As one of the largest landowners in Leeds, the University has a responsibility to take biodiversity seriously. With a diverse combination of urban areas, residential sites, woodland and sports grounds, we maintain a variety of habitats to meet user needs across the city. In 2011, with the introduction of our first Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), we have worked with a number of partners both internally and externally to ensure that we continue to have a net positive effect on the biodiversity of our estate.
It is becoming more important that all public bodies, including universities, plan for and consider biodiversity on their grounds. In its ‘Sustainable Development in Higher Education’ strategy the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) committed to promote sustainable estates management, including biodiversity. At the same time the Learning and Skills Council’s (LSC) strategy ‘From Here to Sustainability’ also identifies biodiversity as a key part of their principles and actions. The Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) identify nine benefits for universities that have an active biodiversity agenda:
- Improved reputation and green image
- Potential to develop partnerships between staff and students
- Opportunities for education and curriculum greening
- Campus contribution to healthy living and wellbeing
- Enhanced volunteering opportunities for students
In 2016 we launched our new ‘Biodiversity Standard‘ which builds on the previous plan and provides an overarching strategy for how we manage all of our properties as well as strengthening our position in the city and across the sector as exemplars of urban biodiversity practices. We will be launching a revised Biodiversity Action Plan for the city campus in early 2017.