2023 Award Winner’s Spotlight: Member of the Year

Dr Julia Baker CEnv MCIEEM

This award was sponsored by:



Julia’s career, from her early days as a nature campaigner and conservationist, through to her research and consultancy experience, has been dedicated to protecting biodiversity and mainstreaming nature within policy and practice, especially with Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG). Now Nature Services lead with Mott MacDonald, Julia works with specialists to provide a consolidated nature service from advisory to practical solutions.

Julia’s passion and energy has undoubtedly made a significant difference to our industry and it is a commonly held view amongst her fellow practitioners that, without her, the Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) approach now becoming a major tool to protect and enhance biodiversity through the planning system would not be where it is today.

Julia pioneered BNG on infrastructure projects including pilots on Network Rail’s Thameslink Programme, East West Rail, and the Greater Western Electrification. Julia ran workshops to engage stakeholders in BNG, and shared lessons learnt to gain momentum for BNG more widely. This led her to propose and then develop the UK’s first Good Practice Principles on BNG.

Julia collaborated with government, statutory organisations, NGOs, professional institutes, consultancies and contractors to draft the Principles, to gather feedback, and revise the Principles for wider consultation before they were published in 2016 by CIEEM, CIRIA and IEMA. The Principles themselves set a benchmark of “what good looks like” for BNG and have become widely referenced, e.g. Defra’s Metric User Guide and several local authority Local Plans.

These Principles became the foundation for the “BNG: A Practical Guide”, coauthored with Tom Butterworth and Rachel Hoskins. This guide, published in 2019 by CIEEM, CIRIA and IEMA, helped to gain momentum for BNG ahead of the now fast-emerging biodiversity policies across the UK. The next step was to co-chair the committee working on the first British Standard on the process to design and implement BNG(BS8683), Julia worked with experts on drafting the Standard, addressing comments following consultation, finalising the Standard and hosting webinars to promote it. Julia won the British Standard Institute’s (BSI) 2021 Leadership Award for “exceptional communication skills and creativity in steering the development of this complex and, at times, controversial publication.

Julia’s work to mainstream BNG continues. She has co-led the development and delivery of CIEEM training courses on all aspects of BNG, delivered numerous webinars and is a member of Natural England’s Sounding Board for the Biodiversity Metric, helping to shape its design.

Julia is providing technical direction into new BNG guidance for the Treasury Green Book, on a project led by Oxford University. Given the wide-ranging application of the Green Book, this new guidance will greatly influence how BNG is accounted for within the appraisal of polices and projects.

Julia generously shares her knowledge with others. In addition to leading numerous training courses and webinars Julia also regularly delivers presentations at conferences and promotes interdisciplinary collaboration by presenting at events for non-ecologists.

In 2022 Julia was named on the ENDS Power List of the UK’s 100 most influential environmental professionals, in recognition of her work to embed BNG good practice within infrastructure development.

We will be posting further information on each of the 2023 Awards Winners over on our blog.