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2020 / 2021 Edition

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SMT GB head office in full bloom

Wildflower meadow

Wildflower meadow signals significant win for local environment around company’s Duxford HQ

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, the Volvo CE dealer’s head office is somewhat unique for the company, in that it benefits from a considerable proportion of green space on site.

Since opening its doors in 1984, the maintenance policy for these green spaces had been to maintain mown lawns, and whilst 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,’ commented 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 on site and provide us with a five-year plan to achieve measurable results in terms of both staff well-being and biodiversity net gain.’

Prior to making any changes to the site, a soil survey was conducted that identified a clear benefit in 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, SMT GB say 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 provides a dynamic feature, and the company says 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 a large pond on the site, which is currently underutilized 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 true 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 are expected to 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 also 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.

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