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Biodiversity Policy 2023-2028

Last updated: 27 June 2023

1. Context

University of Gloucestershire has a long-standing commitment to sustainability and environmental protection, as reflected in its Sustainability Strategy 2022-2027. Its Estates Strategy 2022-2027 also references the importance of biodiversity as part of the suite of interlinked aspects of responsible environmental management of the wider university estate. The University has formal commitments to environmental protection as part of accreditation against ISO 14001: 2015. These strategic and monitoring frameworks provide the context in which its Biodiversity Policy objectives are located.

The University takes seriously the significant scientific evidence of growing biodiversity loss and the instability of ecosystem services. The commitments in this policy are intended to conserve, protect and enhance biological diversity in line with the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity and the 2020 UK Biodiversity Strategy. It also aims to support targets associated with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with specific focus on:

The objectives of this policy also recognise the important alignment with actions taken in response to accelerating climate change, as part of a linked approach to environmental protection. There is an associated set of targets for minimising and reducing its carbon emissions, aiming towards a ‘net zero’ position by 2030, in the University’s Carbon Net Zero Strategy, also aligned to ISO 14001: 2015.

Previous biodiversity planning and major initiatives included conduct of the last series of ecological audits in 2014 and a major EU funded biodiversity improvement programme at Oxstalls campus that concluded in 2020. From 2020-2022 the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted ecological surveying activities, and this policy recognises the need to refresh baseline information at the earliest opportunity.

This new policy applies from 2023, at the start of the new 3-year Environmental Management System certification period, through to the close of the Sustainability Strategy 2022-2027.

In 2021 the DfE released a Sustainability and Climate Change strategy aimed at education settings, including the intention to develop a virtual nature park to support biodiversity and educational engagement with the issues at stake. The higher education sector also launched a Nature Positive Universities network supported by UNEP in 2022 linked to the UN Biodiversity Summit, inviting universities to pledge to set baselines and targets, take action and report annually, as part of their commitment to sustainability and reversing nature loss. The university intends to monitor such developments for appropriate ways to engage as part of the advancement of this policy.

2. Campus sites

The University estate encompasses a wide range of habitat and species which create opportunities to protect and enhance biodiversity and where green spaces and wildlife are abundant. The university is set in a semi-rural area and the campus locations within the region encourage a large variety of species.

Its Park Campus is noteworthy for having been developed in the 19th century as a zoological, horticultural and botanical garden, and having been the focus of partnership work with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to develop community walks and signage of its key features.

Notable characteristics of its main teaching sites include:

These landscapes provide opportunities for students, staff and visitors to enjoy biodiversity as intrinsic to wider societal wellbeing and experience the benefits arising from the protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services. As landowner and an exemplar of Education for Sustainability, our responsibilities include the intention to engage our community with opportunities to learn and develop as professionals and citizens wherever possible to support delivery on our policy aims.

3. Policy scope

This Policy applies to all campuses that are owned and managed by the University and in line with its scope of registration against ISO 14001:2015.

The new City Campus development in Gloucester is referenced in relation to its planning phase as the campus site as its scheduled opening is expected in 2024.

The Pittville Student Village site is controlled by U-living and the operational management (including grounds) of this campus is carried out by Derwent UK.

4. Objectives and targets

The overarching objectives to be applied in respect of all campus sites are to:

  1. Maintain compliance with relevant biodiversity legislation as part of legislative commitments reflected in the compliance register attached to ISO 14001: 2015 accreditation.
  2. Implement sympathetic management techniques for grounds and maintenance activity, that reduce negative impact on wildlife and encourage native species.
  3. Implement specialist protective measures to protect vulnerable species, supported by site surveys to determine priorities.
  4. Incorporate principles of conservation and enhancement into estate planning activity and new site developments.
  5. Assess the impact on biodiversity in relation to major campus developments and implement strategies to mitigate any loss of habitat.
  6. Review biodiversity assessments and management plans associated with Estates development projects to track delivery
  7. Review methods for biodiversity measurement and develop a new baseline
  8. Maintain active stakeholder communications on biodiversity practices on site.
  9. Maintain biennial auditing of trees with regard to diseased or damaged trees.
  10. Review the requirements for membership of the Nature Positives Universities network and develop a plan to join if suitable.

