Nestlé UK & Ireland, makers of Kit Kat, Nescafe and Rowntree products, is to plant nearly 75 acres of flowers to help halt the decline of the UK’s butterfly population.
By 2015 all 15 UK Nestlé sites will have a wildflower meadow within the factory grounds with the aim of attracting more than 10 varieties of butterflies to the sites and improving its environmental sustainability.
In addition, seven dairy farmers, part of the Nestlé First Milk Sustainability Partnership have joined the programme to boost the total to 75 acres. The farmers are from the group who supply the Girvan factory in Scotland with around 70 million litres of milk each year to be used in Nestlé’s milk chocolate and will plant wildflower meadows on their land.
Nestlé will look to further expand the programme across the entire supply chain.
Mike Dilger, Vice President of Butterfly Conservation, naturalist, TV presenter and broadcaster: “This is very positive news from Nestlé. I am fully supportive of any programme which sees the planting of new habitats for butterflies and other pollinators and I welcome their lead on this issue.
Whether it is unused space within a factory site, a farm, a school, a back garden or even a window box, nature in the UK needs help and I hope Nestlé’s commitment to wildflower meadows inspires other businesses, organisations and individuals to follow suit.”
Working with local representatives from Natural England, Cumbria and Northumberland Wildlife Trusts and the Butterfly Conservation, Nestlé employees, families and local schools have already started planting the meadows hoping to attract varieties such as the Large White (Pieris brassicae) Red Admiral (Vanessa Atalanta), the Small Copper, Wall Brown and the Meadow Brown.
Employees and local communities will record new butterfly sightings with the imminent launch of a new app to assist them. The specially designed mobile app which will automatically log findings on the local Wildlife Trust database as part of a campaign to monitor butterfly numbers across the UK.
Nestlé has established a set of criteria for each site around planning, maintaining and improving the meadows. They include employee, community and external expert engagement, correct seeds to plant and how the butterflies are monitored. Each meadow will be independently verified by using the criteria as a measure.
Inder Poonaji, Head of Environmental Sustainability Nestlé UK who developed the programme said: “Without nature, we don’t exist. Nature provides pollinators such as butterflies, bees and birds and they are integral to the food we grow.
“Their habitats are at risk which is why we are announcing this programme, to encourage biodiversity across not only our sites but also land belonging to our First Milk farmers. Over the next few years, we would like to work with more organisations, businesses and people across our entire supply chain to make this project truly national.”
In May this year, the State of Nature report compiled by 25 wildlife organisations was launched suggesting 60% of animal and plant species studied have declined in the past 50 years. The small tortoiseshell butterfly has declined in abundance by 77% in the last ten years, while the British butterfly population is continuing a marked downward trend. Beetles and wildflowers are also among the most vulnerable species.
The Butterfly Conservation 2012 report revealed numbers of the insects fell by more than 20% between 2010 and 2011 adding that there was a long-term and on-going deterioration of suitable butterfly habitats across the countryside.