Coming together to protect biodiversity in our communities

Coming together to protect biodiversity in our communities

For Melanie Wade, living and working in the Cotswolds region, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), is a pleasure and a privilege she doesn’t take for granted. England’s third largest protected landscape, the Cotswolds covers a distance of almost 800 miles, with more than 3,000 footpaths and bridle paths to explore ancient woodlands and wildflower meadows.

But like so many natural areas, the Cotswolds ecosystem needs committed members of the community to help protect its natural beauty and wildlife. Melanie and her colleagues at Xylem’s Quenington, UK, location have made this their passion. Their volunteer work with Xylem Watermark, Xylem’s corporate social responsibility program, is part of Xylem’s growing global efforts to promote biodiversity in the communities where we work and live.

In 2023, Xylem employees around the world dedicated more than 30,000 hours to 400 volunteer events designed to protect their local watersheds and preserve biodiversity. As part of our two-month-long Watershed Challenge initiative, employees and partners took part in invasive species removals, tree plantings, waterway clean-ups, building of rain gardens, storm drain labeling, water body testing and more.

Melanie – who works as a Project Management Coordinator and engages her colleagues in social impact work as a Watermark champion – believes that even small efforts can lead to lasting impacts in our communities.

Q: What makes biodiversity preservation important at Xylem’s Quenington site and in the wider community?

Melanie: Xylem’s Quenington location, which provides global pumping solutions and expertise, is in the center of a beautiful little village in the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire. The area is surrounded by picturesque footpaths leading through woodland and along the banks of the river Coln. The Cotswolds are a place of stunning beauty, with rich flora and fauna. They are home to wildlife like the reintroduced Large Blue Maculinea Arion, the UK’s rarest butterfly and a globally endangered species, many farmland birds and the Greater Horseshoe Bat. While 27% of UK land is designated as protected for nature, studies show the proportion of that land that’s effectively protected could actually be as low as 5%. This is why biodiversity preservation of the region is so critical.

At Xylem, our commitment to sustainability runs deep. It’s a core part of our business, which focuses on developing sustainable, innovative water solutions, and a central part of who we are as a company. In 2023, 89% of Xylem colleagues volunteered with Watermark to promote sustainability in their communities.

One thing I love about working for Xylem is that employees bring the same passion and shared commitment to our volunteer activities as we do to our work with our customers. We know when we work together, we can really make an impact for our community and the natural world around us.

Q: How have you promoted greater biodiversity at the Quenington site?

Melanie: We have turned our location into a green oasis for our employees and visitors to enjoy. Our gardening practices go beyond aesthetics and support the creation of a thriving ecosystem on the site’s grounds. For example, we’ve installed flower beds from recycled wooden pallets, which create habitats and food sources for wildlife such as birds, butterflies and insects. The flowers we've planted are essential for plant reproduction as they attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Another important aspect of our sustainable garden concept is the economical use of water. To this end, we’ve installed a water-saving irrigation system that collects rainwater to minimize water consumption. And since 2018, we have been composting on site to keep organic waste out of landfills.

Q: What kinds of biodiversity activities are you doing for the larger community?

Melanie: In addition to our efforts at our site in Quenington, we actively engage with the local community to promote biodiversity in the community, including protecting ponds, wetlands and woodlands, and water conservation in school gardens. In 2023, we worked with Noah's Oak, a local nonprofit that provides residential and outdoor learning experiences for disadvantaged and disabled children.

Our volunteers helped maintain the woodlands around their location by clearing paths and planting a mix of 15,000 spring bulbs for wildlife and children to enjoy.

We’ve also engaged with local schools by giving talks to primary school children about protecting local waterways, as well as carrying out water testing. In 2024, we are excited to continue our work with Noah's Oak and expand our work with schools beyond the local area due to demand.

Q: What can other Xylem sites or companies learn from your biodiversity conservation experience?

Melanie: Don’t overthink building a biodiversity program, as it doesn’t need a lot of time and effort to get started. Start small and build it up as you go. As I’ve learned at Xylem, there are a lot of people on your team who are passionate about nature and about doing good for the community. If you give them the opportunity to take action, they will – with incredibly creative and impactful results.

Also, encourage your colleagues and families to promote sustainability and biodiversity at home: recycle, upcycle, repurpose, compost, grow your own produce, shop local – the list is endless. Every small change to the way we live and think can make a difference for the better and help create a more sustainable future.

Xylem’s 2023 Sustainability Report launches on June 3, 2024. Read more about sustainability at Xylem.

Photos: Nicole Phillips