What is Biodiversity?

In response to the biodiversity crisis, and the critical relationship between climate change and biodiversity loss, The Council for Sustainable Business has established a new goal for business to deliver a biodiversity net gain by 2030.

We are delighted to have businesses committing to a biodiversity net gain. We have heard from many others that are considering it, and have requested more information. We are aware that great deal of work needs to be done to establish an understanding of the definitions; urgency; business impacts and dependencies; case histories and metrics that have been created over many years for carbon.

We will work with DEFRA, partners and NGO’s experts to develop this, but the need for action is now, and so we have created some initial information below.

Biodiversity is the shortened form of two words "biological" and "diversity". It refers to all the variety of life that can be found on Earth (plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms) as well as to the communities that they form and the habitats in which they live. Each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life. Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive: food, clean water, medicine, and shelter.

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Waterfall

WHY IS BIODIVERSITY LOSS SO CONCERNING?

From the IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are our common heritage and humanity’s most important life-supporting ‘safety net’. But our safety net is stretched almost to breaking point. IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.” The rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely.

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THE LINK BETWEEN BIODIVERSITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE

‘Biodiversity and climate change are two sides of the same coin, we can’t solve one without the other’. Tony Juniper, Natural England

Read more about nature based carbon solutions

WHAT IMPACTS MIGHT MY BUSINESS HAVE ON BIODIVERSITY?

Whether you own land; or are in construction; you source soy, palm oil, cocoa, timber, pulp, paper, rubber, leather, plastic, beef or fish from your supply chain; if you lend to or invest in businesses that do; produce waste or you are a service business with a canteen serving food, your business could inadvertently be contributing to the destruction of nature and wildlife here and abroad

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WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?

The Council for Sustainable Business has created a sliding scale of commitments for business around biodiversity. They are based on the principle of understanding your direct and indirect (supply chain) impacts, and setting targets for reducing them, before supporting biodiversity restoration programs to deliver a biodiversity net gain.

Other biodiversity commitments that businesses are making:

  • Keeping land use flat by 2030 (help retain habitat for biodiversity)
  • Reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides
  • Eliminate deforestation within your supply chain by 2030
  • Commit to supporting the UK’s Nature Recovery Network. Page 56, Chapter 2
  • If you provide food to staff then; increase the proportion of plant based foods (which reduces the need for agricultural land, pesticides, fertilisers and water) and offer better quality meat from organic or low intensity systems; meat fed on pasture and home grown feed (no imported soy)

HOW CAN I MEASURE MY IMPACTS?

There is as yet, no single universally accepted metric for measuring biodiversity, and finding one is a far tougher challenge than recording tonnes of carbon. There are however a variety of ways that you can measure your impacts: