At our Cassel site in the UK, we’re lucky to operate within a rich, complex, biodiverse area that sees us share our space with a vast range of species – from the smallest flower to large roe deer.

The site’s ‘biodiversity action area’ is part of an expansive ‘green corridor’ providing habitats aplenty, from semi-mature woodland and newly-created grassland, to water both within a reservoir and in Billingham Beck which threads its course along the area’s boundary.

This summer, the Industry Nature Conservation Association (INCA), of which Lucite International (LI) has long been a member, held its second annual Biodiversity Exchange which saw a team from INCA, LI and neighbouring industry get up-close to Cassel’s thriving biodiversity.

Pictured: the team prepared to take a tour of the area.

On a less-than-sunny afternoon in late June, armed with cameras, bug pots and binoculars, the team set off on a circular route around the fifteen-hectare site.

The first stop was at an underpass at the northern edge of the site, linking LI’s biodiversity area to that of neighbouring Johnson Matthey’s site. Remote cameras at this spot have shown it to be a popular location for badger and fox, both of which prefer large habitats and territories.

INCA commented:

“This shows the importance of the series of linked green sites in allowing species, such as these large mammals, to migrate and adapt to local changes.”

The northern area also saw some significant habitat creation a few years ago. ‘Scrapes’ – shallow depressions in the ground designed to hold seasonal rainfall – were created alongside brownfield habitats using slag and other deposits. This results in an array of interesting, unusual flora such as the low-growing ‘yellow carpet’ of Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

Pictured: the team explores a habitat improvement area, rich in low-growing Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

Moving south towards the reservoir, focus grew and small movements began to be more noticeable around the team’s feet. Vividly-coloured damselfly moved silently between long grasses, followed closely by grasshopper and a range of moth, over 150 species of which inhabit the site. On the day, these ranged from summer migrants to common, family-friendly moths and even a striking, diminutive yellow-barred long-horn.

Pictured: the yellow-barred longhorn, Nemophora degeerella.

One of the most interesting areas of site was next on the route – a large reclamation mound in the south-eastern corner. Over four metres high, this ‘blank canvas’ was transformed into a bespoke wildflower meadow in 2011 as part of INCA’s ongoing efforts to encourage wildlife to the site.

The meadow has continued to evolve and has transformed into one of the site’s busiest areas for biodiversity. Tall wildflower such as Greater Knapweed, Field Scabious and Lady’s Bedstraw form swathes of purple, lilac and yellow which host scores of attractive burnet moths and Skipper butterfly.

Pictured: Cassel site’s blossoming wildflower meadow.

Speaking after the event, INCA concluded:

“Many of our members have been keen on wildlife for a number of years, so it was great for them to be able to pass on this knowledge to some new faces who attended this year. This is very encouraging and hopefully some of that knowledge, and an eye for what’s possible on land next to industry, will help generate new ideas to see at the next INCA Biodiversity Exchange in 2020.

“Thanks to all who attended and to Lucite International for hosting this successful event.”