As we have committed to in our latest Environmental Policy, Vp’s aim is to do no harm to the natural world. We diligently continue to seek to reduce our environmental footprint wherever possible, as detailed in our Sustainability Report. As we drive forward with our sustainability plans, our business will inevitably still create some waste and pollution albeit at a reduced level. Vp will therefore continue to invest in nature conservation projects to address this imbalance.
Project prioritisation criteria include the maximisation of long-term impact, opportunities for employee involvement and the improvement of at least two ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration or pollination services. Moreover, through project selection, we seek to reflect the diversity of UK ecosystems and showcase high impact interventions addressing climate change and biodiversity loss.
In 2021, Vp supported three outstanding nature conservation projects. Information on our completed project with the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust can be found here and details of the ongoing projects with the Yorkshire Peat Partnership and Fauna & Flora International can be found below.
Increasing our national coverage, Vp have begun funding five new projects in Kent, Dorset, Lancashire, Worcestershire and South Wales. As always, each of the seven projects will have numerous opportunities to get involved and volunteer throughout the year for local staff and please reach out to Fred Pilkington, Vp’s Sustainability Programme Manager, to register your interest.
Additionally, to broaden our support for nature conservation and restoration around the UK, Vp are proud to announce that we have become The Wildlife Trusts rental equipment supplier of choice which is the perfect place for us to showcase our green and zero emissions range!
Update on Conservation Projects in 2022
On many UK rivers, fish migration is frequently hindered by weirs, locks, dams and other obstacles. The River Stour, a tributary of the Severn, running through Kidderminster is no exception. Vp are supporting the installation of a fish passage improve migration for species including the Critically Endangered European Eel and European sturgeon – both at a higher risk of going extinct than the Black Rhino.
Sand dune is an increasingly rare habitat in the UK. Dunes are important for a range of wildlife which cannot live anywhere else. Dunes are also vitally important as natural flood defences – something we will only need more of in years to come. Lancashire Wildlife Trust have been worked on the Fylde Sand Dunes for over a decade, helping expand and maintain them to maximise their benefits to society and wildlife.
In 2021, Dorset Wildlife Trust, acquired 170ha of farmland, near Bere Regis. Why? To transition intensively managed, polluting farmland to net positive for the local community, biodiversity and climate. It is England’s first community rewilding project.
July 2022 saw the Kent Wildlife Trust release a family of Bison into West Blean and Thornden Woods. Bison – last seen in the UK 2,000 years ago – are Europe’s largest mammal and threatened with extinction. They have been reintroduced because they are ‘ecosystem engineers’ which means they will add complexity and restore life to the woodland through their natural grazing behaviours.
Wales is the only country in the UK where White-tailed eagles have not yet made a comeback. This apex predator has the largest wingspan of any eagle globally and are Europe’s largest bird of prey. With our support, Gwent Wildlife Trust, Durrell and Eagle Reintroduction Wales are mapping areas of suitable habitat, nest sites and prey availability as well as identifying environmental risks and building relationships with local communities. All this work has the goal in mind of reintroductions in 2023. Stay tuned!
Peatlands store 4 times more carbon per unit area than any other terrestrial system. When peat is degraded it becomes an emitter of carbon rather than a sink and 4 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from such peatlands. Effective techniques to re-establish bog vegetation on areas of bare peat on elevated, wind-blown slopes are unknown to researchers worldwide but the Yorkshire Peat Partnership has begun to solve this with funding from Vp and Innovate UK. It is the hope that this experimental restoration will find a solution to restore highly degraded peatland in Yorkshire and further afield in Tibet, Spain and the Falklands. This will help combat flooding, improve water quality, and conserve habitats as well as restore a crucial carbon sink.
Since 2014, Fauna and Flora International (FFI) have been working with coastal communities around Scotland to reverse the precipitous decline of fish catches and the associated loss of iconic animals and vital habitats such as basking sharks and seagrass meadows. FFI’s support has led to the creation of a Coastal Communities Network, with 18 members currently, which has enabled communities to realise their vision of healthier seas. Examples of this include the creation of the Lamlash marine protected area, seagrass meadow restoration and the exclusion of scallop dredging within protected areas. Funding from Vp via FFI is enabling the Coastal Communities Network to increase its support for direct marine protection and restoration of Scotland’s coastline, catalyse new opportunities and have a larger voice in the political arena.