What makes a successful Biodiversity Action Plan?

A Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) is designed to protect and enhance the biological diversity of an ecosystem. The original driver behind these plans was the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which has currently been signed by a total of 168 countries. All signatories committed to producing national biodiversity strategies and action plans as the main way of implementing the Convention (article 6).

Below the national level many businesses have started implementing BAPs for their site locations in order to promote net positive impact on biodiversity from their operations. So what should be included in a successful BAP?

Firstly, it is important to provide some basic context with a short definition of biodiversity and its interpretation in the plan. Going beyond biological diversity, let’s be specific as to whether this is native or introduced species. Depending on the regional goals, what is acceptable may vary. It would also be beneficial to briefly introduce the Convention on Biological Diversity. After all, having a concept signed off by 168 countries lends some weight and international context to what you may be doing in one small area of green space down the side of your office.

 

Once we have context the next step is to identify the protected species already in residence on or in close proximity to the site. A full list for the UK can be found on the gov.uk website and will be highlighted during any ecological surveys conducted for the site. Depending on the drivers for the plan, the author may choose to extend the plan’s coverage to include other species of interest or specific habitats. It would be useful to build a simple profile for all of the species identified including their habitat preferences, breeding or nesting seasons and any pressures and opportunities for improving their status in the area.

Once the species and habitats to be included in the plan have been identified, we need to develop one or more objectives for each. This might be to promote more nesting sites, enhance numbers or increase people’s awareness of biodiversity more broadly. With the objectives identified, actions can then be assigned along with the people responsible for ensuring their delivery. It will be important to ensure that those assigned responsibility are given appropriate support including time and training to ensure they are able to complete actions assigned.

Besides those assigned with responsibility for delivering the objectives, other stakeholders should be identified for engagement. This might include the Client, residents, local schools and businesses or charities. Any ecological experts may also need to be consulted on control measures for works in close proximity to protected species or indeed ideas and direction on enhancing habitats.

The BAP should also specify how progress will be monitored. This should distinguish between:

  1. Quantity – The net change in the number of one or a mix of species.
  2. Quality – The long-term sustainability of the biodiversity and the satisfaction of relevant stakeholders.

Quantity can be assessed through ecological surveys or less arduous processes such as site walks and bird watching initiatives. Quality may require consultation with stakeholders in the form of meetings or surveys to establish views on the changes made to the site.

Finally, it is important that the BAP is communicated to everyone working at the site and those affected by it. By engaging with as many people as possible, the BAP will benefit from a multitude of ideas and suggestions for improvement and biodiversity initiatives will stand a greater chance of continuing through changes in ownership and management over time.

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