Biodiversity is the term given for the variety of life on Earth. The WWF recently stated that biodiversity has declined by more than a quarter in the last 35 years. Therefore it is important for the University of Brighton to encourage an environment that contains a high level of biodiversity. Biodiverse environments are also more pleasing to the eye and so the benefits to the university are many, in supporting local habitats and creating a better environment for all users.
What is the University of Brighton doing?
A biodiversity audit of the university’s campuses was undertaken in June 2008. From this audit the university’s Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) was created. Suggestions were then integrated into land management practices.
From the start of the 2011-12 academic year the audit of 2008 has served as a baseline and springboard for the second phase of the university’s BAP. It was revised by Adam Keeves, placement student in the university’s Environment Team.
The revision re-highlighted areas of biodiversity interest, potential and areas of top priority. These priorities included the introduction of more meadow land, the creation f habitat corridors and a substantial reduction in the amount of chemicals used on the university’s estate. Another large drive was to ensure biodiversity was created from native species and encourage the recolonisation of areas by species normally found in such environments.
The revised BAP was undertaken by EFM in early 2012 and Moulsecoomb and Falmer have been used as pilot areas for the new suggestions. The new mowing regimes, set out to manage meadow habitats is in full force across the whole Falmer campus and in from of Manor House on the Moulsecoomb site.
Since the two pilot sites were chosen there has been a drive to connect staff and students with the biodiversity action plan. During a wet March weekend, 54 volunteers turned up to help plant the first 300 shrubs and trees on the Falmer site. The saplings were a mix of organic, locally grown, native species such as guilder rose, spindle, dog wood and hazel. They will help to create a more welcoming habitat for wildlife within the campus, providing shelter and food.
The pilot schemes have already given some reasons to celebrate with the first sightings of rare wildlife at the university. Pyramidal Orchids (anacamptis pyramidalis) and Adonis Blue Butterflies (polyommatus bellargus) have both been spotted by keen eyed senior groundsperson Nicky Moore, who is spearheading the implementation of the scheme across the university. Both were spotted at Falmer where the new mowing regime is in effect and hopefully will be the first of many success stories from increasing the university’s biodiversity.
A workshop was run at Moulsecoomb on International Biodiversity Day on the 22 May 2012, getting staff and students to build their own bug boxes for the campus or to take home. The event included a talk regarding the issues surrounding biodiversity and the current efforts of the university’s biodiversity action plan.
Over the next coming years there will be an increasing drive towards a more resilient, connected and diverse landscape, with students and staff helping to drive the project forward.