July 12, 2022

Celebrating Wildlife, Sustainability and Biodiversity in HMPPS, and how you can help.

Beatrice Finch
HMPPS Sustainability Lead

Beatrice Finch, HMPPS Sustainability Lead, explains what is happening across HMPPS and invites you to join a conservation day at a prison!

The HMPPS estate is one of the largest and most diverse in government, with a wealth of different priority species and habitats. As part of being an environmentally sustainable organisation, we are making sure that we protect and maintain the species we share our land with.

We understand why we should try to reduce our carbon footprint or conserve our water consumption – these feel like direct threats to our way of life. But apart from our moral duty to future generations, why should we care about biodiversity?

Everything we need to survive relies on biodiversity: without plants there would be no oxygen and without bees and other pollinators there would be no fruit or nuts. But did you know that coral reefs and mangrove swamps protect the coast from cyclones and tsunamis, while trees absorb air pollution, actually cleaning the air in urban areas?

Our biodiversity has been honed through millions of years of evolution. Nothing exists in isolation. If you remove one piece, just one species, it destroys the finely tuned balance which impacts us all. For example, if tropical tortoises and spider monkeys become extinct, you would think the impact on us would be minimal. But the tropical dense hardwood trees that are most effective in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, rely on them for seed dispersal: if they go, then it directly impacts climate change, which we know affects us all.

How HMPPS is conserving biodiversity

MoJ has committed to putting environmental sustainability at the heart of our operations and decision-making. We recognise that as the second largest estate in government, we have a responsibility to reduce our impacts on the environment and increase biodiversity – and we want to lead by example.

Across HMPPS staff, people in prison or on supervision and local communities, are  working hard to create and enhance spaces for nature including ponds, orchards, wildlife gardens, meditative outdoor areas, installing bat and bird boxes and much more. Re-connecting with nature through making our sites more environmentally sustainable can also help improve mental health and well-being and provide rewarding education and rehabilitation opportunities.

One example is the Children’s Butterfly Garden created at HMP Berwyn where a grassland area has been developed as a ‘Pollinator Garden’. It now provides a welcoming and positive entrance and a relaxing environment for visitors, whilst  significantly enhancing the current grassland area for wildlife and pollinators which are in serious decline. The Wildlife Trust funded the butterfly path and worked to build it.

What can you do to support biodiversity?

While most of us are not actively trying to harm biodiversity, modern daily life is rife with unintended consequences. However, with a few simple changes you can reduce your adverse impact on the environment and encourage biodiversity to flourish.

  • Composting is key. It reduces the amount of waste going into landfills plus it helps restore nutrients to the soil.
  • Help our native pollinators. Pollinators are the key to reproduction for most flowering plants. See if you are on a B-line
  • If you have a garden, consider sowing some wildflowers – September is a great month to do this. And don’t beat yourself up if you mow the lawn less, even this simple act of leaving the grass to grow a bit longer helps encourage biodiversity to thrive.
  • And if you don’t have a garden, can you plant up some pots? Lavender grows very well in containers and it’s brilliant for bees.

Or you could…

Sign up to one of our HMPPS Prison Insights conservation volunteering days. Sign up by clicking the links below:

23rd August – A day for wildlife @ HMP Thorn Cross.  We will be working with staff and prisoners to mow conservation paths, build wildlife habitats, do some pond dipping, and maybe even extract honey from their beehives! Book your ticket here: Get your ticket – A day for Wildlife: HMP / YOI Thorn Cross – HMP / YOI Thorn Cross, Tue 23 Aug 2022 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM (tickettailor.com) Tickets close 16th August.

31st August - A day for wildlife @ HMP Send.  We will be working with staff and prisoners to restore their pond. Work will involve taking out the old liner, re-contouring the hole so it is more wildlife friendly, installing a new liner and native plants.  Amphibian and Reptile Groups UK (ARGUK) will also be there to assist with the more technical side of establishing a new pond. Book your ticket here: Get your ticket – A day for Wildlife: HMP Send – HMP Send, Wed 31 Aug 2022 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM (tickettailor.com) Tickets close 16th August.

8th September – A day for wildlife @ HMP Whitemoor.  We will be working with staff on their wildlife reserve outside the prison.  A real treat for the wildlife enthusiast – they have a bird hide where you can see kingfishers and maybe even a marsh harrier. We will be clearing the main pond at HMP Whitemoor. There is a boat and the tools to complete the tasks, you will need to bring spare clothes and wellies! Graham and Ben (the onsite team) would like to take you around the nature reserve in the afternoon. Book your ticket here: Get your ticket – A day for Wildlife: HMP Whitemoor – HMP Whitemoor, Thu 8 Sep 2022 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM (tickettailor.com) Tickets close 1st September.

14th September - A day for wildlife @ HMP Channings Wood.  We will be working with staff and prisoners to prepare an area for wildflower seeding, creating wildlife habitats, and helping to restore their pond. Book your ticket here: Get your ticket – A day for Wildlife: HMP Channings Wood – HMP Channings Wood, Wed 14 Sep 2022 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM (tickettailor.com) Tickets close 4th September.

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