The Wildlife Trusts and Center Parcs announced the important milestone this week. The short break operator, which opened Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire near Milton Keynes back in 2014, has just reached a 10 year anniversary as proud holders of The Wildlife Trusts’ Biodiversity Benchmark accreditation.
With four villages already accredited, Woburn Forest was the final village to be awarded the benchmark this year, just four years after first opening in the summer of 2014.
This means all villages are now crowned with the wildlife award, recognising the hard work that goes into monitoring, maintaining and developing a rich habitat for wildlife to thrive in.
Center Parcs has worked with The Wildlife Trusts and other environmental and ecological organisations for three decades now, sharing knowledge, records and plans to ensure everyone is working together for the protection and enhancement of natural environments. The presentation of the 10 Years of Biodiversity Benchmark award took place at Sherwood Forest, where the Benchmark, in its previous guise, was first awarded more than 16 years ago.
The Wildlife Trusts encourage landowning businesses to play a role in supporting wildlife through good management and they work hard to recognise and celebrate businesses which have achieved excellence. The Wildlife Trusts’ Biodiversity Benchmark is the only standard that certifies management of business landholdings for wildlife.
Center Parcs has had a strong commitment to protecting and enhancing their forests for more than 30 years. A team of rangers are guardians of the forest, helping to maintain and create new habitats to encourage flora and fauna to flourish.
Center Parcs listed some of the highlights from its venues in the last 10 years:
- First otters at Center Parcs spotted at Whinfell Forest in Cumbria in 2016
- Nesting Dormice first seen at Longleat Forest in Wiltshire three years ago
- Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire continues to support one of the most significant bat populations in the county.
- After struggling for many years the recovery of toad and frog numbers at Elveden Forest in Suffolk
- Turning Woburn Forest from a commercial woodland into a Center Parcs buzzing with wildlife
Martin Dalby, Center Parcs CEO said it was an ‘amazing achievement’.
“Especially knowing how much work goes into taking care of our forests every day,” Mr Dalby said.
“The natural setting of our villages is the unique aspect our guests love most about us. This clearly demonstrates that protecting the natural environment can go hand in hand with a commercial operation - you don’t need to sacrifice one to have the other.”
Nigel Doar, director of strategy at The Wildlife Trusts added: “We believe that everyone has a part to play in bringing about nature’s recovery. Center Parcs has been achieving the Biodiversity Benchmark standard for 10 years, doing the right thing for the natural world and increasing the value of their holiday villages for a wide range of wildlife, year after year. And millions of guests have been inspired to connect with wildlife during and after their stay. Good for the environment; good for people’s health and wellbeing; good fun. Everyone wins.”
The work doesn’t stop there, though.
Center Parcs has vowed to continue to work with organisations like The Wildlife Trusts so it remains collaborative. Mr Doar joined Mr Dalby, landscape asset manager Richard Watson and the ground services managers from each village to hand over the award.
Plans for the next decade include new Biodiversity Sensitive Area maps, new Biodiversity Action Targets and further plans for the continued protection of internationally, nationally and locally rare species at Center Parcs.