Nature praise

A GOLF club and two private companies have been praised by English Nature, the government's wildlife agency, for their conservation efforts.The agency is trying to promote the message that working with wildlife is good for business.

A GOLF club and two private companies have been praised by English Nature, the government's wildlife agency, for their conservation efforts.

The agency is trying to promote the message that working with wildlife is good for business.

It has handed accolades to Ipswich Golf Club, the Suffolk Secrets holiday lettings firm and the Landscape Partnership consultancy.

Richard Rafe, area manager for English Nature, said its research had identified a number of motivating factors for businesses that wished to favour wildlife.

"Supporting the environment gives business more than just a feel good factor. There are real incentives in terms of financial boost, extra business or an enhanced profile," he added.

Ipswich Golf Club has a dedicated conservation team and, according to English Nature, had demonstrated an "enormous commitment" to restoring the heathland habitat within which it operated.

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It had twice won a national golf environment competition, using the prize money to reinvest in growing native species of plant on site.

Mr Rafe said heather, gorse and broom were all cut in rotation in order to maintain the habitat.

Woodland was also carefully managed by coppicing, also in rotation, and two nature trails had been created to demonstrate the wildlife benefits.

"The club has also cleared lakes of scrub vegetation and planted new reedbeds to provide both new habitats and clean the water entering the lakes through storm drains," he added.

He also praised Suffolk Secrets for becoming a founder member of the CONNECT scheme, set up by the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Unit to raise awareness of the local environment and raise money for its upkeep.

Businesses in the scheme offer clients the chance to pay a levy that goes towards the maintenance of the nationally-designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Richard Pither, who runs Suffolk Secrets with his wife Wendy said: "Tourism can cause problems in our region by, for example, concentrating too many visitors at beauty spots or putting pressure on the housing market.

"Since the conservation of the local environment is fundamental for our business to thrive, we welcomed the opportunity to put something back and help preserve the coastal areas and heathlands."

The Landscape Partnership, based in Woodbridge, provides a range of planning services.

Dr Jo Parmenter, the firm's ecologist and environmental co-ordinator, said: "Our type of client is changing - they are becoming more ecologically aware and interested in how the environment affects their development plans."

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