Introduction to the new standard on biodiversity (BS 8583)

Blog Post by Karen Wallis 27 July 2015

What is the new standard on biodiversity BS 8583:2015 all about?

Biodiversity: a word that’s been in the news a lot recently. What does it mean though and what does it have to do with your business?

Let’s get the terminology bit out of the way first. Biodiversity refers to the variety of living things (plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, etc.) found in an ecosystem and the variation in their genetic makeup. Biodiversity can be used to measure the health of an ecosystem. Healthy ecosystems have greater variety and variation in life than unhealthy ones (Joint Nature Conservation Committee). Ecosystems can be as basic as your garden pond or as complex as the Amazon Rainforest.

We as individuals and businesses rely on biodiversity to provide us with everything we need – food, clothing, shelter, natural resources, etc.  Unfortunately, biodiversity loss is becoming a real concern; we’re losing species at a vast rate for a number of reasons, most of which are a result of our activities - destruction of natural habitats for roads and house building, pollution, climate change and introduction of non-native species, to name but a few.

Ok, so there’s a problem, but what does any of this have to do with your business?

Well, did you know that the UK is committed to halting overall loss of biodiversity by 2020, in line with the European Biodiversity Strategy and UN Aichi targets? This means there’s going to be a growing need for businesses to report their biodiversity impacts and how they’re responding to / addressing those impacts.

Until now, there’s been no guidance on how to address biodiversity in any of the formal management systems standards already available on sustainable development, social responsibility (ISO 26000), or environmental management (ISO 14001). The British Standards Institute (BSI) has produced a new standard – BS 8583 – to provide guidance on biodiversity issues for different types of organisations.

This new standard aims to help businesses incorporate biodiversity considerations into their day-to-day management systems in a way that helps them to protect and enhance biodiversity through their regular operations.

The standard:

  • explains what biodiversity is and why it is relevant to businesses and other organisations;
  • describes how to assess your biodiversity impact;
  • explores ways to manage biodiversity, for example through supply-chain and land management;
  • gives advice on planning for biodiversity protection and enhancement; 
  • describes a four-step process to enable immediate improvements in biodiversity; and
  • provides examples of biodiversity opportunities and risks, in the context of global, national and local targets for biodiversity, and UK policies and initiatives.

Ultimately the more a business aligns itself with a sound biodiversity strategy, the more cost-effective it will be for its operations both long and short term.

Does this sound like something you want to look at in your own business? Maybe you already have an ISO 14001 or ISO 26000-certified management system in place and want to go further? Then this new standard should be of interest to you - get your copy from the BSI.


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