Led by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, a team of twelve volunteers from The Southern Co-operative’s End of Life Services set about clearing the area surrounding a natural pond in the grounds of The Oaks, Havant Crematorium this autumn.
Surrounding and within the extensive grounds of the crematorium in south east Hampshire is ancient semi-natural woodland, designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). The shaded naturally draining pond in the grounds provides sanctuary for the locally very rare heathland species, Floating Clubrush (Eleogiton fluitans). This is only the fourth known location for this species in south east Hampshire. The Clubrush forms roots on the pond bed when the pond is dry and when the pond naturally fills with rainwater, its roots detach and it ‘floats’ on the top of the water, re-attaching its roots when the pond naturally dries out again.
The Southern Co-operative’s Head of Sustainability, Gemma Lacey, who organised the volunteering, has been working with corporate partner HIWWT over the past six months to maximise the benefit to wildlife around the new crematorium site, which in turn will create a tranquil setting for visitors.
Gemma said; “The team worked very hard and achieved a huge amount in one day. clearing rubble and fallen branches around the pond, creating wood pile habitats to encourage wildlife, planting the bank with woodland flower bulbs and marginal plants including flag iris around the pond. We also built a wheelchair accessible wooden bridge to improve access to the area, and plan to return in the spring to put up bird and bat boxes.”
The Trust’s Assistant Ecologist, Ruth Kernohan, who led the volunteering group, said: “It was a rewarding day with the hard working Southern Co-operative team. As Floating Clubrush can be overtaken by more vigorous growing species, we managed to open up access to the site whilst crucially maintaining its habitat. People visiting the Crematorium will now also be able to enjoy this peaceful area.”
The Oaks crematorium itself has been built to the highest environmental standards, employing the latest techniques in cremation and clean technology to prevent pollution to the air and surrounding environment. The building also uses level energy efficient lighting to minimise light pollution and a green sedum living roof provides additional habitat for wildlife.
Volunteering days are popular with The Southern Co-operative’s colleagues, who are encouraged to volunteer for good causes in work time as part of their community spirited and co-operative ethos. In the past year, teams from its food retail stores and funeral homes have helped HIWWT with hazel coppicing at Pamber Forest near Basingstoke and scrub clearance at Arreton Down on the Isle of Wight, and joined corporate partners Dorset Wildlife Trust to build nesting grounds for terns in the lagoon surrounding Brownsea Island and Sussex Wildlife Trust to clear scrub at Levin Down.