It’s official! Marwell Zoo is carbon neutral

August 9, 2023
Marwell Wildlife are turning poo from their resident animals into power, providing energy for their Tropical House.

Following the publication of its first Carbon Reduction Report, it is a source of great pride that Marwell Wildlife is able to announce that it has officially achieved carbon neutral status.

In fact, the Marwell estate, which includes Marwell Zoo and surrounding woodland and fields, removed 50 tonnes more CO2 from the air than the total combined emissions produced.

This huge achievement is the result of years of behavioural changes, new ways of creating energy and projects to plant more trees.

Marwell first calculated its carbon footprint in 2008, when it was measured at 1,706 tonnes – the majority of that resulting from electricity use.

Since that initial calculation, Marwell Zoo has been closing in on its goal of having a “net positive” carbon balance, effectively meaning it removes more carbon dioxide from the air than it generates.

To achieve this goal, the charity embarked on a sustainability mission that saw the creation of our Energy for Life: Tropical house, a self-sufficient building for the animals and plants living in it.

The creation of an award-winning energy centre that turns zoo poo into a valuable energy source transformed the way the zoo heats its buildings.

Solar panels were added to buildings and rainwater harvested from the roofs to ensure natural resources don’t go to waste.

These actions combined have helped Marwell to work more sustainably, but restoring the semi-natural ancient woodland around the zoo estate has played a critical role too.

The trees in the surrounding woods, fields and the zoo itself, as well as grassland, absorb carbon from the atmosphere, a process known as sequestering.

Altogether the Marwell estate sequesters 547 tonnes of CO2 per year, 50 tonnes more than the zoo’s 497 tonne carbon footprint for 2022.

This is a massive accomplishment in Marwell’s sustainability journey, but the organisation’s aspirations certainly don’t end there.

The zoo is now training its sights on a goal of Net Zero, which is achieved by measuring the emissions of goods and materials in the supply chain as well as those of the organisation itself.

All of the zoo’s suppliers must have processes in place to actively improve the efficient use of finite resources and need to be able to show they are working to eliminate the release of harmful emissions into the environment.

Marwell’s gift shop now stocks 131 different soft toys made from recycled plastic, tea and coffee is fair trade and the ice cream is organic.

Every purchase made is assessed against the zoo’s ethical sourcing policy ensuring that timber is sustainably sourced, and only products containing sustainable palm oil are sold.

A Net Zero target will be set later this year and Marwell intends to surpass net zero and become a carbon positive organisation.

Dr Duncan East, Head of Sustainability said “At the same time as we ramp up our efforts to surpass net zero, we cannot take our eyes off other environmental and social impacts occurring around the world.

“Marwell is developing a total positive impact plan to ensure we are supporting the regeneration of both the ecosystems and social systems impacted by our activities.

“I would encourage all individuals and organisations to join us on our journey to support nature’s recovery.”

Marwell Wildlife owns and operates the zoo, which is located on the fringe of the South Downs National Park, 8 miles from Winchester.

For tickets and more information, including more about Marwell’s sustainability, conservation and education work, visit www.marwell.org.uk

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