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Runways & greenways: Advancing nature-positive solutions at a major U.S. airport

18. April 2024

Solution provider


Ramboll is a leading international architecture, engineering, and consultancy company, owned by the Ramboll Foundation.

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Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) requested services from Ramboll to support implementation of its sustainability strategy, including advancing their biodiversity and nature positive ambition. As part of this effort, DFW required a biodiversity baseline assessment. Following the completion of this baseline, DFW sought innovative and efficient methods of planning and monitoring for biodiversity improvements. DFW needed to quantitatively demonstrate progress on biodiversity, measure its change over time, and compare that to its goals of cumulative biodiversity net gain.

This case presented a series of challenges that needed to be navigated to effectively monitor and enhance biodiversity at DFW. First, it was essential to ascertain the variety of habitats spread across the airport’s expansive property, including natural areas bordering the active airport zone.

This task was not just about identifying ecological areas but also understanding their sizes and connectivity within the 69 square kilometer property. The project required an effective technical approach for mapping and monitoring these diverse habitats using available remote sensing data. Another critical challenge lay in uncovering spatial patterns that could have implications for the airport’s management or planning activities.


Ramboll utilized desktop evaluations, remote sensing techniques, and field ground truthing to map and monitor biodiversity across 69 square kilometers. This effort included adopting the Natural England Biodiversity Metric 3.0 for standardizing biodiversity quantification and Biodiversity Net Gain assessment. By employing aerial imagery and LiDAR data, a detailed environmental mapping was conducted. Our work featured developing a comprehensive habitat classification schema, which supported a deep learning model for habitat classification over a large area.

This model, validated through onsite field assessment and ground truthing, integrates with ArcGIS to provide a Biodiversity Assessment Dashboard for visualizing habitat data. A key aspect of our methodology is the calculation of a Biodiversity Unit score based on habitat type, area, condition, distinctiveness, and strategic significance. This score, informed by the Natural England Biodiversity Metric, offers a quantitative measure of biodiversity that aids in monitoring changes and informing environmental management decisions.

This approach facilitated a detailed biodiversity baseline, crucial for ongoing monitoring and future environmental sustainability planning. Through this method, Ramboll delivered an innovative solution that combines high-tech analyses with practical applications for environmental conservation and planning.

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Biodiversity baseline pilot assesment

The DFW Biodiversity Assessment Dashboard displays findings from the habitat field survey and the remote sensing analysis. It also includes reference layers including land use and streams on the DFW site.

Video credits: Ramboll


This analysis facilitated the identification of priority areas for ecological uplift and preservation, ensuring targeted conservation efforts. Additionally, the consideration of these biodiversity findings into the airport’s tree management plan, augmented by data from a comprehensive tree survey, has refined and enhanced DFW’s environmental strategies.

This integration not only supports DFW in their sustainability objectives but also ensures a methodical approach to maintaining and enhancing the site’s ecological balance, creating value for DFW’s operational and environmental sustainability.