The Materials Processing Institute has planted an orchard as part of long-term plans to improve the biodiversity of its extensive grounds.

Part of an initiative to reverse the rapid national decline of orchards, staff worked alongside volunteers from Tees Valley Wildlife Trust to plant 50 apple and plum trees at its Teesside campus.

The national research and innovations centre also plans to construct a new wildlife pond and convert the site of a former pond into a bog garden.

It has also commissioned a local sawmill to produce handmade wooden furniture so staff and campus tenants can better use the grounds to relax, lunch or even work outside as part of its mental health and wellbeing strategy.

The Institute will not only benefit from the fruits produced but hopes the orchard, planted over two days, will attract important pollinators such as bees and wasps as well as providing a rich habitat for other insects and birds.

Since the early 1900s, there has been a 56 per cent decline in orchards in England and Wales, so as part of the Queens Green Canopy activities, a tree planting scheme was launched to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.

This aligned closely with the Institute’s own biodiversity plan and the orchard has been named ‘The Jubilee Orchard’ and is to be incorporated into the national Queen’s Green Canopy map – a digital record of all Jubilee tree planting projects.

Dan van den Toorn of Tees Valley Wildlife Trust said: “We were delighted to support the Institute in proactively tackling habitat loss and species decline by turning its lawned area into a thriving habitat for bees, birds, and butterflies, while at the same time creating a very pleasant space for its staff and other businesses based at the Institute to enjoy.”

Chris McDonald, Chief Executive of the Materials Processing Institute, said: “As an organisation, we are dedicated to reducing carbon emissions within the foundation industries through a range of innovations, including new technologies, innovative or recycled materials and by-products, and the more efficient use of energy.

“As we seek to improve the environment by transforming the industrial landscape, it is important that the Institute also improves the biodiversity of our own campus to further increase sustainability.”