By the very nature of the services we provide as a green contractor, idverde UK carries out work in areas that are of value to wildlife. This will vary from informal green infrastructure in urban environments to formally ‘designated sites’ of nature conservation interest. Designated sites include Local Nature Reserves (LNRs), County Wildlife Sites (CWS), Sites of Biological Interest (SBIs), National Nature Reserves (NNRs), Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Ramsar sites.
Biodiversity is short for ‘biological diversity’ and is a measure of the variety of life forms in any given area. So in its simplest form, high biodiversity means lots of different plant and animal species in an area, whereas low biodiversity means only a few different plants and animals. An area of mown amenity grass with ‘lollipop’ trees will be relatively low in biodiversity, a rural hedge made up of several different native shrubs will support medium biodiversity, and ancient woodland will be very high in biodiversity.
Most of the people who choose to work for idverde UK have a natural interest in wildlife and green spaces, leading to a cultural bias towards wildlife conservation. We also have a Biodiversity and Ecology policy which all our staff are trained in upon induction to the company.
idverde UK employs a number of ecologists, and we carry out a wide range of both contracted and voluntary biodiversity services. In 2017 we formed an innovative new partnership with the RSPB, which saw a dedicated member of the RSPB team seconded to our Bromley contract to advise on matters of biodiversity and ecology and to help deliver the Council’s Parks, Greenspace and Countryside Strategy. Such was the success of the partnership in Bromley, that this arrangement was extended and an additional member of the RSPB seconded to idverde to support our contracts in the Midlands.
At the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, we are responsible for authoring, implementing and monitoring the Biodiversity Action Plan for the Park. At Bromley, we drafted the Bromley Biodiversity Action Plan, manage the Biodiversity Partnership, and actively manage 3 SSSIs, 6 LNRs and 93 SINCs. These are contractual requirements. However, at the other end of the spectrum, on a wholly voluntary basis, our Contract Supervisor at Stroud produces a monthly Biodiversity Newsletter, organises regular guided bird walks and moth evenings, and is actively involved in implementing the Biodiversity Action Plan for Stroud.
In the current economic climate, the input of volunteers is becoming increasingly important and the area of wildlife conservation often generates significant community participation. idverde UK works with conservation volunteers on most of its contracts, and on two contracts we are directly responsible for the recruitment, management and motivation of volunteers.
Our ISO 14001 systems require us to carry out annual ‘Environmental Impacts and Aspects Assessments’ which includes our impact on local biodiversity and climate change. So, as a minimum, we commit to the following on all of our contracts:
- During contract mobilisation, our local team establish the location of any sites of particular nature conservation interest, especially any designated sites, local nature reserves and areas with active conservation volunteers
- All idverde UK operatives receive mandatory biodiversity training from our Conservation Manager, Dr Catherine Norris. Through toolbox talks, our Managers ensure that all employees are aware of the locations of sensitive sites and their obligations under the Wildlife & Countryside Act (WLCA)
- We are proactive in suggesting more wildlife-friendly ways of working to our clients
- We are guided by our clients so that we are aware of areas of wildlife sensitivity or special projects across their estate
- As part of our Carbon Reduction Plan, we offer to fund a habitat creation scheme (usually involving the planting of native tree species) to mitigate our carbon emissions and increase local biodiversity.