Probioprise CASE STUDIES

The Probioprise cases are designed to raise issues concerning the interaction of SMEs with biodiversity. Ideally, they will identify research issues, the resolution of which will make the firms more effective agents of biodiversity retention and enhancement. The Cases are not intended to give solutions to either business or biodiversity conservation problems, although the views of the subjects of the cases are important.

Aranyponty Fishponds

This fish farm is located in Fejér County, Hungary, in a Natura 2000 and Ramsar site. It currently employs 70 people. The principal business is the supply of live fish for stocking sport-fishing lakes. This accounts for 70% of its fishery production, with the balance going into the human food chain. The enterprise has been gradually diversifying into other areas, including organic production, tourism and ecotourism. Tourism could account for up to 40% of total in ten years time. The enterprise has good relations with the National Park Authority and the National Nature Conservation Authority. The enterprise believes that is has a generally positive environmental impact and that biodiversity would be lower without management of the fishponds, which prevents them from silting up and becoming progressively vegetated. Read more.

De Boerinn Family Farm and Activity Centre

This is a family farm in the Netherlands that is diversifying. It is centrally located between Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Originally a dairy farm, this side of the business is no longer profitable. The enterprise has diversified into a range of recreational activities and they currently have about 25,000 visitors per year. The enterprise employs seven full-time staff and fifty part-time staff. They are considering developing nature-based tourism activities. Planning and water management regulations are likely to have a big impact on the direction in which diversification goes. Read more.

Echinades Fish Farm

A small fish farm that is raising Sea Bass and Sea
Bream. It is located close to Astakos on the west coast of Greece amongst the Echinades islands and borders a Natura 2000 site. It currently produces about 400 tonnes of fish per year. The farm purchases fish fry from a nearby hatchery and keeps these for about 18 months before selling to wholesalers. One of the biggest environmental impacts of fish farms is through the consumption of fish meal that may be sourced in other parts of the world. Echinades is involved in research on the effectiveness of plant based alternatives. The enterprise is currently exploring the opportunities for fish-based tourism. Read more.

EcoServe, Ireland

A small consultancy firm based just outside Dublin with three full-time and one part-time staff member. It carries out a range of consultancy work in marine and freshwater ecosystems for private and government clients. A significant proportion of its work involves Environmental Impact Assessments. It is currently playing a role in two EU projects, MARBEF (Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning EU Network of Excellence) and MARBENA (Marine Biodiversity research in the European economic area and the Newly Associated states). Read more.

FIELDFARE International Ecological Development

Fieldfare operates in the UK and Ukraine as a financial intermediary. It is registered in the UK as public limited company with two employees in the UK. It operates in the Ukraine through a 94% owned subsidiary, Salix Ltd. Salix has five full-time employees and up to six seasonal workers. Its overall aim is to bring private investment to support ecologically sustainable development, but not only to become a biodiversity-oriented company whose shares are freely traded, but a beacon to others. Salix is developing eco-tourism opportunities in the lower Danube delta. Read more.

Heylen bvba

A small enterprise that provides ecological management services to protected areas in Belgium. Established in 1995, the enterprise employs 9 people and has a turnover of about €1.4 million. The enterprise possesses substantial capital assets as they own most of their own machinery, including four crawler excavators, two adapted crawler dumpers and eight tractors. Their activities include: mowing grasslands and wetlands to enhance plant biodiversity, forestry in fragile ecosystems; the layout of ponds, marshes and swamps; and design of infrastructure in natural areas, including fencing, drainage and boardwalks. There are currently opportunities for the enterprise to diversify into areas such as machinery design and water filtering equipment. Read more.


A small, environmental consulting and forest management enterprise in the Algarve, Portugal. The enterprise advises landowners on forest management and also carries out ecological management work. It has three staff, but makes use of a wide network of specialists for particular pieces of work. The enterprise has a strong commitment to biodiversity in its work and promotes the benefits that can flow from biodiversity-rich habitats such as reduction in the incidence of disease, lower drought stress and greater resistance to forest fires. Much of the work they undertake is funded ultimately from European Union and Portuguese government sources. Read more.

Kolban and Taxus Sawmills

A comparative study was carried out of two sawmills in Poland. Both enterprises are located in Malopolska Province, close to Nowy Sącz. It is a mountainous region of Poland. The Kolbon sawmill has annual revenues of approximately €1.75 million, and Taxus is somewhat smaller. Both businesses were initially created for purely economic reasons with no particular environmental motivations. Both enterprises source their timber from state forests which implement sustainable forest management. Kolbon is the more growth-oriented enterprise and is looking to exploit international markets. Read more.

