Working with veterans to build biodiversity

12 April 2024

Colleagues from across Leonardo's UK sites worked alongside veterans to plant 4,000 saplings in the Usk Valley in Wales, creating hedgerows to build biodiversity for decades to come.

The role of trees in absorbing CO2 is well known, with the UK Government setting a target to plant 30,000 hectares of woodland in the UK by March 2025. Like trees, hedgerows capture CO2 from the air and store it in their biomass and in the soils beneath, whilst providing habitats, corridors and food for wildlife.

However, in the last 75 years there has been a 50% decrease in UK hedgerows, leading to Natural England setting a 335,000 km hedgerow expansion target, and the Committee on Climate Change aiming for a 40% increase by 2050.

Our team embarked on this initiative in collaboration with Carma and the Green Task force, creating hundreds of days of employment for veterans, whilst helping biodiversity in the area. Hawthorn, field maple and hazel trees were carefully selected for the hedgerows, which act like cities for wildlife, providing food and shelter for diverse species. In addition to the 4,000 saplings planted yesterday, a further 2000 saplings will be planted by the veterans in the coming days, taking the total 6,000. Plans are in place to plant a further 4,000 saplings later this year.

Jim Holland, Co-founder of Carma said: “We had a tremendous day planting hedgerows with Leonardo, the team turned up and endured all types of weather to plant nearly 4,000 trees in record time – with the remaining 2,000 to be planted by veterans in the coming days. Connecting with nature, connecting with each other, creating biodiversity gain and supporting veterans all with a smile on their face. As an ex-serviceman myself, connecting veterans with nature and companies committed to making a difference is important. Thank you to everyone who got involved!”

Carma specialise in helping organisations to access opportunities to make a positive environmental and societal impact and work in partnership with the Green Task Force and the PATT Foundation to provide positive pathways of employment for veterans and service leavers.

The Green Task Force has confirmed that working in a natural environment can have a positive effect on veterans’ mental health. As a member of the Armed Forces Covenant, Leonardo is committed to honouring and supporting the Armed Forces Community, supporting the employment of veterans, recognising military skills and qualifications in their recruitment and selection process.

Speaking about the day of tree planting, Ben Knight, our Head of Sustainability, said: “Initiatives such as this are a fantastic example of how businesses can create a positive impact on both people and the natural world. We are all interconnected with nature, but in the UK we have seen a 65% decline in priority species since 1970, so any action that can help restore nature is crucial. Working with Carma and The Green Task Force also ensures that skills and employment are available to veterans when they leave service – whilst access to nature is well known to be so important for wellbeing.”

Sustainability in Action

Sustainability in Action

The document details Leonardo' priorities, defined by a set of sustainability targets that are measurable and monitored constantly. This commitment is also implemented through Leonardo’s Sustainability Plan projects.

Sustainability Statement from Leonardo in the UK

In the UK, Leonardo is committed to sustainability as a force for business transformation and a driver of our activities. Our sustainability strategy is set across these three core pillars: People, Planet and Prosperity.

Sustainability Statement from Leonardo in the UK