Since 2005, the Environmental Management Team has been working in partnership with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) to develop a series of action plans to safeguard and enhance the biodiversity around our buildings
In 2006 work started at Victoria Quay to create a biodiversity pond and wildflower meadow area at the western end of the building. During the next two years staff were invited to take part in a series of volunteer action days alongside BTCV. Staff took part in activities ranging from digging flowerbeds and planting shrubs to building, lining and seeding the pond. Staff reported new signs of foxes and ducks even while the project was still ongoing.
We also developed the area around the children's nursery at Victoria Quay to make it more vibrant and interactive for both the children and adults. This area had been in need of attention for some time and both the nursery staff and parents of the children were keen to redesign the planted areas for the children to experience more colours and smells. BTCV was again involved in steering the developments, including building a series of large, low-level flowerboxes, pruning and reshaping of the bushes bordering the area and planting a host of attractive and native plants.
In 2007 new hedges and shrubs were planted at more central locations like St Andrew's House and Pentland House and added more trees such as cherry and crab apple. We also developed the corresponding maintenance plans so that appropriate pruning, weeding and mowing would be carried out.
In 2008, staff at Saughton House took part in a series of biodiversity action days to transform some of the low-maintenance managed areas surrounding the building, by planting hedges and plants to create a greater natural haven for local wildlife including chaffinches and goldfinches. By then the pond and meadow area at Victoria Quay was maturing, and held a wider range of plant species with interpretation boards installed to help staff and visitors identify and enjoy the wildlife within. This has contributed greatly to the enhancement of biodiversity on the site and is a living testament to the hard work of the volunteers whose efforts started the whole process.
By 2009 our biodiversity target had been updated, with the Scottish Government aiming to "implement activities from its local biodiversity action plans identified for eight target buildings, by March 2010, to conserve and enhance biodiversity at those sites." Resource limitations have restricted progress in this area in recent months, but we are committed to update our existing biodiversity action plans and implement the activities contained within them.