LET’S BE INSPIRED

OUR QUARTERLY UPDATE

Wow UK Summer, where have you been and gone? What began as a very dry, hot summer for our soils has slowly turned into a very wet one pre-harvest. Despite the weather, there have been a lot of big things happening at Belmont, including our exciting nature-recovery project.

It’s time to look back at some of the best bits of the summer and share our quarterly round-up of highlights and the impact that you have helped us achieve. 

NATURE-Based Education

Our nature-based education programme has been extremely busy with a full roster of schools and families over the last three months before taking a much-needed holiday break for the summer.

In total, we welcomed 662 people to our programme across the last three months. This includes 26 school or organisation visits, 527 young people & school children and 135 adults.

This brings our total to 1,316 people who have engaged with our nature programme so far this year.

We welcomed Hanham Woods Academy back to our nature education programme for a moth trapping session so the children could see, touch and feel the species deepening their connection with nature. Photograph by Sam Ingles.

WATERCRESS REWETTING PROJECT

The Watercress rewetting project has been the project we have been most looking forward to this year. It will be our largest nature restoration project to date and will provide tremendous environmental and community benefits.

The project started in June and over the last two months, 250m of river channel has been excavated and shaped. The new section of the Land Yeo now meanders through the fields with scrapes and ponds excavated to its side.

During the project, 400m3 of spoil was moved daily from the river channel, scrapes and ponds to create butterfly banks in other areas of the rewilding project. Across the final month of construction, these will be seeded with a variety of wildflower seeds to provide habitats for a variety of invertebrates and butterflies. Interested in learning more about the wetland project and river rewiggling, then read an article written by Ecosulis here.

The scale of change that is already happening within the wetlands project.

PEATLAND RESTORATION

Nature’s resilience is a testament to its ability to heal when given the chance. One remarkable example of this is peatland restoration, a vital initiative delivering incredible benefits for both the environment and businesses alike. Our peatland restoration in the Highlands of Scotland is a key pillar of our nature recovery projects.

Peatland restoration is more than just a noble endeavour; it’s a strategic move with far-reaching impact. By bringing degraded peatlands back to health, we help restore natural water cycles, prevent flooding and reduce carbon emissions, contributing to the fight against climate change and rejuvenating valuable ecosystems.

Embracing peatland restoration isn’t just an act of corporate responsibility; it’s a smart business decision. By investing in the restoration of peatlands, we align with sustainable practices that resonate with our customers and partners and recognise that the long-term health of our environment underpins and supports all that we do.

Our peatland restoration project in the Highlands of Scotland. Photograph by Gil Martin.

BIODIVERSITY NET GAIN

Biodiversity Net Gain has become a trending topic over the last couple of months, so it has been a priority for us to learn, engage and educate ourselves and our wider community. BNG is an approach to development and/or land management that aims to leave the environment in a better state than before.

As an early provider of BNG units in the South West with several sales underway and as we move closer to November 2023 (when it becomes mandatory by UK Government), we recently hosted a BNG event in collaboration with FBE Great Western and Forum for the Future within our rewilding project.​

We believe in the importance of bringing people into our restoration projects to see first-hand the environmental progress that is being made and to educate more people on the various types of habitat restoration taking place at Belmont, from rewilding to rewetting and how natural capital products like BNG can be environmentally and socially beneficial. ​

Rewilding the South West event in the rewilding project. Photograph by Katya Browne.

WILDLIFE AND SURVEYING SPECIES

Ecological surveying has been in full swing across the summer with wildlife surveys happening every week within our rewilding project. Across the last three months, 99 volunteers have taken part in 31 volunteer sessions. ​

Since 2022, the number of species has increased by 165 and we now have recorded 1,331 different species of animals and plants. Recent highlights from our survey sessions include new sightings of the following species: ​

  • Hummingbird Hawk-moth ​
  • Female Ruddy Darter dragonfly ​
  • Silver-washed Fritillary butterfly ​
  • Wasp Spider ​
  • Ledra Aurita grasshopper ​

One of the rarest sightings was the Male Golden Ringed dragonfly which is extremely uncommon in this area. We’ve also had many Marbled White butterfly sightings which is a positive sign of species-rich grassland. It is encouraging that there is a good range of species observed locally and the rewetting process should improve the habitat for more species next year.

The photographs include a variety of dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, a Hummingbird Hawkmoth, an Orchid and a Wasp Spider. Photographs by Robin Martin.

WILDLIFE VOLUNTEERING

Our volunteering programme has grown hugely over the last year and offers numerous benefits. For nature enthusiasts, it presents an opportunity to actively participate in environmental initiatives and witness first-hand the significance of surveying and protecting biodiversity. It also acts as a catalyst for connections, facilitating the meeting of like-minded individuals who share a passion for environmental stewardship and social progress. We’re extremely proud of the passionate individuals who dedicate their time on a weekly basis and help us monitor the changes that we are seeing in our habitats.

Hear from Robin Martin, one of our wildlife volunteers about is approach to surveying dragonflies and butterflies at Belmont and what he enjoys the most.

VOLUNTEERING DAYS

During the summer, we held two volunteering days for our gold partners TLT LLP, one within our rewilding project and one at a local community project at Brandon Hill. ​

In total, 100 employees joined us for two days across the summer. The dedicated teams took on various crucial tasks that will have a lasting impact on the environment. ​

The TLT LLP team on their summer volunteering day within our rewilding project, Watercress Farm.

From conducting invertebrate surveys to better understand the biodiversity of the site, to erecting our new wetlands project signs, to enhancing access for our education base by adding wood chippings, every effort made a difference. They also continued their incredible work on our brash and habitat piles, encouraging tree growth and creating valuable habitats for local wildlife.

The benefits of this type of volunteering are truly remarkable. Beyond the environmental impact, volunteering also brings benefits to our business and the local community. Bringing people together for purposeful action fosters strong connections whilst collaborating on how we can work together to protect and preserve our natural landscape.

volunteers
Members of the TLT LLP team taking part in some invertebrate surveying.

WHAT’S NEXT?

We’re looking forward to the next three months as we scale our restoration projects across the UK. ​

During the next two months, our wetlands project will be complete, and we will be announcing our goals for a new site so keep your eyes peeled for more updates soon.​ To read the full quarterly report, click here.

Here’s to another impactful three months!