The specific SMART targets and interventions that can support these objectives are outlined in the delivery plan at section 7. The approach to target-setting is guided by the specific contributions to biodiversity improvement and conservation allowed by our setting, for example:

i) Tree species are a priority focus given at least 3 campuses have a significant parkland setting that enables the organisation to encourage tree species, both overall as important ‘carbon sinks’ and in terms of supporting native species.

ii) Specific bird and animal species that have known presence and threatened status will be the focus of policy targets where the organisation can play a role in contributing to overall prevention of biodiversity loss, for example at FCH campus which has one of the largest colonies of swifts in the UK, a species added to the UK Red List in 2021 since over 58% of the population has been lost in the past 25 years.

iii) Planting and grounds maintenance strategies that will encourage the safeguarding and overall development of biodiversity, for example regarding rare species and wildflowers, inform the selection of targets.

In this way we aim to set targets that are appropriate to our regional, local and site-specific settings, that recognise our inherited biodiversity and seek to maximise the contribution we can make. The annual review of this policy will aim to capture changes arising to our settings and these priorities.

5. Delivery responsibilities

Primary responsibility for implementing the objectives is delegated to the Estates Department as the professional service area with responsibility for grounds, maintenance and construction works.

Supporting governance is provided by the Sustainability Department which is responsible for effective performance against the objectives and targets of ISO 14001: 2015 and the associated policies and strategies that enable delivery against these aims. ISO 14001:2015 also requires a proactive approach to stakeholder communications and engagement around its objectives and the Sustainability Department has a co-ordinating role to play in the achievement of this purpose.

The wider educational and engagement aims associated with this policy do not have specific targets but are considered part of the Education for Sustainability programme delivered through the Sustainability Department and opportunities for curriculum design linked to biodiversity practices and student learning projects to deliver on biodiversity actions are considered in that context.

6. Monitoring and reporting

The annual Sustainability Performance Review provides the forum for annual reporting on the maintenance and achievement of objectives and targets contained in this policy.

7. Delivery plan

AspectsCommitmentsCampusSMART TargetsAction/Owner/Date
1.Tree Species – NativeMaintain existing planting – Hawthorn, Silver Birch, Rowan, Wild Cherry, Oak, Blackthorn.Park, OxstallsMaintain minimum 6 native species – at least 2 sites1.1 Review species by SPR 2023 and further define/agree targets (E Moulding & J Furley).
2.Tree Species – OrnamentalMaintain current levels of overall tree planting to support climate change resilience.Park, Oxstalls, FCHMaintain minimum overall stock of 1,250 trees across the estate2.1 Update site-specific data on tree stock by SPR 2023 and define target accordingly (E Moulding & J Furley).
3.Wildlife Species – SwiftsProtect the colony of swifts resident at FCH campus.FCHMaintain the number of swift nests (50 nests)3.1 Ensure Estates maintenance activities, etc do not disturb nests (Estates Team)
4.Wildlife Species – HedgehogsMaintain Hedgehog Friendly Status at FCH  (and review opportunities to extend to other campuses)FCH1 site  
FCH = Bronze
4.1 Investigate actions needed to achieve HFS at other campuses (J Furley)
5.Plant Species – WildflowersTake annual action to support wildflower development across the estate.All4 sites
Annual initiative
5.1 Operate No Mow May annually at 4 site (Estates Team)
6.Plant Species – Rare OrchidsMaintain known species, 1 at Hardwick and 1 at ParkPark, HardwickMaintain 2 species6.1 Ensure mowing practices, etc do not harm species
7.Map estates land category typesDevelop campus maps to include % area and m2 of landscape typeAll4 sites7.1 Map 4 sites by 2024 (S Williams, E Moulding & J Furley)

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