, ensuring that every project they undertake balances development needs with environmental stewardship.

Balancing Conservation and Development

The challenge lies in finding the delicate balance between conservation and infrastructure development. Ecological services act as mediators, facilitating collaborative solutions prioritising environmental preservation and human progress.

By fostering partnerships between ecologists, urban planners and infrastructure developers, a shared understanding can be achieved, resulting in projects that meet the needs of society while respecting the ecological integrity of the surrounding environment.

Biodiversity Net Gain vs. Biodiversity Offsetting

While both concepts are centred around mitigating the impact of development on biodiversity, they differ significantly. Biodiversity offsetting focuses on compensating for ecological damage, typically through habitat restoration or creation. Biodiversity Net Gain, however, goes a step further by ensuring a net improvement in biodiversity. This approach aligns more with today’s environmental responsibility ethos, where balancing development and ecological preservation is crucial.

Implementation Differences Between Biodiversity Offsetting and BNG

Implementing biodiversity offsetting involves following a mitigation hierarchy that prioritises avoiding, minimising, and restoring harm before considering offsets. In contrast, BNG aims for a net improvement in biodiversity post-development. This is achieved by integrating ecological considerations into various project stages, from initial assessments to the final execution, ensuring that habitat loss is effectively mitigated.

The Role of Ecologists in Biodiversity Net Gain Surveys

Ecology Services, such as those provided by RSSI, play a critical role in successfully implementing BNG surveys. Services like Preliminary Ecological Assessments, Environmental Impact Assessments, and habitat restoration initiatives are integral to this process. These services, combined with the expertise of ecologists and other professionals, ensure that ecological sustainability is woven into the fabric of every development project.


Biodiversity Net Gain Surveys represent a significant stride towards ecological sustainability and compliance with environmental standards. By integrating these surveys into the development process, companies like RSSI are not just offering a service but are partnering with clients to build a more sustainable future. With a deep understanding of ecological needs and regulations, these surveys serve as a testament to the commitment towards balancing development with environmental stewardship.

Contact RSS Infrastructure

Connect with Alex Blundell, our Principal Ecologist, for an insightful discussion on how we can support your environmental goals. Call us at 0330 113 0004 or ecology@rssinfrastructure.com

About Us

RSS Infrastructure (RSSI), based in Birmingham, Cwmbran, Doncaster and Tonbridge, provides infrastructure services for the rail, civil, and utilities sectors. We serve clients like Network Rail, WMCA, HS2 and Tier 1 & 2 contractors. Our services include Arboriculture, Civils and Construction, Geofencing, Industrial Rope Access (IRATA), Magnetic Track Safety, Rail Operations including Possession Management and P/Way, Rail Welding, Signalling, and Track Warning Services.

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