Global and local environmental challenges are never far from our minds at Spadel. From becoming carbon neutral over the entire life cycle to reducing our plastic footprint, regular readers of Source of Change will know quite how much effort we put into safeguarding our natural resources. And the many projects and partnerships over the years really are paying off. To coincide with the 100th anniversary of Spa Monopole and the royal visit by King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium on November 18th, we calculated our net impact on biodiversity and found we are biodiversity positive. This means biodiversity in the area Is better off with Spa’s presence than without it.
Biodiversity crucial for life on earth
Biodiversity is the variety of plants and animal life in an area. They form a balanced ecosystem and support life and everything in nature that we need to survive: food, clean water, medicine, and shelter. This balance in nature is under severe pressure worldwide. Closely linked to the fight against climate change, many new biodiversity goals are thus being formulated internationally.
Biodiversity is also crucial to the success and future of Spadel, as pure water comes from a healthy environment, and a healthy environment relies on a healthy biodiversity. This is why we first started taking measures to safeguard our water catchment area in 1772. Today, the nature protection perimeter around Spa Monopole is the size of 26,000 football pitches and is one of the largest in Europe.
From restoring and protecting our water catchment area to reintroducing endangered Black Grouse and using bees to monitor biodiversity, the impact of our efforts has now been scientifically quantified.
With the help of Arcadis we calculated our biodiversity footprint using the Mean Species Abundance [per hectare], or MSA.ha, methodology. The MSA represents the intactness of biodiversity relative to its original state. A value of 0 stands for a complete loss of original biodiversity and 1 implicates the area is undisturbed. Multiplying the MSA score by the surface of the area it concerns, gives the MSA.ha score. The MSA is endorsed by the international scientific community (IPBES, IPPC) and is one of the most widely used indicators in biodiversity accounting.
+31 MSA.ha for Spa
Based on historical data we assigned individual MSA baseline scores for the different areas around the Spa site. We then looked at our negative impacts (the factory destroyed some of nature for example) and positive impacts (initiatives for biodiversity protection and restoration). This way we were able to calculate the MSA scores today.
On balance, we found that the positive impacts (improvements in MSA) far outweigh the negative impacts (decline in MSA). The Spa Monopole site achieves an exceptionally impressive +31 MSA.ha result. In other words, thanks to Spa’s presence the biodiversity is actually better off than had Spa not been active in the region.
The below visual summarises the initiatives contributing to an improvement in biodiversity. The “Modus Vivendi”, a public-private partnership in place since 1967, the creation of the “Parc Naturel des Sources” and the restoration of peatlands are particularly relevant. They transformed industrial style monoculture forest management including pine trees, water drainage and pesticide use to a modern approach focussing on diversity in trees, mosses, ferns and mushrooms providing shelter and food for many forest birds and mammals. Halting the draining of the system and restoring peatlands makes them again the sponges they used to be. In addition, healthy peatlands are extremely effective carbon stocks: they are 5 times more efficient event than the Amazon rainforest.
Projects and Partnerships
It is thanks to our many innovative projects and strong public and private partnerships that we have been able to achieve such an incredible result. Even more, our site in Spa achieved biodiversity positivity in 2021, well ahead of the 2030 deadline set by ‘The Global Goal for Nature’, making Spa Monopole a true champion of biodiversity. The Global Goal for Nature defines what is needed to halt and reverse today’s catastrophic loss of nature. It is supported by a number of leading organisations that ask governments to adopt the goal at the international level, which each country, the private sector, communities and others can contribute to achieving.
“I strongly believe biodiversity is the next chapter for us. Not only in Spa but in all the sites we are active.” – Marc du Bois, CEO Spadel
Continuing our Biodiversity Positive Journey
Being recognised as biodiversity positive at Spa Monopole is just the start. We will continue our biodiversity positive journey by looking at the entire value chain, setting quantified biodiversity targets and implementing actions to achieve them. All this will be done in close cooperation with relevant stakeholders. Guiding us in this ambition we will engage with the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN). As a Group, we commit to ensuring that all of our sites – Bru, Carola, Wattwiller, and Devin – will be biodiversity positive by 2025, as part of our commitment to be a positive impact company and become B Corp certified.
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