Tough and muddy work by hand: SIG managers implemented two renaturation measures in a former drained wetland in the Lübecker Forst. An extraordinary experience for the volunteers and an important contribution in our struggle against climate change, because wetlands bind hazardous greenhouse gases. At the same time, this effort restored a wild and very special natural biotope which is home to rare and endangered animal and plant species.
A company project meeting out of the ordinary
The fourteen SIG managers already had worked well together before – the SIG Corporate Responsibility Report 2016 outlining the companies 2020 goals and reporting on progress so far. In the meantime the 67-pages- Corporate Responsibility Report was communicated to internal and external stakeholders. A reason to celebrate, discuss and also to meet the other colleagues in person. Indeed, not all of the colleagues stepping down into the mud, digging, hammering and sawing shoulder to shoulder are usually working at the same offices. Even those who knew each other well before now discover new traits and capabilities in their work mates. Now they get together to achieve another joint goal: building two wood planked walls barring the drainage waters in order to withhold them within the former, dehydrated wetland soil.
In former times, wetlands were drained for gaining arable land or to make rough terrain more viable for travelling. Today we know, that every single piece of wetland in the forest can be converted into a real jewel of nature, a hotspot of fascinating and exceptional animals and plants. And in addition, each stretch of peat is a great plus for mitigating climate change, because of its ability to store and contain greenhouse gases like CO2 – if the area is wet enough. Therefore, the SIG-managers will close the two drainage ditches with in total four sheet pile walls so that the water can be retained in the area. “We were looking for more than just a symbolic task”, explains Marco Haussener, Chief Financial Officer, “something which would have a long-term and sustainable impact.”
In the woods
A work far away from the office desk with rubber boots on their feet und and gloved hands, sinking into the mud and being eaten alive by moskitos. „The experience of taking on this muddy, very physical work was a challenge, but also a good team-experience”, thinks Henrik Wagner, Global Sourcing & Procurement Director. “We had a common goal to get these wooden walls done today. And we made it! We see what we have achieved and this makes us proud. And we got a very close insight how important climate change and forest management are.”
One day, one team
Both of these aspects play an important role for SIG – a global provider of carton packaging systems for the food industry. “For example, we make sure to use only green electricity in our global production and to improve products continuously, i.e. by reducing the carbon intensity of new packaging solutions“, explains Michael Hecker, Head of Global Corporate Responsibility at SIG.The material mainly used for SIG’s packaging is carton, so effectively wood is the main raw material. Going out into a peatland forest therefore provides a perfect fit for SIG. The SIG managers wanted to know more of the vital functions of trees and how a forest ecosystem works.
A great effort
Combining the issue of climate change and endangered species protection at their CR-Day activity inspired all of them and in particular Udo Felten, sustainability expert at SIG and forester by profession. „The idea of sphagnum moss and cottongrass growing here once more in between these trees on this stretch of land, that the typical peatland plant life, and even animals may return, makes me proud. And just imagine one fine day, sea eagle and heron are roaming these skies again… how delighted I would be!”
The chances are not bad – especially because the first indication of success is already apparent: water collects in between the sheet walls. This shows that the sheet pile walls seem to be water-proof.
Good job! Challenge mastered!