Over recent years, the RSPB has worked to make improvements to the reserve for both wildlife and visitors, including restoring heathland habitat and installing renewable energy generation onsite.

Now, The Lodge has a new visitor attraction, which has opened this summer. Situated within the nature reserve, the café gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy refreshments whilst immersing themselves in the tranquillity of the great outdoors. It forms part of the charity’s wider plans to drive community engagement and connections to nature across the UK.

Designed with wildlife and the environment in mind

The café, designed and built by PKL, is created and stocked with the environment, sustainability and wildlife in mind, from the energy it uses to the food and drink served. This even includes a special bird-friendly coffee, sourced from areas prioritising wildlife preservation. Power is supplied via solar energy, and food is sourced locally, and organically where possible, to reduce the café's carbon footprint and support the local economy.

To minimise its impact on its setting, the windows and doors are fitted with anti-strike glass, allowing birds to avoid potential collisions by seeing their reflections in the glass. The café was also built offsite and transported later in order to not disturb the wildlife.

“We are so pleased to be able to open our eco-friendly café, which I hope all our visitors will enjoy,” explains Peter Bradley, site manager at RSPB The Lodge. “The fact that we have been able to make it so environmentally and wildlife friendly is truly the cherry on the cake, as it really reflects what we as a charity believe in, whilst providing a relaxing and enjoyable setting for our visitors to buy delicious food and drink in a wildlife friendly setting.”

By visiting the café, the guests are not only having a unique experience, but are also actively supporting the organisation’s cause. The funds generated from the café can be reinvested into other conservation projects, making it possible to further fulfil the mission of protecting and conserving wildlife.

Part of a bigger picture

The café has been made possible with part of a £2.8 million loan from Triodos Bank UK, which has also funded similar cafes at three other RSPB nature reserves in England and Wales. 

Triodos recognises the importance of safeguarding nature, and the investment highlights that sustainable business practices and conservation can go hand in hand, creating a cohesive relationship between people and the environment.

“Encouraging engagement with nature, while helping to generate income for the charity, fits perfectly with our ethos of using money to support positive environmental and social change,” adds Phill Bate, acting director of business banking at Triodos Bank UK.

Nature enthusiasts and eco-friendly foodies can now look forward to discovering more sustainable retreats throughout the UK with other new cafés open or soon to open at Dee Estuary in Cheshire, Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire and Conwy, North Wales.