Following the approval of the University’s Biodiversity Standard, the Sustainability Service asked for volunteers to help bring the organisation closer to achieving the ambition of becoming an exemplar of urban biodiversity. To do this, volunteers were assigned a section of the campus to survey and to identify locations that may have potential to improve the habitat value to support urban wildlife. These findings would then be used to start developing the new biodiversity action plan.
So on a cold but bright January afternoon I set off with a map, clipboard and coloured pencils to the Western Campus to survey the fairly substantial area around the Maurice Keyworth, Liberty, Charles Thackrah and Michael Marks Buildings.
The first stage was to use the Phase 1 habitat classification survey technique to record the current types of habitat in place, such as woodland, scrub, grassland, marsh, tall herb and fen. The second stage was to identify and suggest biodiversity opportunities and improvements that could be made in this part of the campus. For example, leaving grass to grow a little longer, planting hedgerows, swapping annual plants for perennial species which are better for bees, increasing tree cover, creating log piles for invertebrates and increasing shrub cover for smaller mammals.
I was impressed to discover that quite a few initiatives were already in place, including a log pile, bird feeders, a bee hotel and a wildflower meadow. However, I was pleased to be able to make further suggestions such as areas suitable for growing creepers, putting in more log piles and bug hotels, and I even suggested one place suitable for making a pond! I will look forward to seeing what developments arise once all of the surveys of the different parts of campus have been completed and put together.
Joanne Sutherland, SDDU