Biodiversity Net Gain Regulations and UK Hospitality

By Kunal Sawhney, CEO of Kalkine (www.kalkine.co.uk)

The government has recently launched a consultation on Biodiversity Net Gain regulations and implementation. The consultation of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is aimed to know how biodiversity net gain (BNG) will work in practice. The consultation will create the framework of how BNG will be applied to Town and Country Planning Act development and going forward it can also be used at the higher levels to guide bigger infrastructure projects on a national level.

Biodiversity, the measure of variation at the genetic, species, and ecosystem levels, gained importance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It became evident that the loss of biodiversity globally was a major reason for the massive spread of the virus. It’s the delicate balance of biodiversity that helps in regulating the climate and many of our basic requirements like food, fresh water, and other materials.

Hotels impact biodiversity at every level of their lifecycle
If we talk about hospitality, hotels are the ones that are said to be impacting biodiversity at different stages of their lifecycles, right from planning and operations to closure. The restaurant food that we eat, and the cosmetics used in the spa, all are related to biodiversity, and hence it becomes crucial that whatever choices we make, size, location, and resources used for the hotel, as well as the energy and water usage, to be in adherence of the biodiversity.

Hotels can adopt different measures to halt biodiversity loss. They can look for sustainable purchasing of food, use organic cosmetics and furniture that are in sync with biodiversity requirements, and above all can act responsibly in reducing, treating, and disposing of waste. Hotels that are located in natural settings can support biodiversity while working with local projects.

Organic farming minimizes the use of artificial pesticides and fertilizers; hence use of organic foods from sustainable and local farmers can help in preserving biodiversity. Similarly, the use of plant-based quality cosmetic products that have been harvested sustainably can be used in the spas, and using wooden furniture that is from a sustainable source and can be recycled would be of great help to protect biodiversity. Not only this, but hotel operators can also act responsibly by offering their patrons the option of sustainable tourism.

Hospitality should not be the specific target
It is very clear that human activity is having an increasingly negative impact on the planet due to practices like excessive land use, deforestation, overfishing, and pollution, leading to biodiversity loss, which in turn is a huge risk to humanity.

As momentum is growing and awareness increasing to pause and reverse biodiversity loss. Businesses are being made accountable for improving how they measure and report on biodiversity. Saying all these, it is also important to point here that hospitality should not be targeted in the name of biodiversity conservation regulations.

The sector, like many others, has already set its net-zero targets and is working carefully to achieve it as well, but at a time when the pandemic ravaged industry is still struggling for its survival, putting regulations that are hard and expensive can derail the recovery momentum of hospitality. Rather, the government should come forward to support the industry, not only financially but also by making the biodiversity procedures simple. Climate change is a big concern, and hospitality is fully aware of its role to play. The industry participants are already prioritizing biodiversity protection, and hence there should not be forced measures for adherence to regulations.