1 Sep 2021
BENEO transforms settling pond into wildlife haven
Bats, birds, deer, foxes, frogs, rabbits and beavers are some of the species that will thrive under the biodiversity programme BENEO has launched in conjunction with Natagora and Natagriwal.
BENEO, a world leader in functional ingredients, has embarked on a long-term programme to promote biodiversity in the vicinity of its Oreye production plant. In collaboration with not-for-profit environmental organisations Natagora and Natagriwal, BENEO is transforming a former settling pond and the surrounding area into a sanctuary for wildlife, including rare birds, beavers, bats, deer and frogs. The project will contribute to the protection of indigenous and endangered species in Wallonia, at this same time enriching the local community.
Caroline Moitroux, the environment engineer in charge of the biodiversity programme at BENEO, comments: “This project is our chance to play an active role in restoring some of the natural equilibrium that has been lost over time through human activity. Our settling ponds are an environment in which fauna and flora thrive and we see it as our responsibility to preserve and nurture them. As our expertise is in food ingredients we have sought advice from experts in this field. Thanks to our collaborations with not-for-profit environmental organisations Natagora and Natagriwal, we are taking informed action to establish a healthy, natural eco-system in and around our ponds.”
The history of the settling pond dates back to when water was used to wash and transport sugar beet to the Oreye processing facility. The water was passed through the pond to allow the soil to settle on the pond-bed and the clean water to be re-used. 30 years have passed since the pond was employed for this purpose and in the interim period it has been left undisturbed to give nature a chance to develop.
During that time, many species of wildlife have made the pond and surrounding environment their home. The reedbeds that have colonised the water’s edge are an ideal habitat for migratory and native water birds, as well as attracting deer and foxes. Additionally, the woodland beyond provides a hideout for raptors, passerines, rabbits, bats and beavers. The pond’s close proximity to the neighbouring municipal nature reserve also makes it a perfect location for encouraging wildlife to flourish.
To build on these promising beginnings, BENEO has joined forces with Natagora and Natagriwal. With combined expertise in managing habitats and eco-systems as well as executing agro-environmental schemes, both associations will work with BENEO to implement a series of projects that will further develop and enrich the biodiversity of this space. For example, Natagriwal is working with the farmers who work the surrounding land to establish ecological corridors between crops and wild areas and sustainable practices.
Aurélie Borensztein, field advisor for agro-environmental and climatic methods at Natagriwal comments: “The cooperation with the local farmers and Natagriwal is very good and constructive. The various meetings have already led to concrete results on the site. One example are the strips and plots dedicated to the small fauna of the plains.”
Natagora, meanwhile, is taking the lead on protecting indigenous flora and fauna within the sanctuary, through initiatives such as species auditing and habitat creation. The organisation is currently converting a disused electrical cabin for observing and ringing birds.
Commenting on the programme, Thierry Ory, project coordinator at Natagora, says: “The “Hesbaye” region is mainly made up of open-fields areas where few stagnant bodies of water remain. Settling ponds therefore become very attractive for biodiversity, especially birds and dragonflies. All parties are now convinced of the possibilities of coexistence between industrial processes and the enhancement of nature.”
The entire area extends to 30 hectares and includes four other ponds that are still in active use as settling ponds for the water used to wash chicory roots that are processed afterwards at the facility. The rest of the area is given over to farmland for BENEO, which has a proud tradition of being anchored in Oreye’s local agriculture for more than 130 years.
Notes for editors
About BENEO Oreye
BENEO’s Oreye plant, formerly known as Orafti (part of Raffinerie Tirlemontoise), is a success story in the Walloon region (Belgium). The plant was founded in 1889 and operated as a sugar beet refinery for more than a century. In the early 1990s, the process was re-engineered to turn the factory into a chicory-based facility, supported by significant research into the nutritional benefits of chicory fibres and their technological application. Continuous growth ensued, and today BENEO is the global market leader in chicory root fibres, with a second factory operational in South America (Chile) since 2006. Part of German-headquartered Südzucker since 1989, the Oreye plant was integrated into the newly formed BENEO Group when Südzucker founded a new three-pronged ingredients business unit in 2007, together with the legacy Remy (Wijgmaal, Belgium) and Palatinit (Mannheim, Germany) businesses.
BENEO offers functional ingredients derived from chicory roots, beet sugar, rice and wheat. BENEO is the ideal partner to help improve a product in its nutritional and technological characteristics. The company employs more than 1,000 people and has production units in Belgium, Chile, Germany and Italy.
About Natagora and Natagriwal
Present throughout the Wallonia-Brussels region, Natagora has numerous nature reserves spread over 5,000 hectares. Its main objective is to halt the decline of biodiversity and to help restore a better balance between human activities and protection of the environment. Natagriwal informs, advises and supervises farmers, foresters and public or private owners in the implementation of the agro-environmental programme and the European ecological network Natura 2000, which aims to conserve endangered species in Europe.
For further information on BENEO, please visit: www.beneo.com or follow BENEO on Twitter: @_BENEO or LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/beneo.
Head of Corporate Communication
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