Biodiversity can be defined as the variety of life in the world or in a particular habitat or ecosystem. Often when people see our Exeter HQ they are impressed by the building itself. They are also impressed by the surrounding grounds which are more akin to a pleasant park.
At the Met Office Biodiversity is important to us. Every living thing has a place in what we call the 'balance of nature', and upsetting that balance can have untold effects. Protecting our native species and their habitats also improves our quality of life and ultimately, our standard of living.
Sometimes people think that setting an area aside for biodiversity will make it untidy and that the area is just left to its own devices. With a little assistance our Exeter HQ site, intended for biodiversity enhancement, has become very attractive to both wildlife and people alike.
When the Exeter site was constructed 0.75 acres was set aside and was designated as a wildflower area. By summer 2007 it had become clear that this area had failed to thrive, with few species of grasses, almost no wildflowers and even bare patches of soil still present. In addition, creeping thistle had severely infested the area, having not been tackled in previous years. Following agreement with Property Management, a group of volunteers set about work to improve the area through changes in management and planting of British native wildflower species.
In Summer 2008 volunteers set about clearing the creeping thistles. In 2010 a Biodiversity working group was formed. It consists of staff volunteers who liaise with Property Management to promote onsite sustainability.
The work of the volunteers during the Summer of 2008 consisted primarily of clearing the huge number of creeping thistle plants in the area. The next stage involved native wildflower seeds were grown by the volunteers within their own gardens for planting out during the Autumn and Winter. A wide range of native plants such as ox-eye daisy, meadow cranesbill, devil's bit scabious and common knapweed have been planted out in the meadow by the volunteers, and many are flowering well.
In 2010 a further 1.5 acres was added to the wildflower meadow and the entire Exeter site is under active active biodiversity management.
Large areas of the site are planted with native trees and shrubs and in July 2011 a number of beehives were installed.
As well as a wide range of flora on site we also have a healthy array of fauna. Common blue butterflies, meadow brown butterflies and marbled white butterflies have all been seen.
This prestigious award had been achieved by July 11.
Only a handful of companies have met this standard and we are the first public sector body to do so. This standard is very difficult to achieve and maintain.
The Wildlife Trust's Certified sites and organisations.
This award reflects our commitment to minimise our environmental impacts.
We are proud of our biodiversity efforts and these efforts are regularly recognised in external publications.
The environmentalist is regarded as the UK's foremost environmental magazine. Neal Pearce, our environmental advisor was interviewed by the magazine and the 3 page article (below) was published.
This article first appeared in the January 2012 issue of the environmentalist, the monthly publication of the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment.
One of our sustainability targets for FY 2011/12 was to implement a biodiversity scheme at a Met Office frontline site. Possible sites have been surveyed and are being considered.