Center Parcs Biodiversity Award

Monday, 10 August, 2009

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Center Parcs was the first organisation to be awarded The Wildlife Trusts' Biodiversity Benchmark for all its sites.  Following a rigorous audit at Center Parcs Whinfell Forest in Cumbria, the Biodiversity Benchmark was presented to Center Parcs in recognition for its continual efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment at its four holiday villages across the UK.
Center Parcs is the leader in the UK short break holiday market and champions the way forward for the natural environment within the UK tourist and leisure industry.
The four Center Parcs villages across the UK feature a broad range of habitats including mixed woodland, lakes, waterways, wood pasture, heath, acid grassland and meadow. These sites are home to many protected species, including the Red Squirrel at Whinfell Forest in Cumbria and the Nightjar at the Sherwood Forest Holiday Village in Nottinghamshire. Center Parcs is the only organisation to employ a dedicated Red Squirrel Ranger to work with other organisations in Cumbria to preserve and enhance the refuge for red squirrels. The Nightjar, a rare night-hunting bird, is being encouraged to thrive at the Sherwood Forest site where Center Parcs is carrying out major heathland re-creation.
The pioneering Biodiversity Benchmark enables organisations across the country to assess the quality of their land management, improve their contribution to the environment and demonstrate their commitment to biodiversity. Similar to other standards for management systems, the Biodiversity Benchmark is composed of a set of detailed requirements which an organisation must be able to meet. Furthermore, it is the first truly recognised endorsement to acknowledge organisations who continually commit to biodiversity improvement.
At the presentation ceremony at Whinfell on 30 July 2009, Mark Waller, Chartered Landscape Architect Center Parcs said: "Center Parcs is delighted to have retained the Biodiversity Benchmark for the third year running. The Biodiversity Benchmark Assessment carried out at our Whinfell Forest Holiday Village, once again proved to be an excellent process to review our environmental systems. The assessment was carried out in a very professional manner, highlighting improvements to our biodiversity management procedures. Even for an organisation with well established systems, the discipline of the Biodiversity Benchmark helps Center Parcs focus environmental management and continually improve our natural environment - to the benefit of wildlife and visitors alike."
Peter Bullard, director of Cumbria Wildlife Trust, added: "Center Parcs well and truly deserve to be awarded the Biodiversity Benchmark. The natural environment is at the heart of the way they operate and the Biodiversity Benchmark is independent recognition of their commitment to the preservation and enhancement of wildlife at Whinfell and their other holiday villages. Whinfell is home to an enormous diversity of wildlife so it is important that whilst managing their holiday business, they seek to continually improve their care of the local environment."
"Center Parcs is a shining example of wildlife conservation working well within the tourism and leisure sector. Their commitment to the environment, and in particular biodiversity, is exemplary and just goes to show what can be achieved when business and conservation work hand-in-hand. It proves that effective environmental stewardship of the land can help nature thrive - this does not happen by accident, it requires a great deal of commitment and hard work by Center Parcs and I hope that this award will encourage many more organisations to follow their lead."
For more information on the Biodiversity Benchmark visit: www.biodiversitybenchmark.org