Climate change and why it matters
Do the changes happening with the climate concern you? I graduated in 2022 from the University of Liverpool with a degree in Zoology, and during that time my understanding of how the climate was changing, and consequently the affect this has on the environment, encouraged me to embark on a career in this sector. Joining CSX has provided me with the opportunity to explore and learn about topics and techniques relating to this, that I had no prior knowledge of.
What is Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)?
At CSX my role is an environmental data analyst focusing on biodiversity. The biodiversity workstream primarily relates to the upcoming Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) policy, but also accounts for the many other aspects of biodiversity. BNG, which comes into effect in November 2023, aims to leave the environment in a better state than before. It requires for a property development to produce and maintain a 10% biodiversity net gain either on the same site or off-site. Within the UK Government Defra’s Biodiversity 3.1 metric, the tool used to calculate biodiversity, habitat is used as a proxy.
CSX’s role in Biodiversity Net Gain
We aim to deliver a platform where landowners can diversify their income by creating or restoring habitats. The purpose is to use remote sensing techniques to efficiently and non-invasively create audit trails to demonstrate an uplift in biodiversity and prevent greenwashing. Remote sensing and earth observation are new concepts to me and are subjects I have learnt at CSX.
Applying remote sensing and earth observation techniques to Biodiversity Net Gain
The biodiversity workstream is a constantly evolving one; we’re continually exploring and adopting the most efficient and accurate techniques so that individuals can monitor their BNG sites with ease.
Currently, a combination of satellite and RGB drone imagery are used; the satellite produces an image that doesn’t require any need to leave the comfort of your house, however, there is a limit of resolution. The RGB (Red, Green, Blue) drone image offers a higher resolution to identify and segment broad habitat type that is more time efficient and less invasive than a ground survey.
For example, the free to access satellite imagery has a resolution (how big each pixel is) of 10m, whilst with a drone survey we can easily achieve resolutions of 1cm and less. Satellite data with resolutions of 2m – 3m is now becoming available, at quite high costs per image though.
A combination of drones and satellite imagery means that ongoing monitoring can be done as often as needed. This is far less time consuming and provides images to map the progress of BNG sites.
Future work with Biodiversity Net Gain
In the future, CSX aim for users of our platform to map and provide evidence of the BNG project with efficiency. The platform will provide landowners the knowledge of the biodiversity they have between various sites, and offer relevant developers who need to purchase biodiversity credits an audit trail of these changes.
In addition to this, we are investigating a range of other remote sensing techniques, for example IoT sensors and eDNA, to gather large amounts of data to depict an accurate image that accounts for multiple components of biodiversity.
We are exploring all of this and so much more at CSX, within the biodiversity workstream we aim to go beyond the standard DEFRA metric from the UK Government. Biodiversity is complex and multi-layered, and the methodology that quantifies it should be too.
Abby Robinson, CSX Carbon October 2022