How do we promote biodiversity?
From stores, distribution centres, offices and even wind turbines, our own sites have a significant impact on biodiversity. Taking into account the existing environment, we strive to make the available space more biodiverse, or to use it in a more biodiverse way by providing more indigenous greenery and attract indigenous animal species.
As a large company, we consider it our duty to pay attention to biodiversity. After all, the diversity of plant and animal species is essential when it comes to oxygen, clean water, fertile soil and a stable climate. This also includes raw materials, building materials, fuel, etc. By means of the following large and small initiatives, and more, we want to create qualitative habitats for fauna and flora on and around our sites, with the aim to stimulate, protect and restore ecosystems.
More green at our sites
- When designing a site, we look at the biodiversity that is already present. We enrich it with indigenous plants, species that thrive specifically in that region. Not only do they require less maintenance and less pesticides, they also attract a lot of insects. Where possible, we also plant old forgotten plant varieties.
- Do we have more than 100 m² of unused land at a site? In that case, we can create a flower meadow. Do people come to the site regularly? Then we opt for a biodiverse lawn with 95% low grass and 5% flowers.
- A green roof was installed on several of our buildings, with mosses, succulents, wild flowers, grasses and/or herbs.
- We also have buildings with a green wall or vertical garden, spread across the country. A (part of a) wall is covered with plants; different species of perennials and grasses that together create a wealth of biodiversity.
green roofs in 2021
green walls in 2021
m² of greenery
average per site by 2021
Attention for animals
- We take various initiatives to attract indigenous animal species: bird houses on green walls, insect hotels in flower meadows, etc. We also place dead hedges where small animals such as spiders, beetles, mice, hedgehogs and many birds can find a nesting place. In these dead hedges you will find lots of insects, which serve as food for the birds. We also think thoroughly of the plants we are going to use. The mixed hedges on our parking lots often include hornbeam and hawthorn, which is a popular nesting place for birds.
- We construct bioswales: artificial slopes where – in case of heavy rain – the rainwater can slowly seep into the soil, thereby recharging the groundwater reserves. Our bioswales provide a home for toads, frogs and salamanders.
- Right next to the Hallerbos we have planted a new forest with 3,000 trees. This gives many animals, such as the pine martens, a larger habitat and we are working concretely on the European nature goals and the Pine Marten Plan campaign. And even further from home, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we are investing in the climate with 12 million trees.
- Our outside lighting is directed mostly directed downwards in order not to disturb bats and insects. The outdoor lighting at our Dassenveld distribution centre will be converted to LED lighting with built-in reflectors, reducing stray light to almost zero. This way, we avoid disturbing the natural habitat of plants and animals as much as we can.
bioswales in 2021
And more ...
- When maintaining all that greenery, we give priority to sustainable techniques, such as brushing or manually removing weeds. In the areas around the Bio-Planet stores, we even completely stopped using pesticides.
- By choosing to use materials that allow water to permeate and provide space for vegetation when constructing parking areas, we are helping to improve water management, soil quality and biodiversity.
- Together with the City of Halle and Sport Vlaanderen we have constructed four new walking trails in Halle. The trails take walkers past a pleasure garden, a flower meadow, a ‘pick-your-own’ garden, an orchard with traditional local fruit varieties and an area specially designed for vulnerable biotopes.
- We regularly organise clean-up actions on our sites. This also benefits biodiversity, because litter is harmful to animals.
- Since 2019, we have been mapping our impact on biodiversity before every renovation or construction. A useful scientific tool for this is the biodiversity test, which we have developed together with Biotoop. With the above initiatives we try to achieve the highest possible score for each site.
What are our plans for the future?
We want to continue and expand our initiatives for more biodiversity on and around our sites. Some of our ambitions:
- completely pesticide-free green management;
- more green roofs on our buildings;
- planting greenery on lots that are temporarily vacant before a construction project starts;
- more soil-bound green walls. Our current green walls are usually not soil-bound. The plants take root in a substrate and are watered via a special system. In soil-bound systems, climbing plants take root in the subsoil and thus get their water and nutrition from the soil.