This sense of pride is not unwarranted, as the industry essentially embodies a principle first introduced in the 18th century by Hand Carl von Carlowitz. Carlowitz, an outstanding figure in forestry, was instrumental in promoting a sustainable economic approach to the use of wood as a resource. This principle not only shaped the direction and ethos of forestry, but also resonated with the paper industry. It can be said that sustainability is ingrained in the DNA of the paper industry.
One of the most impressive achievements the paper industry can boast is its remarkable recycling rate. It is far superior to other materials when it comes to recycling, demonstrating an industry-wide commitment to sustainable practices. By recycling, the paper industry saves large amounts of natural resources.
However, there is another aspect of sustainability that we would like to shed light on: biodiversity and, in particular, insect mortality.
The importance of biodiversity and what Krefeld means in this respect
As a Krefeld-based company, we feel very connected to and concerned about the research being done by volunteer Krefeld entomologists on the severe decline in insect populations. This is not only a matter of scientific interest, but an issue that touches us personally as it relates to the health and vitality of our shared environment. The findings of these dedicated researchers, who meticulously collected and analyzed data from 1989 to 2016, paint a sobering picture: overall insect populations have declined by an alarming 76 percent, and by as much as a disturbing 82 percent in mid-summer. These disturbing trends were first brought to light in October 2017 by C. Hallmann of Nijmegen University, who published the Krefeld studies in the prestigious journal PlosOne. The findings were an undeniable wake-up call to the scientific community and beyond, revealing a silent crisis taking place in our ecosystems that could have far-reaching implications. The impact of the Krefeld studies was not limited to our region. Their scientific quality and significance was such that they were soon taken up by other researchers around the world. The data and insights contained in these studies served as a critical resource for scientists seeking to understand, stem, and reverse the alarming decline in insect populations worldwide. The Krefeld studies underscored the urgent need for action and sparked new efforts to protect biodiversity.
Without insects, much of the planet, at least on land and in freshwater, would not function. Insects are food for fish and birds, pollinate countless plants, clean up carcasses and droppings, protect our crops, clean waterways and keep soil healthy.
Biodiversity can be recovered
Because our company is located in Krefeld, Germany, it was inherently affected by the problems associated with its surroundings. Similar to other industrial companies, we were surrounded by extensive brownfield and poor soils adjacent to our production facility.
This was a common scenario for companies in our sector, and we were determined to address this problem in a productive and environmentally friendly way. We began this process by planting these barren areas with sustainable plants. There were two considerations behind this. First, it allowed us to use the unused land in a way that had a positive impact on the environment. Second, these plants served to rejuvenate the quality of the soil over time and create a healthier ecosystem around our facility. Our initiative was not a one-time affair, but a continuous process. Gradually, we added more crops to the original planting. These included several Kornell cherry trees - also known as Tierli trees in Switzerland - which added to the diversity of plant life around our plant site.
These also have a tangible value for the local fauna. In spring, the Cornell cherry, with its nectar- and pollen-rich flowers, blooms alongside the salt willows. These blossoms are not only visually appealing, but also play a crucial role in promoting local biodiversity by attracting a variety of pollinators.
This year marks a special milestone for our green spaces as our honey tree blooms for the first time. The honey tree is not the only one that attracts these industrious insects. We have taken steps to improve our natural environment by planting a number of fruit trees whose blossoms have proven irresistible to a large number of bees. Currently, our lilac tree is also in full bloom, and its bright blossoms are a powerful magnet for butterflies. The sight of these winged creatures fluttering around the lilac tree enchants our surroundings and awakens in us a deep appreciation for the wonders of nature. Moreover, we have embraced the wildness in our surroundings.
Our employees built an oversized insect hotel on their own initiative, creating a haven for various insect species. In the first years of operation, we were disappointed due to the low occupancy rate. However, in the last two years we have seen a remarkable turnaround and the insect hotel is now at full capacity. We are particularly proud of the large number and variety of wild bees that live on our property.
Their population far exceeds that of honeybees and plays a critical role in maintaining the ecological balance in our environment. In addition, we host valuable lacewing species that are widely distributed on the site. Thus, we are not only observers of nature, but actively participate in its care and preservation. Our efforts are aimed at creating a harmonious environment where all species can thrive. From our flowering honey tree and fruit trees that attract numerous bees, to our lilac that attracts butterflies and an insect hotel that is bustling with activity, we celebrate the wildness and diversity of life in all its forms. We remain committed to promoting biodiversity and ensuring that our grounds continue to serve as a haven for these incredible creatures.
The contribution of industry
When I drive to our clients' sites and through industrial areas, it is impossible to miss the vast unused or fallow land and lifeless green spaces (a neutral example is shown in the cover photo).
These seemingly barren areas, especially in an industrial setting, have untapped potential that can be transformed into rich islands of biodiversity. Such a transformation not only enhances the visual appeal of these areas, but also contributes significantly to environmental sustainability.
Industrial areas, because of their remoteness and existing regulations, have a unique potential to serve as biodiversity refuges. These areas, often disregarded as mere concrete jungles, can be transformed into thriving micro-ecosystems. With thoughtful planning and strategic implementation, we can introduce native plant species that attract a variety of insects, birds, and small mammals to promote biodiversity. This also provides the opportunity to create natural carbon sinks that can help offset the environmental impacts of industrial activities.
In this context, companies in the paper and packaging industries are in an advantageous position. Sustainability is not an alien concept for these industries, but an integral part of their business models given the renewable nature of their primary raw materials. As a result, they are more likely to understand the long-term benefits of such initiatives and play a central role in achieving this vision. By incorporating living green spaces on their premises, these companies can take the idea of sustainability one step further. They can demonstrate that profitability and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive, but can coexist harmoniously. By bringing a touch of wilderness to these industrial areas, these companies can pave the way for a more holistic approach to sustainability.
Corporate Strategy & Innovation Baumer hhs