Southern Railway steams ahead with network-wide biodiversity push

Southern Railway has entered into a partnership with Sussex Wildlife Trust to launch a biodiversity project which it hopes to expand across its entire rail network.

The ‘Making a B-Line for Sussex’ initiative aims to restore and encourage natural eco-systems to areas where railway infrastructure has had a major impact in loss of wildlife.

While the building of tracks can often dissect the landscape, presenting barriers for species and limiting movement from one habitat to another, they can also provide a corridor for wildlife if managed effectively.

Likewise, reducing light usage at stations particularly at night can also help mitigate the effects of natural habitat loss.

According to Southern’s environment manager Sandra Norval, who is leading the project, there are parallels to be drawn between the behaviour of bees and commuters that use the rail network – both travel to and from ‘hives’ to do their work, heading out to the places they need to find food and social role.

Speaking to edie, she said this was the root of the ‘B-Line’ concept which will see planting projects designed to help bees, butterflies, birds and bats.

“This will ultimately benefit wildlife, but also deliver a nicer environment for people passing through these spaces. We will be mapping all wildlife areas around our network working in collaboration with other stakeholders including the Civil Aviation Authority and Network Rail,” she said.

“The idea is that they all have pockets of land or volunteer resource,” she added. “It’s quite an exciting project, there’s a huge amount of interest in it.”

The announcement neatly ties in with recent proposals by the Government to introduce biodiversity offsetting in the UK, in which developers will be required to provide new wildlife sites to compensate for the areas they are building on.

Southern has also achieved an impressive zero waste drive at one of its biggest stations, East Croydon, which saw landfill diversion soar from zero to almost 100% in just six months.

The in-depth exclusive interview with Southern Railway’s environment manager Sandra Norval can be read here

Maxine Perella

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