Koli National Park

This was a case study not of an individual enterprise, but of the role the Koli National Park authority in promoting local SMEs that work inside and outside the protected area. Koli NP is located in the east of Finland and has considerable cultural significance in addition to its biodiversity. The park is administered by the Finnish Forest Research Institute. The park authority plays a significant role in fostering and encouraging the local enterprises. These enterprises undertake a range of ecological management, educational and tourism-based activities. Read more.

Nordic Shell

Nordic Shell Holding AS was established in 2003. This is the holding company for two other firms that produce, or will produce shellfish. Nordic Shell Production AB, whish is the focus of this study, is located at Lysekil in Sweden. It produces Blue Mussels (Mytilus edulis). In addition to the directors, the enterprise currently has 10 employees and is producing over 3000 tonnes of mussels per year. This is set to rise. The enterprise also derives income from the role the mussels play, through the consumption of algae, in reducing nitrate levels in the water. The local authority at Lysekil, which under the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directives has an obligation to reduce the nitrate levels, signed a contract with Nordic Shell to remove 39 tonnes of nitrogen as 3,300 tonnes of mussels. This is believed to be the first contract of its type. The income Nordic Shell derives from this agreement is less important than the role in played in winning permission to site their farm near Lysekil. Read more.

Occombe Farm

Occombe Farm is an organic farm in Devon, UK. It run as part of the trading arm of the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, which itself functions as the Countryside management arm of the Torbay Unitary Authority. The farm raises cattle and pigs and there is a shop and café attached to the farm. It also runs educational activities for schoolchildren. There are three Sites of Special Scientific Interest on the farm. Biodiversity conservation is central to the Mission, Aims and Targets of the Trust. These range from direct management targets managed by the Trust (such as Occombe Farm) through to more generalised targets about raising public awareness of environmental issues. Read more.

Oh! Légumes Oubliés

This enterprise is an organic farm dedicated to producing a number of species and varieties of fruit and vegetables which today have been ‘forgotten’ (Oublié) or are no longer commonly grown. The farm is located near Bordeaux in France. Bernard Lafon founded the business in 1977 and still manages it. He started by converting the traditional farm in the grounds of the 18th century Château de Belloc, which had belonged to his grandparents and parents, into a centre aimed at promoting the principle of ‘food diversity’. Today there are four main areas of activity: an organic farm, a cannery and shop and an educational and tourist centre. Together these employ 15 staff. The annual turnover is €1million. Thirty per cent of the firm’s production is exported, mainly to North America, northern Europe and Asia. Read more.

Penn Ar Bed

This enterprise, based in Brittany, France harvests and processes sea weed. It has six employees and an annual turnover of €400,000. The enterprise has five main areas of activity: organic manures or fertilizers; environmental products (including an ecological solution to airborne dust pollution); cosmetics; human and animal dietetics; and homeopathic medicines. The enterprise has a strong research base. It holds three patents and is in the process of developing two others. Penn Ar Bed has a strong commitment to the sustainable harvesting of the seaweed on which it relies. Read more.

Semillas Silvestres

This is a Spanish enterprise specialising in the sale of rarer Iberian seeds. The firm employs seven full-time staff at its base just north of Córdoba and as many as 20 more in the field during the collection season. The technical basis of the company is the expertise of its founder, Cándido Gávlez Ramìrez, who has an academic background in botany. He describes his firm as: “…a business project based on Iberian phytogenetic diversity”. Most seeds are collected in the wild. These find application not only in ornamentation, but also in forestry and reclamation, where the ability to supply the appropriate indigenous species to replant disturbed earthworks is a market advantage as well as positively contributing to biodiversity conservation. The business is prosperous and growing steadily, with the main reported constraint being bureaucratic controls over access to suitable collection sites. Read more.

Thomas and Irene Schneider

This is a small forest consultancy enterprise run by a husband and wife team in the Black Forest, Baden Würtenburg, Germany. It is engaged in three main activities: the development of management plans for private forest owners; forest valuation; and the certification of timber in sawmills. While the enterprise is committed to promoting the sustainable management of forests, there is not a great emphasis on biodiversity conservation in the overall forest management system of which consultants like Thomas Schneider form a part. Read more.