Integrate, don’t offset – Biodiversity net gain from the ground up

Philip Hammond announced in last month’s Spring Statement that the forthcoming Environmental Bill will “mandate biodiversity net gain for development in England… ensuring that the delivery of much needed infrastructure and housing is not at the expense of vital biodiversity.”

Following this, a recent CIEEM conference put biodiversity net gain at the top of the agenda. In attendance were BMD biodiversity experts Helen Miller and James Patmore. Here, they comment on the legislative changes and what developers stand to gain moving forward:

Helen Miller, Ecology Technical Director at BMD, commented:

“Biodiversity net gain has always been at the heart of our work!

“The Spring Statement is the welcome culmination of a shifting mind-set at Government level over the past few years. It builds on the work of recently updated National Planning Policy Framework and the 25-year Environmental Plan in recognising and honouring the economic and social benefits of a biodiverse environment. Yet, it doesn’t just stop at environmental benefits, with the CIEEM conference highlighting that biodiversity net gain at planning stages is likely to translate into long-term commercial benefits from natural capital assets down the line. ”

“BMD’s own experience shows that to maximise the potential of this natural capital, collaboration is key: not only must the wider development team be on board from the start, but all disciplines, from ecologists to engineers, master planners to architects, land managers to landscape architects, must work together to preserve and boost environmental assets.”

James Patmore, Director of Ecology at BMD, added:

“Last month’s well-attended CIEEM conference ‘Biodiversity Net Gain From Policy to Practice: A Transformative Tool for Tackling Biodiversity Loss?’ covered a wide range of issues relevant to biodiversity net gain, including using habitat as a measure and the potential shortfalls of the metric approach.”

“Although biodiversity net gain will always face these challenges, its inclusion in the Spring Statement should inspire developers to consider habitat and species requirements in initial design planning – integrating biodiversity into plans from the outset and engaging with ecologists earlier on in the process.”

“New legislation will make effective biodiversity strategy a commercial necessity for businesses, rather than just a nice to have. As a result, Hammond’s statement is an encouraging step towards putting the environment at the centre of property decision-making.”

Meet BMD’s latest graduate landscape architect, Vestina Cizevskaja

Hi Vestina.  Congratulations on graduating and welcome to BMD.  Can you start by telling everyone about yourself including how you got into landscape architecture as a profession and how you came to join the team here at BMD?

I was really interested in art from an early age and by choosing landscape architecture as a profession I knew it would allow me to combine my passion for art with my passion for the environment.  I love the idea of having such a positive, long-lasting impact on people and nature through the landscapes I design.

When I was researching potential practices where I’d like to work, it was really important to find somewhere that shared the same values as me. As well as creating fascinating public spaces for people to enjoy, BMD enhances our fragile ecology and genuinely care about the impact a development has on its environment.  I’m pleased to say I’ve definitely made the right choice!

What do you enjoy most about landscape architecture as a profession?

Landscape architecture is such a broad profession which opens up so many different career paths and opportunities. Personally, I’m drawn to more sustainable and ecological designs – only because I know how much they really benefit the environment.

But landscape architecture isn’t just restricted to that. You can specialise in lots of things such as biophilic design, urban design, resorts, hydrological aspects, plantation and much more.

Vestine joins BMD

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on so far at BMD?

Radio Station, Rugby is by far the most influential project I’ve worked on at BMD. It’s a great example of how people and nature can mutually benefit at the same time. For example, the orchard and nut trees within the design attract and enhance the wildlife whilst also encouraging people to come together to get a nutritional value from nature. It’s the perfect balance between humans and animals. 

What do you find most challenging about the role? 

I found a few things challenging at first, especially getting to grips with all the different software such as Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop and AutoCAD. Although working within such a supportive team as BMD, switching between different software has quickly become one of my biggest strengths. I’ve learned and developed so many new software skills which I’m getting to apply on live projects on a daily basis.

Vestine joins BMD

What would you say to someone considering a career in landscape architecture?

Landscape architecture is definitely a growing career path.  With all the emphasis on climate change in the news now, it’s becoming more and more important in everyday life.

If you genuinely want to help and improve our health, our air quality, current habitat, express your creativity or generally make a positive impact on our surrounding environment, then landscape architecture is definitely the right career path for you.

If you could spend the day in any landscape around the world, where would it be?

There’re so many landscapes that I love.  It’s really hard to pick just one so I’d have to say anywhere with lots of trees. They have an enormous value to our wellbeing, flood management and also provide a habitat for 80% of the world’s animal species!

BMD is proud to support the Landscape Institute’s #chooselandscape campaign aimed at attracting fresh talent into the landscape architecture industry.  You can find out more about the initiative on their dedicated website:

We’re always looking for talented landscape architects and ecologists to join the BMD team.  So, whether you’re a graduate or senior practitioner, we’d love to hear from you.  To apply, simply send a cover letter & copy of your CV to: