Environment planningSustainable area development

Biodiversity is the one of the most undervalued factors in our built-environment, and surroundings. Ecosystems with high biodiversity ie number of plants and animals in the area are more resilient, offer better protection to climate risks, and healthy living environments.

The challenging mega trend of urbanisation is deeply connected to biodiversity. Cities impact and depend on the environment. Project developers shape the urban environment, and use environmental impact assessment methods, but miss the novel way of estimating how much nature a city needs.

Urban green spaces make people feel better, be more productive, and help recover from illness faster. They help mitigate urban heat island effects making cities more resilient. The value of nature is paramount for the development of cities and important to include in decision making.

A practical example in Limburg, Belgium: in a densely populated province, a local NGO convinced policy makers in 2006 with an economic argument (job creation) to create Belgium’s first national park: Apart from protecting biodiversity, the ‘Hoge Kempen National Park’ created some 400 jobs and stimulated private investment in tourism in this historically de-industrialized region. Tourists appreciate the recovering nature in former coal mines for its particular landscape and biodiversity values. (TEEBcase by Schops 2011).

For the real estate sector, the happiness of people and value of properties take priority, and the assessment of the ecosystem services with respect to biodiversity can boost the bottom line. In addition, the alignment with national and EU policy will be satisfied, and last but not the least, the city becomes more resilient, sustainable leading to climate neutrality.