The harvests of many crops, particularly those of fruit-bearing plants and trees, are heavily dependent on pollination by bees. In addition to the wind, water, birds, bumblebees and wild bees, the honey bee plays a particularly important role in pollination. As a processor of agricultural produce in its Sugar, Starch and Fruit segments, the long-term quantitative and qualitative availability of agricultural commodities forms a fundamental precondition for AGRANA’s business operations. As a result, and as part of its sustainability initiatives, AGRANA started a project in 2016 to protect honey bees. What this involved in detail was the location of ten bee hives at each of the AGRANA production sites in Austria and at its head offices in Vienna.
In 2013, an initiative was launched in the Waldviertel in cooperation with the Lower Austrian Government to protect the local population of bats. Around 25 species of bats live in Austria, many of which are classified as endangered. Approximately 30 farmers, all of them suppliers of potatoes to the AGRANA starch mill in Gmünd, have installed boards for bats to use on their commercial buildings in the summer due to the fact that alternatives such as hollows in old trees and ventilation openings in buildings are becoming increasingly scarce. Installing these boards is a tangible way of helping bats and population counts soon highlighted the success of the project as these alternative dwellings were being increasingly used.
Bird protection – WADERS
In an area defined as having a high biodiversity value by the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands, and in cooperation with the association AURING, AGRANA has established much needed resting places for water birds, particularly waders, along the banks of the open sedimentation basins at the AGRANA sugar refinery in Hohenau an der March, in Austria, which has been decommissioned since 2006. These resting places have since become an interesting destination for excursions by ornithologists.
LITTLE OWL PROJECT
The little owl (Athene noctua) is threatened by extinction in Austria. In order to survive, it requires a landscape characterised by a varied structure such as meadow orchards with hollow trees in a village setting. These structures are typical of the western Mostviertel region in Austria. That’s why efforts are being made to settle little owls here by installing breeding tubes. In 2016, AGRANA took on the patronage of the little owl in the Mostviertel region, acting through its subsidiary AUSTRIA Juice which is based here. AGRANA is financially supporting the purchase and installation of the little owl breeding tubes as well as their maintenance and evaluation by the regionally-active organisation Forum Natur und Artenschutz.