Biffa Waste Services: Brookhurst Wood Landfill Site
Creating a safe space for butterflies, at a closed landfill site in West Sussex
What we know
At Biffa, we have a Sustainability Strategy which sets out our biodiversity targets – and one of our key goals is to see 20% of our entire estate managed for biodiversity.
Headed up by our Resources and Energy division we are making actions for nature, particularly in support of pollinators.
Brookhurst Wood site is a now closed landfill in West Sussex. The land here has the potential to support biodiversity and to provide a space for nature. It has rich grasslands and a large space which can be used to promote species health. However, much of the land is fragmented and under extreme pressure from nearby development and land-use change that’s resulted in overgrazing.
These pressures have resulted in the dramatic decrease of butterfly populations in the area, adding to the declining population numbers across the UK. Grassland species face a particular threat of extinction in the UK, with many ranking among the most severely declining UK butterflies. The loss of habitat, wildflower and grassland being a contributing factor.
In February 2020 we received planning permission for a comprehensive review of the landscape and planning permission to begin a new phase of pro-biodiversity work.
What we’re doing
Butterfly expert David Bridges has been surveying the site for years, identifying the butterflies present.
He identifies not just butterflies, but also the potentially perfect habitats for rare and declining species. And he has noted that our landfill site is the perfect space for the Grizzled Skipper.
Working with The Butterfly Conservation charity, and their Building sites for Butterflies programme, we developed and amended our existing restoration scheme to create a habitat that would promote butterfly species in the area.
Our original restoration scheme focussed heavily on creating large woodland areas. But our new approach and advice led us to prioritise grassland restoration. Rich grassland and meadows are in scarce supply, but invaluable to butterflies who depend on them. Further planning permission was granted for a 14-hectare species-rich wildflower habitat on site.
What it’s worth
Working with The Butterfly Conservation and County Ecologist, alongside butterfly expert David Bridges, we have pivoted our restoration to focus our support and create new and desperately needed habitat for butterflies.
And it’s working. Recent monitoring of the site has shown that populations of Grizzled Skipper and Small Heath butterflies have greatly increased in line with the development and improvements with the site. We have also increased the number of bumblebees, and even breeding Linnet birds which are on the red list for UK conservation.
Biffa’s landfill portfolio offers substantial opportunity to support pollinators and biodiversity. Our Resources and Energy division is responsible for our biodiversity projects at Biffa, with the support of our Environment and External Affairs Team. Biffa’s recently published Sustainability Strategy sets out biodiversity targets which would see 20% of our estate managed for biodiversity, rising to 30% by 2030, maximising the ecological value of our nature capital.James Stewart-Irvine Planning Manager, Biffa