Beneo to transform nearby settling pond into wildlife sanctuary

Beneo is promoting biodiversity near its Oreye, Belgium production plant in collaboration with not-for-profit environmental organizations.

Beneo (Parsippany, NJ and Mannheim, Germany) is promoting biodiversity near its Oreye, Belgium production plant in collaboration with not-for-profit environmental organizations, Natagora and Natagriwal. The organizations are transforming a former settling pond and the surrounding area into a sanctuary for wildlife, including rare birds, beavers, bats, deer, and frog, and contributing to the protection of indigenous and endangered species. 

“This project is our chance to play an active role in restoring some of the natural equilibrium that has been lost over time through human activity,” said Caroline Moitroux, the environment engineer in charge of the biodiversity program at Beneo, in a press release. “Our settling ponds are an environment in which fauna and flora thrive. We see it as our responsibility to preserve and nurture them. As Beneo’s expertise is in food ingredients, we have sought advice from experts in this field. Thanks to our collaborations with not-for-profit environmental organizations Natagora and Natagriwal, we are taking informed action to establish a healthy, natural eco-system in and around our ponds.”

Thirty years ago, the water in the settling pond was used to wash and transport sugar beet to Beneo’s Oreye processing facility. The water was passed through the pond to allow the soil to settle on the pond-bed and the clean water to be re-used. Since then, the pond has been left undisturbed and many species of wildlife have made the pond and surrounding environment their home. Now, all three associations will implement a series of projects that will further develop and enrich the biodiversity of the space. For example, Natagriwal is working with the farmers nearby to establish ecological corridors between crops and wild areas and sustainable practices. 

“The cooperation with the local farmers and Natagriwal is very good and constructive,” said Aurélie Borensztein, field advisor for agro-environmental and climatic methods at Natagriwal. “The various meetings have already led to concrete results on the site. One example are the strips and plots dedicated to the small fauna of the plains.”

Natagora is protecting indigenous flora and fauna within the sanctuary through initiatives such as species auditing and habitat creation. The organization is currently converting a disused electrical cabin for observing and ringing birds. 

“The Hesbaye region is mainly made up of open-field areas where few stagnant bodies of water remain,” said Thierry Ory, project coordinator at Natagora. “Settling ponds therefore become very attractive for biodiversity, especially for birds and dragonflies. All parties are now convinced of the possibilities of coexistence between industrial processes and the enhancement of nature.”

The area extends to 30 hectares and includes four other ponds that are still in active use as settling ponds for the water used to wash chicory roots that are processed afterwards at the facility.