Articles Features & Opinion

Treading lightly on Scilly — reducing our business impact

In the third article of the mini-series, Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust Chief Executive, Sarah Mason, talks about the measures the Trust are taking to reduce their environmental impact…

As a nature conservation charity, there is an expectation that our activities minimise any negative impact on the wider environment. We use fuel; a fair bit of it as it powers our chainsaws, tractor and pedestrian mowers. Our cattle need to drink water; a precious commodity in Scilly. And of course we have to “import” goods from the mainland either by boat or plane; both carbon-heavy transport methods.

So we thought it was time to look at what we do (and give ourselves a thumbs up) and then see where we can make some improvements. We’ve called it our “Eco-pledge” as it shows that we understand our responsibility to reduce our own impact on our precious natural resources and that we need to help others, both residents and visitors to Scilly, to do the same.

Credit: © BareFoot Photographer & Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust

What we are doing:

  • The Trust has received energy-saving advice through the Smart Energy Islands business support project enabling us to install an energy monitor to reduce the energy we are using in our office;
  • The Trust is signed up to a 100% renewable energy deal through Ecotricity. This has saved £375 per year on the previous supplier deal;
  • The Trust has bought a 100% electric van which costs 0.03 per mile to fuel with electricity. Taking into account insurance (£148 per year) and battery hire costs (£360 per year), the vehicle costs £578 per year to run compared to a diesel equivalent of £1508 per year; saving £930 per year.
  • Travel to the mainland is minimised by using virtual meetings via the internet;
  • We buy bulk Eco-cleaning products for the office so that we can refill dispensers;
  • We recycle everything we can within the current constraints of business recycling on the Islands;
  • Washable hand-towels are used in the wash-rooms rather than disposable paper towels or electric hand driers;
  • 100% recycled paper for printing is purchased and re-use of single-sided print happens where possible;
  • We use reusable coffee cups and drinks bottles (alongside the running of the Plastic Free and Refill Scilly initiatives)
  • Where possible, we always collect marine debris from wherever we have been so that any rigid plastic can be recycled through our partnership with Terracycle;
  • The engines in our land management machinery use Aspen 2-stroke oil, a fully synthetic low-smoke oil that is partly biodegradable, biologically inert and non-toxic;
  • Plantoil, a non-toxic, rapidly biodegradable lubricant is used in the chainsaws which is derived from rapeseed oil from renewable sources;
  • The Trust (and contract graziers on off-islands) carries out low-intensity livestock grazing, rotational reed cutting and management of water levels on coastland headlands and wetlands at levels which promote carbon sequestration and soil formation. Management of both grasslands and wetlands in this way can capture up to 80 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare.

Credit: © Sarah Mason, Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust

So what next?

  • We are looking to retrofit a grey-water system to our office/workshop to minimise usage of this precious resource.
  • The Trust will undertake a full carbon audit to accurately measure its carbon footprint; this will allow us to make changes to our business practices to further reduce our emissions and demonstrate our commitment to a low-carbon & sustainable future to our supporters. It will also enable us to look at how our land management practices might help us offset our carbon usage.

If you like what you’re reading then why not follow us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram to get regular, daily instalments regarding our ongoing conservation in our remote south-west corner of the UK? With updates regarding the Ranger Teams work programme, our events and education programme and the work of our Seabird Ecologist.

Intrigued about the machinery we’ve mentioned? Be sure to pop back next month where we hope to tell you a little more about the work we do and the tools we use to get the job done.

Header Image Credit: © BareFoot Photographer & Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust.