Here at Nikwax, we have always been committed to protecting the natural world we love and enjoy, and this is where the focus has been over the over the last 40 years since the company’s inception -by manufacturing low impact products. We have consistently measured our environmental footprint, so we have a solid understanding of any impact we may make on the environment and subsequently make improvements. From balancing our carbon emissions to ensuring chemical safety with our products, here at Nikwax we always strive to make a difference – and now we are furthering our efforts!
Based in rural, leafy Wadhurst, East Sussex, we recently purchased a site with 10 acres of land attached to it that had previously been used for grazing sheep. We wished to expand our environmental focus and not let the land to go to waste.
An exciting project is underway, whereby we are developing this land to expand biodiversity through the creation of different habitats. Our aim is to conserve, protect and restore the land’s natural resources, bringing our environmental and sustainability commitments to the local area. At Nikwax, we feel it is our obligation to reduce our impact on a local level; aside from the global stance we have always had on environmental issues of climate change, or PFC pollution. We have an opportunity right here on our doorstep that could help make a difference!
We have just started a woodland area, with 1,000 trees planted by staff over three days! The species planted are ones suitable to thrive in the location and they include: Common Oak, Hornbeam, Walnut, Field Maple, Hazel, Holly, Hawthorne, Dogwood, Sweet Chestnut, Quickthorn, Spindle, Crab Apple, Aspen, Wild Cherry, Alder Buckthorn and Small Leaved Lime. There will also be a small orchard, containing a selection of fruit trees.
During initial investigations into the land, a camera trap was used to see what wildlife visits the area. Footage showed deer, foxes and badgers all frequenting the land and it became clear that work we undertake needs to incorporate a healthy area for these species and others, to still inhabit, as well as encourage new wildlife to the area!
There are things we can do to help different species flourish on the land, including using dead wood to create insect banks; retaining dying trees, where possible, as a means to support insect and fungi communities; and, ensuring no use of chemical pesticides on the land, but instead sourcing alternative methods. Plans are in place to implement and establish both a grassland area and a wildflower meadow, which would be prime to attract insects, butterflies and bees, as well as installing boxes on the site to encourage barn owls on to the site. A further habitat would be the creation of a Scrape: this is a shallow depression in the land with sloping edges that would hold water seasonally and would support a variety of invertebrates (beetles and bugs etc), as well as provide a vital feeding area for wading birds. Some of the species that would be drawn to the addition of a scrape are important in conservation, so research would be done to ensure that water is held in the scrape through the key months of March to June, as they provide a vital food source for the wading birds.
In the long-term, we hope the site can develop to house a variety of natural zones that will educate and inspire people, with a view that down the line we can look to incorporate the wider community in some way.
Nikwax Sustainability Director, Maite Angleys, said, “Not only our products, logistics and operations form part of our holistic approach on sustainability. When looking at the concept of planetary boundaries, biodiversity is one of the crucial aspects we have to consider. Public discussion aims mainly at a reduction of CO2 emissions, which is an important aspect but the disastrous results of loss of biodiversity are by far underrated. By restoring the natural habitats and woodland we are taking a first step to strengthen local biodiversity and continue our tradition as sustainable, innovative business.”