Kristin Halpin

May 6, 2024

Americas Biodiversity Metric
Changes in land use and land management are key drivers of biodiversity loss at global, national, and local scales. Conducting biodiversity assessments and documenting biodiversity risks and opportunities at a single location or across a corporate portfolio is complex, but critical for reducing impacts to ecosystems and ensuring sustainable land use, development, and restoration projects.
Closing the data gap
With the Americas Biodiversity Metric 1.0, Ramboll’s experts, with support from NatureServe, have developed a tool for evaluating biodiversity value that can be used to inform and enhance decision-making processes for land use planning, design, development siting, and land management. It can also help organisations, businesses, governments, and other land managers quantify and reduce impacts and deliver on no net loss or net gain in biodiversity targets on their land.
This first release of the metric focuses on habitats in the Northeastern US including New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, with the anticipated release later this year of the remaining US and Canadian habitats, as derived from the International Vegetation Classification (IVC), US National Vegetation Classification (USNVC), and Canadian National Vegetation Classification (CNVC) systems. The metric is underpinned by select Ecological Integrity Assessment (EIA) criteria developed by NatureServe, a leading non-profit organization focused on biodiversity in North America.
Assigning biodiversity value to habitats
The metric is adapted from the UK’s Natural England's Biodiversity Metric 4.0, developed over more than a decade, incorporating extensive research and stakeholder engagement, and which has today become the basis for the UK's mandatory biodiversity net gain requirements.
Central to the metric is the understanding that larger and higher quality habitats can better support the range of species typically associated with a given habitat and thereby are of greater value to biodiversity. The metric evaluates biodiversity value using the product of four main criteria:
  • Habitat size
  • Habitat condition
  • Global conservation priority
  • Local relevance for biodiversity
The metric generates a score expressed in biodiversity units which are used as a proxy for quantifying the biodiversity value of habitats. The metric can then be used to evaluate baseline biodiversity value, consistently track habitat changes over time, analyse scenarios, and support decision-making processes in alignment with the mitigation hierarchy.
Over 500 habitat types are included in the metric. These habitats are home to approximately 85,000 species, 14,000 of which are rare, threatened, or endangered.
The metric can be used for:
  1. Evaluating biodiversity value within a site or defined area
  2. Screening biodiversity value among multiple sites as part of the site selection process
  3. Comparing biodiversity value across different land use designs
  4. Comparing biodiversity value before and after development and restoration
  5. Transparently measuring and disclosing no net loss or biodiversity net gain claims, in alignment with global reporting frameworks and policies
“Ramboll’s Americas Biodiversity Metric is the first of its kind in the US and a crucial tool to support nature-positive action,” says Dan Rockefeller, a Senior Project Scientist for Biodiversity and Ecosystems at Ramboll and a developer of the metric. “By effectively measuring biodiversity value and tracking changes over time, the metric ensures a consistent and systematic approach to evaluating and monitoring biodiversity impacts and improvements across geographies.”
Visit the Americas Biodiversity Metric 1.0 to explore more.

Want to know more?

  • Dan Rockefeller

    Senior Project Scientist, Biodiversity and Ecosystems

    +1 315-400-5898

    Dan Rockefeller
  • Sara Copp Franz

    Managing Consultant, Biodiversity and Ecosystems

    +1 303-382-5486

    Sara Copp Franz
  • Rodolfo Jaffe PhD

    Managing Consultant

    +1 206-336-1655

    Rodolfo Jaffe PhD