With our national footprint, we have a responsibility to not only ensure that our ecological footprint is as small as possible, but to ensure we restore and enhance natural capital on our properties. Integral to our biodiversity strategy are our five ambitions which guide our actions:
• Restore biodiversity within the An Post land and property portfolio to 1984 levels by 2030.
• Develop a landscape plan for the 2022 growing season that improves biodiversity on our sites whilst being aesthetically pleasing and practical for employees and customers.
• Designate 100% of available land to biodiversity activities which support and protect endangered species by 2030.
• Develop and implement a biodiversity strategy for 100% of buildings within An Post’s property portfolio by 2030.
• Consider biodiversity implications for all newly built/constructed properties by An Post.
This year, as part of delivering on our biodiversity strategy, we conducted a first-of-its-kind assessment of nature-related impacts and dependencies as well the associated risks and opportunities for the business. This assessment reviewed a wide range of data including site locations, employee numbers, fleet composition and property and landscape maintenance schedules, to unearth potential recommendations and assist the ongoing development of our biodiversity strategy.
Our reliance on nature differs compared to primary industries, such as agriculture, however it is still vital to carry out impact assessments to understand the implications of biodiversity loss and the risks this poses to our operations. This is why we complemented the natural capital assessment with a visit to two of our sites in Carlow and Wexford. While both sites are low in biodiversity value due to their urban locations, it was found that both have the potential to support more local species, if we carry out a few key actions. Potential enhancements include:
• Planting native hedgerows along our boundary fences to encourage birds.
• Installing swift boxes in the eaves of our roofs.
• Planting wildflowers and native trees that bear fruit and berries.
• Carrying out lighting adjustments to help encourage safe nesting for birds and bats.
• Installing a living wall which may benefit from a rainwater harvesting irrigation system.
In 2022, we took steps to develop a new landscaping maintenance programme for all of our properties. This was created following a review of all of our sites, which has allowed us to map and measure the potential area for change in the landscape we manage. This review has indicated that approximately 20 acres is available to dedicated landscaping across our property portfolio. Instead of developing a landscaping plan at a national level for the 2022 growing season, we have updated our biodiversity strategy and we are developing a menu of options for site-specific landscaping plans that improves biodiversity. We will continue to update this based on our learnings and as our biodiversity strategy evolves. This menu will be rolled out to ten key locations across the country to ensure that we have chosen the appropriate plants for local conditions, as what grows well in Caherciveen may not grow as well in Dundalk. The strategy will encompass the replacement of ornamental flowers with pollinating plants, the planting of native shrubs along our property lines, the re-wilding of grass and wildflower seeding. In addition, we will investigate how we can support nature in town centre properties through the installation of bird/bat boxes and living walls.