SMT GB head office wildflower meadow signals significant win for the local environment
Marking a considerable step forward for SMT GB’s ambitious set of environmental goals, the company’s head office has swapped its manicured lawns for wildflower meadows...
Situated in the South Cambridgeshire village of Duxford, SMT GB’s head office is somewhat unique for the company, in that it benefits from a considerable proportion of green space onsite.
Since opening its doors in 1984, the maintenance policy for these green spaces has been to maintain mown lawns. While this policy gave the site the clean and professional image expected at the time, it offered very little to the local environment.
“Ecologically, the site could best be described previously as a green desert”, comments SMT GB’s Environmental Manager Paul Burr. “When I first started in early 2019, I saw that the site was bursting with opportunities to benefit the local environment, and I was keen to get on with this as quickly as possible. However, in order to achieve the best possible results, I brought in a team of ecologists to identify what we already have onsite, and provide us with a five year plan to achieve measurable results in terms of both staff wellbeing and biodiversity net gain.
Prior to making any changes to the site, a soil survey was conducted that identified a clear benefit to allowing a certain proportion of the lawn to be allowed to grow wild. Additionally, the top layer of soil from another area of the site was removed and seeded with a blend of wildflower seeds that would especially suit the local soil. Paths were also cut between the new meadows, to allow staff to benefit from being in close proximity to the newly thriving extension to the local ecosystem. Bug hotels have also been installed around the site, including around the large concrete yard, ensuring that the entire site helps to support local wildlife.
Following the implementation of these simple changes, the benefit was not only apparent for local wildlife and pollinators, but also for staff, who have provided overwhelmingly positive feedback in response to the changes. The changing appearance of the flower meadows throughout the growing season provided a dynamic feature, and it is now clear that larger mammals have started to use the site as a result of their newly extended habitat.
The next stage of the plan is to improve the large pond found onsite, which is currently underutilised and home to a large group of Koi carp. While perfectly healthy, the Koi carp have a devastating ecological effect on the pond and are destined to be rehomed to allow for a richer variety of native species to thrive. This will help the pond to become a real biodiversity feature at the site, where staff can also enjoy interacting with the richness of life that it provides.
With big wins for the local environment already being achieved at the Duxford site, similar successes following this newly proven format can follow at SMT GB’s eight other sites based around England, Scotland and Wales. At the company’s Machine Preparation Centre in Immingham, Lincolnshire, staff have already started to create a dedicated area, and have built raised beds from broken pallets which have been seeded with plants that attract pollinators.
A biodiversity action group has been set up at SMT GB, and is attended by interested parties across all sites to discuss and implement new ideas to ensure the company continually does all it can to support local wildlife. This is only the first step the company is making towards providing ecological support to all forms of life in the local areas it operates in.