What does this practically look like? The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, said to house more than 10% of the planet’s biodiversity. Our team in Brazil is involved in several efforts to safeguard its biodiversity, from financial needs assessments to climate change studies, and species protection projects. Using impact and dependency assessments and studies like these, field experts can consider nature positive approaches in the planning stage, well before construction takes place, and also throughout all stages of the project lifecycle.
And, in the Netherlands, we’ve helped bring life back to the Lake Markermeer. The Afsluit and Houtrib Dikes here provide flood protection to millions of people. But they have also had unintended negative consequences for its two lakes - Lake IJssel and Lake Markermeer – creating a hostile environment for fish, birds and other living creatures. Working with experts from Boskalis, Wtteveen+Bos and Vista, we helped create an archipelago of new islands, built completely using sand, silt and clay taken from the lake. These islands, called the Marker Wadden Islands, now serve as a nature reserve, where vegetation can grow, fish can spawn and birds and wildlife can flourish.
2. Building with, not against nature
The construction industry accounts for 39% of the world’s energy and process-related carbon dioxide emissions3. Historically, buildings have been developed with consideration given to their subsequent impact on the surrounding environment and biodiversity.
But now, we need to take this a step further. As well as considering nature-based solutions from the very outset, actually building with - and not against - nature is a concept that ensures the natural environment is a critical factor supporting the development of, for instance, flood defences, buildings and even transportation solutions.
In the UK, for example, we have been working on High Speed Two (HS2), the largest infrastructure project in Europe, to help minimize carbon emissions as the new railway line is built. Our design interventions mean that forecast carbon emissions have been reduced by over 40%. Not only that, we are also looking at how we can maximize biodiversity along the route. Design improvements predict a 3.7% gain in area-based habitats and a 22.5% gain in linear habitats along the 80km section between London and Birmingham.