Wonder: A feeling of amazement, admiration or awe, caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar
Holkham is incredibly excited to launch WONDER, an ambitious estate-wide sustainability and conservation action plan setting out ambitious goals to be achieved over the next five, ten and twenty years.
Holkham’s Vision is to be the UK’s most pioneering and sustainable rural estate. One part of this Vision is to protect, enhance and revitalise Holkham for the benefit of future generations. WONDER focusses on three core objectives, committing Holkham to:
1) Pioneer environmental gain - increasing natural capital every year with every decision made.
2) Champion low carbon living - become a carbon negative estate by 2040.
3) Tread lightly to stamp out waste - reducing the amount of non-recycled waste generated by 10% each year for the next ten years.
For more information and to watch the launch film, visit: holkham.co.uk/wonder
Following the launch of WONDER, Holkham will release the results of an in-depth analysis of their carbon emissions after completing an audit of the land-based and leisure businesses. This will be followed by the release of their Biodiversity audit next September. Data is incredibly important to ensure the goals, and projects helping to achieve these ambitions, are informed and measurable.
Set within 25,000 acres on the majestic north Norfolk coast, Holkham offers a diverse plethora of landscapes and is home to a rich variety of wildlife and biodiversity. The estate has already made advancements in renewable energy with: a 100-acre solar farm; a number smaller roof-mounted solar systems; an anaerobic digester; and biomass, ground and heat source heating systems. Holkham is also already respected for delivering sustainable food production - including reducing tillage; planting cover crops; extending the crop rotation; bringing livestock back into the rotation - as well as delivering biodiversity enhancements and habitat provision across the farms and the Holkham National Nature Reserve. Through WONDER Holkham is pushing the boundaries further still and setting new standards.
Tom Coke, 8th Earl of Leicester, explains: “Sustainability is not a new phenomenon at Holkham, quite the opposite in fact. Sustainability has been front of mind for hundreds of years. From the pioneering agricultural approaches of my ancestor ‘Coke of Norfolk’ back in the late 18th century, to present day investments, innovative sustainable practices are, simply put, a natural Holkham behaviour. I, together with my team, look forward to continuing this sustainability journey – one that will help ensure Holkham is enhanced and revitalised to benefit future generations and for a healthier planet.”
By prioritising sustainability in everyday behaviours and decisions across the estate, WONDER will enable Holkham to connect habitats, enhance the biodiversity of landscapes, develop science led innovations, deliver responsible construction, make operations leaner and greener, phase out single use plastics and minimise waste. From forestry, farming and conservation to game, horticulture, leisure and hospitality, every member of every team across the estate is essential to the success of WONDER.
Spearheading the approach towards sustainability across the estate is Sue Penlington (Holkham’s dedicated Sustainability and Learning Manager). Sue carried out an initial estate sustainability report across all Holkham businesses during 2020. As well as shedding light on the fantastic things that are already being done, her report identified ways each area could improve, leading to the creation of WONDER’s three key themes. As Sue explains, “Sustainability is not just about rubbish and bins. It is about leaving Holkham, the surrounding countryside, villages and communities in a better state for our grandchildren and their children too.”
Jake Fiennes, Holkham Nature Reserve Director adds: “More and more we hear of the importance of the natural world and how it sustains us and protects us. Species loss, habitat degradation and climate change are all things we need to address with immediate effect. Enhancement and protection of the natural world are key values we all need to uphold in working with our partners, neighbours and visitors.”
In this first year of the Wonder plan, Holkham is underway with the following projects:
PIONEERING ENVIRONMENTAL GAIN
• The Great Farm Project – a trial farm site to rejuvenate depleted soils, establish sustainable food production and ensure that alongside, wildlife conservation can work efficiently and productively.
• North Norfolk Farming Partnership – working with neighbouring farmers and tenants to encourage them to farm in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way, providing habitats and biodiversity alongside food production. Holkham’s conservation team has undertaken farm surveys of birds and hedgerows for tenants to identify areas in which they can improve biodiversity.
• Reduced grass mowing – leaving specific areas uncut which provides a food source for important pollinators, homes for insects and small mammals, as well as improving the diversity of plant life present. This year, the area of mowed grass has reduced by a massive eight acres and in turn, reduced fossil fuel usage and saved time.
• Autumn bird trails on the Holkham National Nature Reserve – two new trails, the Bluetail trail and the Warbler trail, have been cut into the reed bed to provide better opportunities for visitors to see and engage with overwintering and migratory birds.
• Habitats and nest boxes – installing new nest boxes in and around newly developed properties, and habitat piles in the woodlands in Holkham Park to improve biodiversity.
CHAMPIONING LOW CARBON LIVING
• Baseline data – Holkham is undertaking a carbon, waste, energy and water audit of all businesses to identify areas for improvement. This data will help to set annual targets to reduce waste and increase recycling rates across the estate. Holkham are also undertaking a detailed carbon audit of the farm and woodland, including the areas which are managed for wildlife so that they can understand how much carbon is taken in and stored, as well as focus operations on reducing Holkham’s carbon footprint.
• Blacksmiths Yard – delivering sustainable enhancements to new houses being built including bat boxes, swift nests, energy efficiencies via insulation, and use of other sustainable materials.
• Good Journey – promoting visits using public transport and cycling and walking throughout the estate.
• Green Tourism Awards – Holkham Enterprises (the visitor businesses) and Pinewoods holiday park are undergoing an assessment to hopefully join The Victoria Inn as holders of the Green Tourism Award.
• Low carbon weddings – working with couples and suppliers to reduce the carbon footprint of weddings through reducing the waste produced, using local, seasonal produce, and offsetting transport through planting trees on the estate.
TREAD LIGHTLY, STAMP OUT WASTE
• Reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink and refuse – reducing the waste produced, improving recycling rates and not sending any waste to landfill are all projects being worked on across the estate. Holkham is undertaking a feasibility study to turn waste sawdust from their carpentry workshop into briquettes to heat local homes, as well as working out how best to deal with compostable waste. Recycling bins have been installed in The Courtyard and by the Woodland Play Area, and they have a compactor on-site which reduces the number of bins used. The Victoria Inn now sends food waste to an anaerobic digester where it is turned into electricity and compost, rather than going to landfill.
• Phasing out single-use plastic – Holkham is auditing the cafes and catering concessions with the aim of removing items made from single-use plastic and those which cannot be recycled. So far, all drinks are in cans, including water, and the coffee cups and other packaging are made from plants, not plastic.
Holkham will report annually on these projects and progress towards the goals.
Peter Mitchell, Holkham Managing Director concludes, “In late-2019 we set Holkham on a path towards fulfilling a Vision to become the UK’s most pioneering and sustainable rural estate. The launch, now, of Holkham’s Sustainability and Conservation Strategy illustrates one important part of that Vision. We are guardians of amazing natural resources, stunning landscapes, and breath-taking biodiversity. We chose the word Wonder to remind us that understanding, protecting, improving, enjoying and sharing these assets are central to our commitments to sustainability and conservation. There is excitement and ambition across the estate to make a big difference over the next 20 years.”