EMD Serono | Putting the Focus on Pollinators

Pollinators play a key role in our ecosystems, and by devoting time and resources to pollinator support, the corporate sector can help ensure the health of these important populations. Healthcare and biotechnology company EMD Serono is one such corporation making a commitment to protect pollinators. EMD Serono’s Research and Development Institute, located about 25 miles outside Boston, Massachusetts, is the site of a WHC Gold-Certified program. This facility includes almost 40 acres of wildlife habitat and encompasses grasslands, wetlands and pollinator habitats that help contribute to employee knowledge and support the company’s dedication to corporate conservation. 

In 2018, the company conducted an assessment to better understand the conditions on-site, with the goal of establishing a program that would support pollinator species across landscapes. Of particular concern is the global loss of honeybees, so efforts are focused on supporting bees and other pollinators by providing forage plants, sources of water and places to sun and nest. While eastern bumble bees are the species most commonly seen on-site, EMD Serono also supports other pollinators and flying insects that play a critical role in the ecosystem. 

Through their grassland projects, the team’s goal is to enhance the area to create habitat for pollinators. EMD Serono worked with partner Best Bees Co. to assess the area, determining pollinator forage type, diversity and capacity. By sampling honey from a research apiary installed on-site, the team is able to perform genetic profiling in order to determine the best plants to meet pollinators’ needs. EMD Serono has also made changes to its forest edge management practices, such as utilizing trees that are likely to fall for snags and log habitats 

A recently constructed savannah meadow creates forage resources and habitat for pollinators like ground-nesting bees. The area was formerly a lawn and parking area that had been disturbed by nearby construction, so the team worked to restore the soil and plant xeriscape grasses, flowers and ornamental trees, eventually adding wildflowers to provide a wide array of forage for pollinators. 

Employee engagement is key to any successful project, and EMD Serono’s employee education initiative, Project Pollinate, utilizes the on-site habitats to teach employees best practices for supporting pollinators. Learners can then take those skills to their own backyards. Through guided tours of the habitat, a self-guided audio tour, guest speakers, hands-on learning sessions and more, employees gain a broader understanding of the conservation efforts taking place at EMD Serono. Additionally, they are empowered to initiate and maintain their own pollinator projects at home. 

Not only does this project educate about the impact of pollinators, but it also gives participants an opportunity to shape the habitats and environments around them. While the audience is primarily employees, the project has also seen the participation of visitors, contractors and corporate peers. EMD Serono recognizes the value of nature and landscaping to enrich employees’ lives, which is why the company is dedicated to creating a “living landscape” with a purposeful design that helps employees and others understand their role in the environment. 

The reimagined campus has become a tangible and positive wellness experience for employees, guests and visitors, with direct access to trees, and landscapes designed to connect occupants to the natural world,” said Casey-Lee Bastien, Landscape Architect with BSC Group and member of the conservation project team. “The success of our program and process have had ripple effects in the community, including staff making changes in their home landscapes and proudly discussing and sharing their experience. Contractors have brought family to see the campus they work on because it is a project with a story, a purpose, and real values.” 

These efforts to support pollinators have had a positive impact on other aspects of their operations. “Our pollinator program has affected all aspects of site work, from water reclamation to lighting, to genetic pollen forage profiling, habitat artwork and every piece of landscape on our site,” said Bastien. “Habitat is not something to put in a box.” EMD Serono even worked with contractors to alter their practices, encouraging them to replace gas-powered tools with manual and battery-powered equipment in order to have a positive influence on the landscaping industry as a whole. “That sort of change isn’t easy; it has to be repeated and re-preached,” Bastien explained. “It must be visible in every interaction because our leaders, designers and practitioners are learning and adapting together.”  

By creating a thriving corporate habitat that prioritizes pollinators and sets a standard for habitat enrichment, EMD Serono is demonstrating the important role the private sector plays in supporting wildlife and habitat needs. 

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Quick Facts

Site Name:EMD Pollinator Habitat & Education Program
Category:Member Spotlight
Tags:Awareness and Community Engagement, grasslands, Member Spotlight, pollinators, wetlands
Site Location:Billerica, Massachusetts
Partners:Best Bees Co., BrightView Landscape Contractors, BSC Group Inc., Erland Construction, Haymaker Ko., Urban Beekeeping Laboratory
Certification Since:2020
Certification Level:Gold Certified
WHC Index Link:Learn more about the program
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