The Convention on Biological Diversity, signed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992, requires Parties to develop national strategies and to undertake a range of actions aimed at maintaining or restoring biodiversity. The UK Biodiversity Strategy was produced in response to the Convention.
Individual Species Action Plans (SAPs) have been developed to address the causes of decline for those species that have been identified as priorities for UK conservation action. Country-level lists contain species considered of national importance in biodiversity strategies. Local Biodiversity Action Plans (LBAPs) have been produced for additional species of local importance.
In England and Wales, the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act, 2006 imposes a duty on all public bodies, including local authorities and statutory bodies, in exercising their functions, "to have due regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity" [Section 40 (1)]. It notes that "conserving biodiversity includes restoring or enhancing a population or habitat" [Section 40 (3)].
In discharging their duties under NERC, local planning authorities are increasingly asking for biodiversity assessments of sites as part of the planning application validation process. Acknowledging this Greenwillows Associates incorporates screening for BAP species and habitats as part of the Extended Phase 1 Habitat Assessment Process.