Environment & Sustainability
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As a licensed zoological park, our work at Baytree Owl and Wildlife Centre is inextricably linked with the concerns of natural world. We recognize the importance of helping not just to preserve the health of our environment and eco systems, but to mitigate or reverse the effects that ourselves – and others – may contribute through our activities. We are proud of the measures our small team are already taking to enable the operation of the attraction in a sustainable way, and are continually identifying further initiatives that will enable us to tackle the pressing issues of species conservation and the climate crisis. Broadly, this means adopting solutions that achieve the following key aims:
Enrolling in managed conservation or educational projects to further issues of species conservation both locally and abroad
Where the centre breeds species in captivity, we are committed to doing this in a responsible manner. This means only producing offspring in cases where a specific need has been identified to avoid contributing to a surplus of demand.
We are members of organized breeding or re-release projects such as Project Lugger and the LINK Harvest Mouse scheme. The centre also maintains breeding pairs of a number of IUCN Red List species, such as the critically endangered white-backed vulture, where the use of captive-bred offspring may be required for the reversal of future population decline.
The breeding of certain species considered of lesser concern is still pertinent to the furthering of our collective understanding of species conservation where individuals are raised for the purpose of education and public engagement (known as “ambassador birds”). A number of our captive-bred birds are utilised for this purpose, both by the centre itself, and by other falconry centres to whom they are transferred.
Engaging with the local community to improve understanding of issues of species conservation and biodiversity through events, activities or other materials
We believe we are one of only a few attractions in the area to offer a dedicated educational package for schools and recognize the importance of instilling upon the next generation an appreciation of nature and the importance of species conservation. We monitor the effectiveness of our schools programme through ongoing teacher and pupil feedback to ensure the content is engaging and relevant. In addition, the centre has made learning resources and information available free of charge through the website.
The centre runs a number of annual events to draw to attention to particular aspects of species conservation and causes. Vulture Awareness day, for example, focuses on the plight of African vulture species such as the white-backed vulture, with a proportion of the proceeds being donated to vulture charity VulPro. Likewise, Conservation Day brings an audience to a variety of local charities including WILD Things Rescue and the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, focused on given visitors the information they need to help support wildlife at home.
Reducing our carbon footprint in line with national and internationally agreed targets through the use of carbon-reducing or carbon-capturing strategies
Our small team understands the significance of the climate crisis and their own personal responsibility in lowering their contribution as much as possible. The centre director has taken the decision to live on-site and our other staff travel with an awareness of economical driving. During the covid pandemic, we adapted our systems to allow remote working for certain non-manual responsibilities and continue to use these systems where possible.
All materials are locally sourced where available to avoid unnecessary carbon miles. We have the advantage of being located within Baytree Garden Centre, which shares a similar commitment to the sourcing of its plants, with many being grown in its own in-house plant nursery. This enables us to manage planting around the attraction in a sustainable way.
We aim to fill as much non-essential surface area with thoughtfully considered planting to help in two key areas: to assist in capturing carbon, and to enhance the attraction’s biodiversity, such as through the use of insect-friendly plants. This involves novel solutions such as upcycling old pallets to use a wall planters. There are also a number of areas left as “wild patches” containing ideas that visitors can adopt at home (such as the construction of an insect hotel.)
We have made concerted efforts to further reduce the carbon contribution from the production and delivery of certain printed materials, such as animal adoption packages and experience vouchers. In winter 2022, we introduced the ability to purchase digital experience vouchers and in spring 2023 this was extended to include e-Adoption packages. We estimate these measures will reduce the carbon output for these items by 39%.
Limiting the amount of waste material produced, through a combination of: reducing the creation of new materials; increasing the reuse of existing materials; and the safe disposal of harmful materials
A significant portion of our building, construction and enclosure furnishing materials are comprised of existing components (such as from salvage) or acquired from responsible, managed sources (such as FSC timber). New materials are only used for this purpose where it is required for safety or welfare (such as aviary meshes.) We have capacity to capture excess rainwater and use this for suitable purposes such as the watering of plants.
All hazardous waste materials are clearly labelled and responsibly handled both in their use and their disposal. This includes the handling of animal waste and by-products, including animal food, and ensuring that potentially hazardous chemicals are not able to damage the local ecology.
By extension, all waste material is sorted at the point of disposal and recycled where facilities allow. We are committed to reducing the level of non-recyclable products – including single-use plastics and items with mixed-materials, like phasing out the use of plastic-lamination pouches, cellophane bags and windowed envelopes.
This focus on sustainability also applies to the products sold within the attraction’s gift shop, where it is our aim to reduce the number of toys and other products containing new plastics. A majority of our soft toys are now produced in full or part from recycled plastics and we have increased the proportion of non-plastic products (e.g. books.)
It is hoped that by following the core aims outlined in this policy, the centre can continue to provide an engaging and exciting visitor experience whilst ensuring its operation offers far greater benefit than harm to the systems that sustain us and the animals we care for.
Of course, this policy is not inflexible and will be adapted as our understanding of the needs of the environment change and the size and scope of the attraction grows.
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