Havant crematorium’s wildlife initiative hailed a success

Five years after it first opened, a Havant crematorium’s mission to protect and enhance its environment has been hailed a success.

Since it opened on 12 December 2013, Southern Co-op has been working with Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to ensure The Oaks makes a positive difference to the local environment.

The grounds include ancient semi-natural woodland, designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, a natural pond and a wildflower meadow with active beehives and bird boxes. The development of the site involved converting poor quality agricultural land used for grazing, into enriched landscaped habitat.

Five years on, monitoring reports have observed a total of 90 botanical species within the meadow and 135 species of plants across the site.

The latest annual monitoring report of the site showed the pond with floating club rush has been doing well with the meadow providing a habitat for invertebrates and cover and foraging habitat for small mammals.

The wildflower meadow has shown an improvement on the last couple of years, with a good structural and species diversity, supporting a range of invertebrates. The area provides further habitat for dragonflies and damselflies. There is also evidence of use of the bird boxes most likely to be blue tits and great tits.

Gemma Lacey, Southern Co-op’s director sustainability and communications, said: “We first commissioned the Wildlife Trust’s biodiversity survey and action plan as we wanted to preserve the features of ecological interest as well as enhance the site by creating new habitat features. We also made sure the building was designed sensitively to complement its surroundings and create a tranquil environment for the bereaved who are visiting.

“As we celebrate The Oaks’ fifth anniversary, we can also celebrate the success of being able to make a real improvement to biodiversity on the site. This is just one of many things we are proud to be doing to support the local and global sustainability agenda and a small action which we hope will inspire other businesses to get involved.”

Sarah Jackson, senior ecologist at Arcadian Ecology, added: “It’s been great working with Southern Co-op to make The Oaks more wildlife-friendly. Our surveying to monitor the progress towards the Biodiversity Action Plan we produced on behalf of Southern Co-op, has found that changes to the way they look after the woodland and pond, and the creation of a wildflower meadow has resulted in big improvements to the range of species the site supports.

“This includes the number of plants recorded nearly doubling in the past two years. This is a fantastic example of how organisations can do their bit for wildlife on their patch, and help create a network of nature-rich spaces across our county for wildlife to recover and thrive.”

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