Wildlife is good for business

Wednesday 3rd September 2014

Portbury Wharf Nature ReservePortbury Wharf Nature Reserve

Senior Executives from Bristol Water and Wessex Water are among a wide range of business leaders attending a major national conference today in London today to hear Sir David Attenborough and Deputy PM Nick Clegg speak about how making space for wildlife is good for business.

The “Conference for Nature” is organised by the State of Nature Partnership, a coalition of wildlife NGOs including RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife.

It follows on from the much publicised publication of the State of Nature report in May last year, and focuses on some of the innovative potential solutions to reversing the declines in species that at the same time can benefit businesses.

Bristol Water and Wessex Water are currently piloting a new and exciting project with Eunomia Research & Consulting, Avon Wildlife Trust and TLT Solicitors in a catchment in the West of England. The idea is to look at land-management interventions to improve water quality, mitigate flooding, and as a result, boost wildlife as an alternative to traditional water treatment processes, drainage infrastructure and flood engineering.

Patric Bulmer from Bristol Water said: “We have seen how the costs of dealing with the consequences of soil erosion have escalated in recent years. Instead of dealing with the symptoms of existing land management practices, it makes sense for us to explore how we can work with the grain of nature and address the underlying cause. If the compensation that land managers require to change practices is less than we currently spend in dealing with the problem, we will all be better off financially, all the while improving the quality of the natural environment.”

Bevis Watts, CEO of Avon Wildlife Trust stated; “Using and managing our natural assets better can not only reduce the costs of processing and treating water but will also be a huge boost for our wildlife and support its recovery.”

Ruth Barden of Wessex Water added: “As keen advocates of the catchment management approach, we are very happy to support this project, which holds the promise of providing a template for our future schemes which we hope to implement”.

If successful it is hoped that the project could be widely replicated. The scheme also received the backing of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership.