ECOCERT Environnement, a French body that audits and certifies environmentally responsible products and services, decided to establish a new label Biodiversity engagement. The label recognizes organizations that place biodiversity issues at the heart of their strategies and business models, in terms of environmental performance, attaining targets, etc. It assesses the biodiversity management system used by the organization under audit, focusing in particular on the degree to which it relies on services provided by nature (e.g., plant-based water purification), and measuring its biodiversity footprint on its direct activities and value chain. It also looks to see if the organization uses an action plan to limit pressure on ecosystems and even promote biodiversity.
Veolia helped to set up this new label by suggesting to ECOCERT that it run a test at the Arc-en-Ciel pilot site in Nantes, northwestern France. The site is home to a waste recovery plant operated on behalf of the Nantes metropolitan authority. Located close to a Natura 2000 protected area, it is one of the significant biodiversity issue sites identified by Veolia.
The first stage involved an on-site assessment by an ecologist. This was then used to draw up an action plan to improve the site’s environmental performance and create an ecological management plan. The assessment highlighted the presence of a rare plant species found only in France: Angelica heterocarpa.
Actions put in place as part of this process included:
- establishment of a large parcel of natural grassland grazed by Ouessant sheep. The presence of sheep, apart from cutting grass naturally, brings with it positive benefits in terms of the arrival of insects and birds formerly discouraged by grass-cutting machinery
- a compost-enriched zone to fertilize the soil in preparation for future tree planting
- a picnic area with tables and benches made from recycled waste for use by visitors (up to 10,000 a year) and staff.
First rolled out in 2015, the biodiversity management process put in place as a result of this assessment was awarded an ‘Engagement Biodiversité’ label by ECOCERT Environnement in January 2016. Arc-en-Ciel became the very first industrial site to achieve this certification.