Enabling Biodiversity Inclusive Design

In the day and age of the biodiversity emergency, architects, landscape architects, urban designers and even engineers are looking for answers to the question How do we design for biodiversity?”.

The ‘Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework’ specifically calls for the rise of biodiversity inclusive urban areas (See Target 12, Convention on Biological Diversity 2022). Biodiversity Inclusive Design (BID) is an approach to planning and design that seeks to foster functional ecological systems, enable species’ persistence within the built environment and (re) connect people with nature (Hernandez-Santin, Amati et al. 2023).

Within a few years, researchers, forward thinking designers and voluntary certification programs have delivered a multitude of frameworks that can support designer’ quest towards biodiversity positivity. But with many frameworks all around, the question becomes… “Which one should we use?”

We, at the ICON Science Research Hub, recommend Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design, a framework created by our research group. But we also acknowledge that there are other frameworks worth of notice and decided to take a closer look at each of them to explore the similarities, differences, and synergies between number of academic and industry-led frameworks.

In our recent publication we systematically analysed 15 different design frameworks aligned with Biodiversity Inclusive Design practices (Hernandez-Santin, Amati et al. 2022). These frameworks supply a series of principles and a structured design process that built environment professionals can follow to integrate biodiversity’s perspectives into design thinking processes.

Often, these frameworks are only applicable for specific circumstances. For example, the ‘Start with the Grasslands‘ offers strategies to show care for this underappreciated ecosystems. It also offers valuable lessons for other undervalued ecosystems through the integration of ‘cues of care’. Other frameworks are specifically associated to certification schemes such as the Living Building Challenge ‘Ecology of Place’, the Building with Nature and the Nature credits being developed by Green Building Councils around the world.

Our paper formalises Biodiversity Inclusive Design as a practice. We found three core dimensions of design action, nine principles and 27 ‘factors’ to consider.

Caption: Dimensions of action, design principles and factors considered in biodiversity inclusive design. In the middle is the overarching aim of BID as a design approach. Directly surrounding the aim, the inner circle shows three core dimensions of biodiversity inclusive design. The outer circle shows its nine design principles and the factors for consideration in biodiversity inclusive design are found between both circles.

Beyond this synthesis of biodiversity inclusive design, we discuss the synergies between different frameworks. It is not necessary to choose a single framework but to find those that are best suited for the project at hand. Having clarity over the strengths and functions of the different frameworks can help designers navigate the available options and choose the most suited for their individual projects.

Read our full paper for more information! It is open access.


Convention on Biological Diversity (2022). Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: Draft recommendation submitted by the Co-Chairs. Open-ended working group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Hernandez-Santin, C., M. Amati, S. Bekessy and C. Desha (2022). “A Review of Existing Ecological Design Frameworks Enabling Biodiversity Inclusive Design.” Urban Science 6(4): 95.

Hernandez-Santin, C., M. Amati, S. Bekessy and C. Desha (2023). “Integrating biodiversity as a non-human stakeholder within urban development.” Landscape and Urban Planning 232: 104678.

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