18/03/2011
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Industrial sites recognised as havens for birdlife

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Take a quarry, throw in a few islands and you have the perfect nesting habitat for Avocet. Left with a worked brickfield? Just add some marshes, sit back and wait for the Snipe. These are just two projects rewarded in the BTO's year-long challenge to find the best UK industrial and business sites for wildlife.

Throughout 2010, staff and volunteers from 57 business sites took part in the BTO-EDF Energy Business Bird Challenge, recording the birds using their sites. The Challenge also looked at the conservation initiatives carried out on sites and how staff and local communities were involved in managing and increasing the biodiversity on the landholdings.


Volunteers start work on habitat creation at Little Paxton Quarry (photo: Bardon Aggregates).


Norfolk Hawker habitat at Sizewell
(photo: EDF Energy).
Highlights included the creation of an island archipelago at Little Paxton Quarry (Barton Aggregates), the maintenance of habitat for the Norfolk Hawker dragonfly at Sizewell Power Station (right — British Energy/EDF Energy) and the provision of slow-worm habitat and marshes for Snipe at King's Dyke (Hanson Building Products). These projects won some of the coveted BTO Conservation awards.

Kate Aldridge, BTO Challenge Organiser, said: "The quality of the work being carried out at all of the sites entered in the Challenge has been outstanding. The work has ranged from landscape-scale lagoon creation, to rare habitat restoration, to the simple provision of nesting opportunities for a wide variety of birds. All of the winners should be proud of what they have achieved on their sites. Congratulations to all involved."

The conservation work and monitoring carried out on many of the competing sites is often the result of establishing partnerships with local wildlife organisations and members of the community. Groups of BTO bird ringers have been welcomed onto many sites and have provided the companies with important information on their breeding birds. In some cases, local Wildlife Trusts have been given responsibility for day-to-day management of sites, and advice and information have been sought from a multitude of other conservation charities.

Kate Aldridge added: "The most successful sites often had the most open and productive relationships with conservation group partners. The expertise that these groups can offer to business is immense and it is encouraging to see these relationships developing with the biodiversity on these sites. But behind it all is a growing commitment by the participating companies to conservation management on the land they look after."

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Christine Blythe, Biodiversity Manager for EDF Energy, said: "We have developed a strong partnership with the BTO Business Bird Challenge over many years and it is great to see this encouragement for sites to take on important conservation projects."


Volunteers clearing scrub at Lound Lakes (photo: Essex & Suffolk Water).

The Award Winners

The entries were divided into nine groups, reflecting the size and diversity of participating sites. These were judged under three categories: Conservation, Community and Bird Count. To see the winners, please visit the Challenge website or download the Business Bird Challenge Results Bulletin.

The total number of bird species seen on the participating sites was 266, of which 205 were seen using Rutland Water (Anglian Water) alone. This is a truly outstanding achievement and the result of a combination of the provision of a wide range of habitats, exceptional management and the presence of plenty of birders. However, the 78 species seen using the much smaller Dry Quarry, Forcett (Hanson Aggregates) is also an achievement to be proud of.

The Business Bird Challenge was launched in 1994 and is a unique partnership between businesses, the BTO and local communities which encourages biodiversity on business and industrial sites. Held every two years, the Challenge has become a celebration of environmental initiatives by businesses throughout the UK.

Written by: BTO