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19th February 2021

A wintery cocktail sprang to mind as we discussed this species, so we thought why not rework a recipe we think would be worthy of the name… You could skip to that part below or give it a minute and learn a little more about the real thing.

Snowberry is in fact a pesky non-native shrub…

Like many invasive non-native species, a quick Google search of Snowberry will throw up various results centred around when and where to plant it, how to look after it in the common garden, and even where to buy it. Also like many other invasives, the Snowberry shrub was introduced to Europe in the early 19th century from North America, captured in botanist’s notebooks.

It’s a deciduous shrub that produces pink flowers in the summer, but it’s the somewhat elegant, white, almost pearl-like berries it produces in the autumn and persist through the winter that catch the eye.

So, its attractive – check.

Not native to the UK – check.

Can it outcompete native species? Does it rapidly and successfully spread? Check, and check.

Snowberry can form a dense thicket, suppressing the growth of other species and can grow prolifically, so much so that it is listed under category two of the London Invasive Species Initiative (LISI). This categorises it under species of high impact or concern present at specific sites that require attention (control, management, eradication etc). The Woodland Trust also notes that non-native species such as Snowberry, Himalayan balsam and Rhododendron are encroaching into our woodlands and competing with our native plants.

The Snowberry shrub can provide a food source for game birds in the winter, but despite wildlife enjoying a belly-full, its berries are in fact poisonous to humans. It can cause dizziness and vomiting, and even slight sedation in children. We know home-schooling is tough, but please don’t try this at home!

Ebsford are seeing more and more sites overrun with the shrub and we’re assisting with clearance and eradication as we do best. Treatments vary from mechanical and herbicidal eradication, so if you do happen to come across it as a nuisance on your site, we’d be happy to conduct a survey and outline your best options.

So now that you know a little more about Snowberry and that you can’t actually eat it, here is a cocktail recipe simply inspired by a pretty name, a bit of cold weather and longing for a fancy drink!

1 part coconut cream

1 part Blue Curacao

1 part white rum

Lashings of ice

Whizz everything in a blender!

Dip the rim of your glass into a small amount of honey, then dip into desiccated coconut for a truly snowy finish.

(Edible glitter would be fab in the festive season!)

12th February 2021

In the UK alone we spend £650 million on Valentines gifts, ranging from flowers and chocolates to jewellery and perfume and we don’t often realise the environmental impact this one day has. We love a good celebration but is there a way we could share the love and still take reducing our carbon footprint seriously?

       1. Valentine’s Day Cards

On Valentine’s day we send around 25 million cards, which means chopping down a ton of trees, around 8,000. Worldwide this one day has a massive contribution to deforestation and without trees we’d be in trouble, they support diverse ecosystems, turn carbon dioxide into oxygen and help slow the rate of global warming. Look out for recycled paper cards, or better yet, send an e-card. It’s a definitely green alternative for the future.

       2. Put more thought into that bouquet

The environmental impact of shipping cut flowers around the world is huge. While flowers would usually be shipped on passenger planes across most of the year, in the few weeks before Valentine’s day we see a huge increase in flights dedicated to transporting flowers alone, increasing our air travel emissions. Look out for locally grown flowers or go for a house plant that will stand the test of time.

       3. Shop for ethical chocolates!

Chocolate is a real Valentines favourite and our go-too gift, but how does our love of chocolate impact our planet? Well, it is often made with ingredients that aren’t grown organically such as milk powder which contributes to approximately 4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and palm oil, which contributes to deforestation and threatens rainforest biodiversity and animal habitats. Give farmers a fair price and choose fair trade and organic chocolates grown without the use of harmful pesticides.

       4. Go organic with your bottle of fizz

In recent years, the demand for prosecco has gone through the roof, meaning vineyards are rapidly expanding to keep up. Also, mass production methods use industrial pesticides and herbicides, reducing biodiversity and polluting the air locals breathe. But we do have another option, raise a glass to pesticide-free farming and choose organic and biodynamic wines, a greener alternative for just a few extra pounds.

       5. Be a responsible shopper

Around Valentine’s day people feel under more pressure to make purchases they usually wouldn’t and in just a few clicks you can buy almost anything. This means more delivery vans on the road causing increased levels of air pollution and a ton of wasteful packaging, impacting the earths ecosystems. It’s hard not to order online in lockdown but cut your carbon footprint by shopping as local as possible.

Our spending habits and the amount of waste we produce all year round is an issue, but even more so during this holiday, Easter and Christmas.

Ebsford always have the environment in mind when delivering low-impact and sustainable solutions, but we’re keen to extend that consideration into our daily lives. We hope you will join Silty in his mission to reduce our impact.

06th November 2020

Movember is well underway here at Ebsford. This year, we are participating in the incredibly inventive and invaluable fundraiser, helping to raise awareness for men’s health.

Those who can, are growing their most impressive moustaches across the month and the rest are ‘Moving for Movember’, each walking or running a distance of 60km to represent the 60 men lost each hour to suicide across the world. We also have a ‘Mo Your Own Way’ wildcard entry Alex Briant, who has dusted off his bike to cycle through the month, all for a good cause.

