Inspiration and ideas for supporting biodiversity
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By Carolyn Wincer, 5th May 2021
In this article, Travelife for Accommodation provides some inspiration for how a business can do better with protecting biodiversity.
Biodiversity is about all of the ecosystems on our planet and the species that make them up. Protecting biodiversity centres around minimising activities that can disrupt these ecosystems or introducing new activities that can help them thrive. For some businesses that have a big impact on the environment, such as those that produce chemical waste or disrupt natural water flows, this can be a complex issue requiring expert consultation and plenty of resources. However, for many other businesses, no matter what sector you are in or how big you are, there are lots of things you can do to help ecosystems thrive, an essential part of operating responsibly. Here are some ideas that we have come across from conducting thousands of audits at hotels over the years, and we hope they will inspire you to take action in this critical area.
Get the basics right first
Before getting started on the fun part of being a business that supports biodiversity, you should make sure that you are meeting the basic requirements relating to water, waste, erosion and pollution. Firstly, make sure you understand and comply with all of the local, national and international legislation in this area. That includes things like having the right permits for any water you source, managing your waste properly and complying with any regulations around noise or light pollution, both of which can have a damaging impact on certain species.
Then take a look at your procurement by seeing if the products you buy might be harmful to biodiversity, even on the other side of the planet! You might need to do a bit of homework here to find out about biodiversity issues in your supply chain, but the easiest place to start is by looking for reputable certification labels that assure the purchaser that something was produced sustainably, for example, Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper.
Lastly, do a visual inspection of your premises and the area surrounding it. Look for problems that you might be contributing to such as litter or wastewater coming from your business along with noise and light pollution. Think about any past problems you have created such as disrupting natural water flows or encroaching on to natural habitats. Turn your findings into an action plan so that you can remedy these issues.
Be proactive about encouraging biodiversity
There are so many exciting things that businesses can do that we had a hard time deciding which ones to include. We have chosen some of our favourites and even if they don’t suit your operation, we hope they will provide some inspiration to come up with your own solutions.
Plant native vegetation
Do a bit of research about plants, trees and shrubs that are both native to your area and support local biodiversity. Make a plan to include more of these in your grounds and to remove any invasive species at the same time. Often staff at a local garden centre can help with this while larger businesses might want to invest in an expert contractor to help.
Create a biodiversity garden
Set aside an area at your premises that is dedicated to encouraging biodiversity and educating your staff and visitors about local biodiversity issues. Ideally your garden will support species that are at risk such as bees, butterflies or birds, all of which can help increase the amount of native flora in your area.
Contact local education providers
You may find that a nearby kindergarten, school or higher education facility might be interested in using your grounds to study biodiversity issues. For example, you could set aside an area of your grounds to grow wild so that you don’t interfere with nature, except perhaps to remove invasive flora. Some educators might find this interesting to show students. Or you could allocate an area where students can do planting and conduct studies.
Support local conservation initiatives
Look for ways to support initiatives to protect biodiversity in your location such as sponsoring a community garden or fundraising to protect a natural area. You could also look for areas your staff and customers immediately influence, such as sand dunes or a stream, then put up signage about how to protect the area and why you are concerned with conserving the location.
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