What Is a Biological Diversity Heritage Site and How Do They Improve Ecological Security?

What Is a Biological Diversity Heritage Site and How Do They Improve Ecological Security?

July 3, 2023 0 By Sponsored Article

Biodiversity, or the variety of life that is present on Earth, plays a vital role in mankind’s success and the continuation of life on the planet. Biological heritage sites are a cornerstone in the protection of our natural environment, but why are they important? And how do they improve our ecological security? Before we can answer these questions, we need some background into biodiversity, the role it plays in our lives, and what measures are in place to protect our diversity. 

Why Is Biodiversity Important?

Biodiversity is essential for the wellbeing and health of the systems that support life on Earth. These systems, which include all the flora, fauna, and microbial life on the planet, provide us with the oxygen we take in to breathe and with the plants and animals we consume. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), a loss in biodiversity not only affects the animals, plants, and other organisms that live in a given area, but also has an impact on nature’s fundamental contributions to mankind, threatening economies, livelihoods, food security, cultural variety, and quality of life. It also poses a significant threat to world peace and security. Biodiversity loss also has a disproportionate impact on the most disadvantaged people, aggravating inequality.

Why Is Our Biodiversity at Risk?

According to research, biodiversity is being lost at up to 1000 times the natural rate, a crisis which scientists refer to as ‘Earth’s sixth mass extinction’. That is why we must make every effort to protect our natural resources, which include our deserts, rainforests, coral reefs, and other biologically diverse regions. On a global level, UNESCO is responsible for promoting mutual understanding and respect for our world through education, science, culture, communication, and information sharing. In keeping with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15, which centres on maintaining ecosystem resilience and safeguarding our planet’s biodiversity for future generations, UNESCO promotes the designation and management of protected areas, a practice which is supported by various other global treaties and action plans. In the UK, these areas are known as Biological Diversity Heritage Sites (BHS). what is a biological diversity heritage sites

What Is a Biological Diversity Heritage Site?

Areas that contain ecologically fragile ecosystems or contain a huge amount of biodiversity are called Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS). These areas are unique due to their diversity and biological value. Areas that qualify as BHS include regions that are home to rare, endemic, or threatened species, as well as keystone species which are vital for the sustainability of the habitat. They also include areas that contain species of evolutionary significance, such as the wild ancestors of cultivated or domestic species. Because of the importance of biological diversity, the UK government has implemented new legislation that is due to become a mandatory consideration for all development projects in the country called Biodiversity Net Gain to protect the UK’s natural heritage. 

What Is Biodiversity Net Gain?

Biodiversity net gain (BNG) is a term that describes how the condition of biodiversity in a region can be improved after land development initiatives are completed. Before any development can be signed off to begin, a BNG consultant must first ensure that the land being used is preserved as much as possible and that all measures are taken to avoid biodiversity loss and habitat destruction. As some loss is inevitable, BNG also calls for measures to be taken to increase the overall state of biodiversity on the land by 10% through the enhancement of the existing habitat. When it comes time to choose a BNG specialist company, developers must ensure that the company they select has a thorough understanding of the legislation involved and can provide accurate plans and reports. Some experts in biodiversity net gain offer a Planning Acceptance Guarantee so that developers can be sure of a speedy application process. 

What If a Proposed Site Contains Protected Species?

Should a BNG report indicate that there is a protected species on the site, a British standard licensed ecologist would need to be consulted for a full protected species survey to gain a fuller understanding of the species, their habitat, and how the development may affect them. If the completed survey indicates that the species would be under threat due to the development, the ecologist must then develop mitigation strategies to allow the development to proceed despite the presence of protected species, such as changing the planned project or transferring animals or plants inside or outside of the site. Following that, a report summarising the evaluation and the ecologist’s recommendations will be generated, providing the local planning authority with everything they need to grant a planning application.

What Are Some of the Common Species That Fall Under the Protected Species List?

According to government guidelines, all European protected species are fully protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2019. This means that any development proposals that affect bats, badgers, great crested newts, hazel or common dormice, water voles, otters, wild birds, reptiles, white-clawed crayfish, freshwater pearl mussels, invertebrates, fish, or protected plants, lichen, and fungi require a protected species survey to be undertaken.  

What If a Site Is Declared a BHS?

If a site is declared a BHS, it will be published in a national habitat registry that is fully accessible to the public and any intentional habitat degradation before applying for planning clearance will be prohibited.

How Do BHS’ Impact Our Ecological Security?

Ecological security, or the protection of our ecology for the sustainability of both the naturalhydrogen news ebook environment and the society reliant upon it, is imperative if mankind is to survive and thrive. Biological heritage sites are just one of the measures that have been put into place to combat the wanton destruction of natural habitats, and they have shown to be effective in combating biodiversity loss, particularly in areas of cultural or economic significance, and also contribute towards sustainable development. 

Protecting our planet’s resources is vital for our sustainable growth into the future. The combination of fully protected sites and the rules outlined by the BNG legislation should help to protect existing sites as well as areas of land that are currently undeveloped from habitat destruction by halting developments that are ambivalent or harmful towards it, protecting the country’s biodiversity and our future prosperity. 

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