Green Flag Award 2022-23 Winner!

We are delighted to announce that we have again achieved the prestigious Green Flag Award for both our Streatham Campus and our St Luke’s Campus!

We have successfully retained this award for the twelfth consecutive year for Streatham Campus and for the tenth consecutive year for St Luke’s Campus.

The Award is the mark of a quality park or green space which has achieved the international standards for open space excellence.

The Grounds team work hard throughout the year using their extensive skills and experience to nurture our beautiful grounds and we are extremely proud of this achievement and the wonderful grounds that we have the privilege to work in and enjoy.

University of Exeter campuses re-awarded the coveted Green Flag Award

The University of Exeter’s grounds across three campuses have been ranked among the best parks and green spaces in the country.

The gardens and grounds at the University’s Streatham, St. Luke’s and Penryn campuses are some of the record number of parks and green spaces receiving the Green Flag Award this year as they are recognised as the most beautiful and botanically interesting of any UK university.

The Exeter campuses manage a mature tree stock of around 10,000 trees along with an arboretum, Italianate garden, magnolia lawn, cherry orchards and a national collection of Azara. While it’s Penryn campus, shared by Falmouth University and the University of Exeter, Cornwall includes herbaceous beds, sub-tropical planting, a fruit producing orchard, an 18th Century lime avenue and a drive with Pinetum native woodlands and historic rare rhododendrons which were cultivated on the site in the Victorian era. All three of the University’s grounds also feature high-quality sporting facilities for students, staff and visitors.

A committed team works on the grounds and outdoor sports facilities, 365 days a year. The work of the grounds staff includes the care of specialist plant collections, botanical specimen propagation, pot and bedding plant production, sports playing surface maintenance and award-winning floral decoration works.

University of Exeter’s Head of Ground and Operations, David Evans, said: ‘’We are delighted to have secured this honour once again.

‘’We always put sustainability at the core of everything we do and work closely with our colleagues and students to ensure that the grounds are maintained in as environmentally friendly a manner as possible.’’

Oliver Lane, FX Plus Director of Residences and Facilities in Cornwall, said: “We are delighted to have retained this award for a sixth year. It highlights the hard work of our teams and volunteers – both students and staff. Particular thanks should go to Toby Nenning, Grounds and Gardens manager, and Casey Thomas, Head of Facilities Management, and to their teams.

“Both Falmouth University and the University of Exeter are dedicated to sustainability under their Climate Emergency declarations and a key part of this involves supporting green spaces and the biodiversity on our beautiful campus.”

Professor Lisa Roberts, the University of Exeter’s Vice-Chancellor said: ‘’Our stunning grounds are an essential part of what is so special about our university. Our talented grounds team works extremely hard to keep the estate beautiful and accessible while also creating habitats that protect wildlife and the environment. Our beautiful surroundings contribute significantly to the wellbeing of our staff and students and we take great pride in the fact they are as much a home for wildlife as they are for us.

‘’We are proud to have been given the Green Flag award, thanks to the hard work of dedicated colleagues like those in our grounds management team.’’

Keep Britain Tidy’s Accreditation Manager Paul Todd said: “I would like to congratulate everyone involved in making the University of Exeter campuses worthy of a Green Flag Award. It is testament to all the hard work of staff who do so much to ensure that they maintain the high standards demanded by the Award.”

The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of green spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

A full list of Green Flag Award-winning parks and green spaces is available here

 

 

Big Climate Fightback! Tree Planting Event

We are all increasingly aware of just how important trees are to our environment; from absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to protecting nature and wildlife from the adverse impacts of climate change.

As part of the Woodland Trust’s Big Climate Fightback, the Classics Department claimed approximately 30 tree saplings through Students for Trees and, in conjunction with the Grounds Team, these saplings were planted by students and staff from the Classics Department at the Lower Hoopern Valley on Thursday 31st March 2022.

This is the third annual tree planting event in the Lower Hoopern Valley that the Grounds Team have co-ordinated with student and staff volunteers.

Great job everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

Tree-mendous News – more than £16,000 raised for local charity Hospiscare!

We are delighted to announce that we have helped raise more than £16,000 (with gift aid still to be added) for the local charity Hospiscare by supporting their Christmas Tree Recycling Campaign.

1,200 trees were collected by volunteers from homes across Exeter, Exmouth and Honiton and brought to the green waste site on our Streatham Campus.

The trees were then chipped by our Grounds Team and agricultural students from Bicton College.

A Jensen chipper was kindly lent to us by Elm Star, a local company in Newton Abbot, who also instructed the students on how to operate the chipper.

The chippings will be applied on the grounds around campus and also used to improve a local public right of way path.

We would like to say a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who was involved in the collaborative community campaign raising funds for the very worthwhile local charity Hospiscare. You are absolute stars!

Laura Robertson, Hospiscare Fundraising Projects Manager said “the money raised could fund 22 in-patient beds for a whole 24 hours. During what is a particularly difficult time for Hospiscare financially, this total really will help considerably and will contribute to ensuring we are here for local people living with terminal illness and their families long into the future”.

Just some of the 1,200 trees to be shredded!

Getting ready to start

Here we go!

Jensen chipper kindly lent by local company Elm Star

Working hard

Chipping in action

Operating the chipper

Bicton College students doing a fantastic job

Nearly finished!

Wood Habitats on Campus

We love to create wood habitats on campus as they are essential for wildlife and provide food and shelter for countless tiny invertebrates.

The habitat piles in these photos are made from the dead branches of the trees they surround, so any fungi or minibeasts are still near their habitat.

So if you see log piles on our grounds, we haven’t forgotten to clear away debris following tree works …………………… we are doing our bit for nature and the environment!

Dealing with Ash Dieback at the University

Ash Dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) is a fungal disease first recorded by the Forestry Commision in 2006 becoming prominent in the South East of England in 2012.

We have confirmations on Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) specimens within our University since 2018, as has been the case for other well monitored sites in Devon and Cornwall.

The infection is permanent with no control and, although mostly terminal, there is a high degree of variability with respect to the seriousness and speed of the symptoms. We are gifted with a high number of people exploring, enjoying and being amongst our grounds and any sign of symptom is considered with great caution so physical management of these trees today and in the future is a certainty.

The dilemma amongst the Grounds team is that we know how valuable Ash is to biodiversity as a habitat. It hosts Woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major), Tawny Owls (Strix aluco), Redstarts (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) and the team favourite the Nuthatch (Sitta europaea), all for nesting. The lichens and moss which grow freely are a food source for caterpillars.

We are able to balance these interests and find opportunity where people are safe, and friends of other species can continue to share the space together.

The solution we have employed, which you can see in the photo below, is to carry out a veteranisation process on a tree. The major limbs are completely removed until the crown has gone and there is only a trunk left standing. The tree is then ringbarked which involves removing the living tissue from around the trunk. With the xylem and phloem severing the plants’ ability to transport water and nutrients, the tree will die and decay and this breaking down process will become host to insect species.

Importantly as the trunk is short and wide with developed buttress roots, there is no expectation that this tree will fall.

The top of the trunk can now be coronet pruned. This describes a technique that aims to replicate the natural fracturing effect seen after a limb failure, where insect species can easily reside within and rainfall can sit and gather amongst the dead wood.

Trunk segmentations have been cut out, hollowed and an entrance point made. These have been re-attached to the trunk around all four compass points as a future bird nesting habitat.

For anyone that would like to visit this work its location can be found here – http://ex.ac.uk/veteran-ash-specimen

For the future, the best course of action is regularly monitoring the species we care for. After all a minority will also be genetically tolerant and that stock of trees amongst our collection will be vital for the long-term future of the woodlands and specimens here when we begin to repopulate.

 

Diseased tree upcycled into wildlife habitat tree stump and bird boxes

Unfortunately a diseased Ash tree behind the IAIS Building on Streatham Campus has had to be removed, but our Arb Team were keen to use this as an opportunity to help wildlife and increase wildlife habitats on campus, in keeping with our biodiversity and sustainability work practices.

It is now a wildlife habitat high stump which will harbour and benefit insects and wildlife for years to come and the team have also carved bird boxes into the trunk.

Great job team!

More Wow Wildflowers!

The wildflower areas at St Luke’s Campus are looking fantastic.

Wow Wildflowers!

The wildflowers at the Reed Hall beds are in flower and looking glorious.

Last year we trialled having wildflowers instead of the customary formal planting in these beds and they proved so popular with everyone and the bees, butterflies and insects that we’ve done it again!

Hedgehog Awareness Week – 3rd to 9th May 2020

It’s Hedgehog Awareness Week, so we thought it would be a good time to highlight the problems hedgehogs face and how you can help them, especially as we are spending more time in our gardens at the moment.

There are many simple things we can all do to help hedgehogs:

  • Create a log pile that will offer shelter and food.
  • Cover drains or deep holes.
  • Avoid using pesticides and slug pellets in your garden, not only can these harm hedgehogs but also damage their food chain. Use organic methods instead.
  • Make sure hedgehogs have easy access to your garden. Ensure boundary fences or walls have a 13cm x 13cm gap in the bottom to allow hedgehogs to pass through.
  • Keep a corner of your garden wild to offer shelter, protection and natural food for hedgehogs and other wildlife.
  • Encourage hedgehogs into your garden, but you should never just move one in from another area, as it may well have a nest of dependent young that you would be condemning to death.
  • Provide a shallow dish of fresh water for all wildlife, and food such as hedgehog food, meaty cat or dog food or cat biscuits for hedgehogs, especially during long dry spells.
  • Make or buy a hedgehog home (see plans), this offers a hibernation site safe from predators in the winter. It may also be used as a nesting box for a mother and her hoglets in the warmer months.
  • Check areas thoroughly for hedgehogs and other wildlife before strimming or mowing.
  • Keep pea netting 22-30cms (9 – 12”) off the ground so hedgehogs can pass under
    and plants will grow to the netting.
  • Dispose of litter responsibly. Every year hedgehogs are injured by litter and starve to death by getting trapped in discarded rubbish.
  • Bonfires offer a tempting home for a hedgehog. Ideally collected materials should be re-sited just before the fire is to be lit, if this is not possible, the base should be lifted up with poles or broom handles (not a fork!) and a torch shone in to look for any wildlife or pets in need of rescue before lighting.
  • Hedgehogs are good swimmers but can become trapped in ponds or pools with
    sheer sides. Keep water levels topped up, provide a gently sloping edge if possible or place half submerged rocks in the water as an escape for them.
  • Finally, take care on the roads, hedgehogs are nocturnal so are often seen out at
    night. A hedgehog’s natural defence mechanism is to roll into a ball – this is no
    match for a motor vehicle.

British Hedgehog Preservation Society Chief Executive, Fay Vass, said 
“Our gardens take up such a lot of habitat, and by getting together with neighbours to ensure hedgehogs have access points and hedgehog friendly features in the garden, we can open up a really useful amount of habitat for them.  You could become a Hedgehog Champion for your area at Hedgehog Street – a project run by BHPS and our partners People’s Trust for Endangered Species.  Join 70,000 Champions by signing up at www.hedgehogstreet.org – there’s even a Hedgehog Street app you can download from The App Store or Google Play!”

 

New Environmental Foamstream System

The University’s Grounds Team have purchased a new piece of equipment with the environment in mind. The water based foamstream system deals with moss, algae and weeds without the use of chemicals.

It is proving particularly useful in the historic listed landscape of Reed Hall as there is no risk of damaging the stonework.

The photos below show some of our staff using the new foamstream equipment and the difference achieved in the treated areas.

Grounds staff using the new foamstream equipment

Reed Hall gardens – before the foamstream application

Reed Hall gardens – after the foamstream application

Reed Hall stonework – before the foamstream application

Reed Hall stonework – after the foamstream application