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!

Our Arbmazing Arboriculture Manager!

This is our amazing Arboriculture Manager, Peter, standing in front of a row of Pinus radiata trees that he planted on campus 36 years ago in 1985!

These are just some of the 10,000 trees that Peter and his team manage on University grounds.

We salute you and your team Peter.

The Amazing Benefits of Trees!

The University of Exeter Streatham and St Luke’s Campuses, fields and woodland areas contain over 10,000 mature trees managed by the Grounds Team and we are keen to show the amazing benefits of these magnificent trees.

We recently undertook another i-tree survey of our trees, which converts measurements such as tree height, girth and canopy spread into an economic value of the natural benefits they provide.

Using some of the results from this updated survey, we have produced new wooden tree information signs which will replace the existing ones on campus.

Keep an eye out for these new signs which are displayed on trees around the grounds.

Apprentices in the Grounds Team

David Evans, Grounds and Sports Operations Manager, talks about our Apprentices in the Grounds Team; read his interview and see how employing Apprentices is so worthwhile, beneficial and fulfilling to both the Apprentice and the Grounds Team.

David Evans, Grounds and Sports Operations Manager

Tree-mendous Benefits from our Campus Ecosystem

A recent tree survey by the University has found that our mature trees have an annual economic value of over £46k.

The survey, which took place in 2018 as part of our ongoing tree management programme, recorded the mature trees (5,274 trees) across our campuses and found that University trees remove over 2 tonnes of pollutants each year and store over 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Our trees also divert 5,460 cubic metres of storm water run-off away from local sewer systems annually, which is worth over £8k each year.

The value of these benefits is used to calculate an economic value, which can be used to inform local management decisions and help optimise biodiversity as well as allowing us to improve our economic sustainability and reduce the University’s carbon footprint.

The overall economic value of our trees is £46,123 which is a significant rise from the previous survey in 2009 of £20,874.

The total replacement value of our trees currently stands at over £10.5 million.

Iain Park, the Director of Grounds, said “we are the custodians of a unique asset on our Exeter campuses. Not only do we have one of the widest ranges of tree species of any UK University with the largest number of Champion Trees, the survey confirms that they have a proven environmental and economic benefit.

The grounds offer our students and staff recognised positive impacts on health and wellbeing, which we share with the wider community by granting permitted access to our sites. In addition, our 153Ha estate has a positive impact on the biodiversity, habitat and environment of the City and wider South West region.

The Grounds Team work hard to continue to preserve and enhance this award winning asset as part of their ongoing custodianship of historic and new landscapes in their care.”

Tree Works on Streatham Campus

In preparation for the extension of Car Park B (approved planning application 18/0487/FUL) which is scheduled to commence in June 2019, it is necessary that the existing trees that are affected by the works are removed in advance of the bird nesting season; this work is scheduled to be completed before 31st January.

As part of the extension to Car Park B, there is a plan to replace the trees on the east side of the access road to Car Park B.

Also the Grounds Team have identified some trees from the site that can be saved by moving and replanting them on campus.

In addition, the Grounds Team will be planting 12 x standard trees, 220 x tree whips and 6 x donated trees, to help ensure a sustainable tree cover on campus and a robust range of species for both amenity and ecological value.

National Tree Week

It’s National Tree Week! First initiated in 1975, National Tree Week is the UK’s largest tree celebration annually launching the start of the winter tree planting season.

We are extremely lucky and proud to have 10,000 trees on University grounds. They are all managed in-house by the Grounds Team skills and dedicated arborists.

To help you appreciate a selection of our diverse trees, we have published Tree Trail guides for both the Streatham Campus and St Luke’s Campus which can be downloaded from the Grounds website.

Cover Page – Tree Trail St Luke’s Campus

Cover Page – Tree Trail Streatham Campus