Article 4 May 2021

How to maximise your outdoor space

By Tim Howell, Managing Director Mitie Landscapes

An organisations approach to biodiversity is a visible statement of their approach to climate action.  While a well-kept lawn at the front of an office looks pristine, it actually has a very low level of biodiversity, but a space with wildflowers, bird boxes and trees can still look smart and inviting, as well as showing to staff and customers alike that the organisation is taking action to minimise their impact on the environment. In addition, incorporating the outdoor space into to your return-to-work strategy provides new space to collaborate, exercise, and support the wellbeing of your staff.

The 2020 UK Biodiversity indicators identify that since 1987 there has been a 30% decrease in pollinator species1 . However, 1 in 3 mouthfuls of food we eat rely on a pollinators, such as bees, to pollinate them. Further decline in invertebrate species could have lasting consequences on our food security.

To improve your organisations approach to biodiversity consider implementing the following schemes:

A lawn full of life

Reducing the frequency that lawns are cut provides an opportunity for plants and nature to grow and recover, suitable areas can be left uncut for much of the year. Planting trees provides further space for wildlife to flourish. Pathways can be created through meadows and larger spaces, and benches installed creating spaces for colleagues to meet, exercise and relax. In 2019 the average lawn was found to produce enough nectar to feed 1,088 bees per day2 . Lawns mowed once a month provide the most nectar and unmown grass provides a greater range of plants

Make use of the empty space

Particular species including Lavender, Hebe, Sedum, Red Valerium attract pollinator species. In combination with new hedgerows, mulch planters and other sustainable planters, space that is currently unloved can quickly be heaving with wildlife. Hedgerows support a vast array of wildlife. Different species live at different heights within the hedgerows, blackbird and chaffinches nest up high, while grey partridges use grass cover at the bottom of a hedge to nest and hedgehogs feed at the base of the hedge3 .

Create a green roof

Even the most intensively built-up city centres can still be havens for bees and other insects, by adding a professionally installed green roof using plants such as Sedum, Yarrow, and Thyme. A green roof can reduce your energy bill, help to counteract the heating effect of urban heat islands, and reduce air pollution. An urban heat islands (UHI) is an area that’s a lot warmer than the rural areas surrounding it, typically 1-3 degrees Celsius4 . UHI’s have worse air and water quality than rural areas.

Install a new home

Bird, bat and owl boxes, hedgehog houses, log piles, and wildlife walkways are just some of the solutions that can be incorporated into your facility. A hibernaculum made from tubes buried underground is an ideal home for toads, frogs and reptiles during cold winter months5.

Communicate and engage

Providing information and updates about the schemes and spaces you are developing will encourage staff to make more use of outdoor spaces. Signage identifying different species and bird box locations along a new pathway for example, will help staff to engage with nature. Evidence from Natural England shows the importance of nature to people’s health and wellbeing, with 85% of people surveyed saying that being in nature makes them happy6.

In Sept 2020, the UK government committed to protecting 30% of UK land by 2030 to support nature’s recovery. Mitie is dedicated to enhancing biodiversity, creating bespoke solutions for our customers. Contact our experts at planzero@mitie.com to find out more about how we can enhance the biodiversity across your facilities.

Join us in supporting #NoMowMay. We are encouraging our customers to reduce the frequency or stop mowing their lawns throughout the whole of May. Find out more here.

Sources

1
https://data.jncc.gov.uk/data/048f7e78-a2c6-4982-91c3-e496f063bf2b/UKBI-2020-A.pdf

2
https://www.plantlife.org.uk/everyflowercounts/2019-results/

3 https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/conservation/conservation-and sustainability/advice/conservation-land-management-advice/farm-hedges/the-value-of-hedgerows-for-wildlife/

4
https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/urban-heat-island/

5
https://www.rspb.org.uk/globalassets/downloads/kids–schools/teaching-resources/make-a-hibernaculum.pdf

6
https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/the-people-and-nature-survey-for-england-adult-data-y1q1-april-june-2020-experimental-statistics/the-people-and-nature-survey-for-england-adult-data-y1q1-april-june-2020-experimental-statistics

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