Check out our Assistant Site Manager Michael Reardons tache after just a couple of days! We are definitely eager to see the end product…

Here’s a quick refresher on what Movember is all about. Movember are the leading charity changing the face of men’s health, they use donations to fund ground-breaking research and launch programs designed with men in mind.

This year has been tough on us all and 2020 has hit men’s health hard, ¾ of suicides are men and that figure is only increasing with last year’s numbers unfortunately growing by more than 10%. Men’s health is not always at the forefront of fundraising so putting a focus on Mental health and suicide prevention, Prostate cancer, and Testicular cancer across November in such a creative way is benefitting us more than you could imagine. By 2030, Movember aim to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25% and they can only do this with the help of Mo Bros and Mo Sisters, like you and I.

Much like growing a moustache, donations either come thick and fast or most of the time slow and sparse, so if you would like to give our team some extra motivation and would be generous enough support us, follow the link to view our team page: https://uk.movember.com/team/2377575

There is still time to sign up and do your bit for Movember, so let’s change the face of men’s health together.

A special thanks to our Resource Manager Fran for getting us involved.

23rd October 2020

Happy World Fish Migration Day! Today with the World Fish Migration Foundation we reflect on the importance of free-flowing rivers and migratory fish.

Protecting wildlife and improving habitat is at the heart of what we do here at Ebsford. Many migratory fish species are becoming critically endangered or threatened because of human interference, some of the main causes are historic weirs, barriers, and sluices, preventing the natural flow of rivers and fish’s usual migratory routes.

Fish species across the world depend on free-flowing rivers to reproduce, feed, and complete their life cycles. Restoring the natural processes of rivers, taking out artificial barriers, putting back meanders and the variety of habitat has its benefits not only for wildlife, it is vital to our wellbeing too. Migratory fish are crucial in creating healthy and productive river systems, are key link in the food chain and provide a significant supply of food and income globally. Because of this, we need to play our part in protecting the species and supporting future generations of wildlife.

You may have seen one of our projects, the Harraby weir removal, live streamed in July to raise awareness of the many out of use and abandoned dams affecting river systems across Europe. Our site team carefully removed the disused artificial barrier on the River Petteril, allowing fish to move more freely along this section of the river. Such a small adjustment can make a huge impact on the health of a river. This is just one of many projects to improve fish passage that we are proud to be a part of. Take a look at our videos in the Media section to find out more.

We are always honoured to work in partnership with our clients and play a role in such a significant movement. One day a river can seem quiet and the next it can be bursting with activity from 1000’s of spawning fish, so it’s important we continue to give species the habitats they need to adapt and thrive.

13th October 2020

Ebsford Environmental are working in partnership with London Borough of Lewisham and The Friends of Beckenham Place Park to manage an Azolla issue at Stumps Hill Pond, part of Beckenham Place Park.

Azolla is a floating water fern, one of the UK’s most invasive non-native aquatic species; proscribed under Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and it is an offence to allow the plant to spread into the wild.

The plant forms a thick and dense mat over the surface of a pond preventing sunlight reaching the water and depleting oxygen resulting in a catastrophic loss of native diversity. Spreading extremely easily through the transference of organic material, the fragmented nature of the plant means that minute parts can easily regenerate and be transported between water courses, inadvertently on boots, on fishing or pond dipping equipment, dogs and perhaps most hard to control – wildfowl.

Like all ferns, in autumn the plant releases thousands of spores, meaning transmission of the species is almost impossible within the immediate vicinity. 

Mechanical control of the plant is often equally damaging to the biodiversity of the pond and it is almost impossible to avoid damage to banks. Stumps Hill Pond was regenerated last year by Ebsford with banks recreated, and planting carried out, so we were very keen to limit any damage to these. The use of Glyphosate based chemicals can be employed for control, however there is increasing demand to limit the use of chemicals within sensitive and public locations.

Ebsford were approached by Lewisham with the floating fern issue, which we quickly ascertained was extremely serious. A dense mat of azolla covered the entire surface of the pond and had started to terrestrialise the marginal damp areas of the newly created pond edges. 

Within the wider Beckenham Place Park, there is an extensive new lake complex which it was extremely important to try and keep azolla free.

Ebsford opted to manage the weed naturally using a Bio Control agent – a north American weevil which predates the plant in its native range. A seed population of the weevil Stenopelmus rufinasus is released onto the mat and as the population explodes the weed is depleted. The weevil relies exclusively on Azolla and are host specific, meaning they are completely safe and bio secure – posing no risk to native ecosystems. Because of its long occupancy, the weevil is now considered by DEFRA to be ordinarily resident and therefore no licensing is required.

With the help of local volunteers, a staggered seed weevil population was released at Stumps Hill in July 2020, over a period of 4 weeks. By week 2 a significant reduction in both density and extent of the mat, with clear water starting to show and within 8 weeks the Azolla was almost completely gone from the surface of the pond with clear open water visible.

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