The accreditation was launched in June to reward pubs that have taken steps to make their outdoor spaces welcoming to wildlife. Sites are scored on how well they have transformed their space to accommodate nature.
At the Castel Hotel in Bishops Castle, Shropshire, the eco-friendly garden is a central focus in summer trade, according to the coaching inn’s owner and manager Henry Hunter.
Hunter said making sure the garden was welcoming for wildlife and useful to business were not mutually exclusive strategies.
“In fact,” he continued, “we find the more wildlife friendly our garden is, the more people come and use it. So, they complement each other.
“A nature-friendly garden is good for business and it’s good for pubs. It doesn't take a huge amount of work. It just means thinking about things a bit more holistically and doing a bit of research, as well as being creative.”
Making positive change
The pub’s garden, which is approximately half an acre, sits on top of the old castle mounds and has around four separately designed areas. As well as an eating and drinking terrace, the garden features a large lawn with benches and flower borders, a stage and an orchard and an area let to grow completely wild.
The team worked with a gardener to make sure each part of the garden was designed to encourage as much wildlife as possible.
This could look like planting wildflowers, putting up bird boxes, constructing insect hotels or growing plants that attracted butterflies. Letting certain parts grow wild also helped attract animals, and Hunter kept an informal record of what wildlife was spotted where.
“Every business, whether it's a pub a corner shop or a car manufacturer, has got to look at its carbon footprint, and try to make some simple changes,” said Warner’s Distillery chief executive Tom Warner.
For a pub, he continued, this could mean making sure glass was always recycled, or a roof was fitted with solar panels. Setting lights on a timer could also save energy and lights could be placed on timed switches to reduce electricity bills.
Flora and fauna
Businesses should also make sure they recycled correctly rather than chucking all rubbish into one black bin bag, said Warner. What’s more, something as simple as a flower box on a window with wildflowers planted in it could help bees move from one forest site to another.
“If you’ve got space for a tree, get a tree in the ground,” he added.
Pubs can apply or be nominated for the Nature Marque scheme on the Warner’s Distillery website where they must fill in a short form.
Hunter also believed any outdoor space of any size could be made as wildlife-friendly as possible. For instance, a tree or bush could be planted in a car park border.
“The knock-on effect is, if a consumer sees their local is doing it right, this might encourage them to do it better at home,” said Warner.
He continued: “All businesses can do little things to try and make a difference and try to change consumer behaviour.
“You might find people decide to drink in a Nature Marque pub over a venue that is not accredited. That’s an extreme example of what might happen, but it would be a pretty awesome thing.”