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!

Green Flag Award 2021-22 Winner!

We are delighted to announce that we have again successfully achieved the prestigious Green Flag Award for both our Streatham Campus and our 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.

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!

Sustainable Practices – seed propagation and plants grown in-house

We have been busy with seed propagation this week in our Estate Services Centre Nursery.

The cuttings are soft-wood material using the techniques of nodal, heel and mallet cuttings.

This important work, of growing plants in-house and planting them on campus and by residences, means that we are reducing our carbon footprint, working within our sustainability practices and reducing costs.

  

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

 

Creative Upcycling – Bird Boxes, Bat Boxes and Bug Hotels

Our Grounds Sports Team based at Topsham Sports Ground have been busy making bird boxes and bat boxes from spare wooden palettes. These have been put up around the grounds in time for the bird nesting season and the excess ones will be sold at our plant sales.

Bird and bat boxes upcycled from wooden pallets

If that wasn’t impressive enough, the Grounds Sports Team have also created a bug hotel upcycled from a tree that fell during the recent storms.

Bug hotel upcycled from a fallen tree

What fantastic sustainability initiatives, well done to all our creative Grounds Sports Team.

Go Green Week – Monday 10th to Friday 14th February 2020

It’s Go Green Week from Monday 10th to Friday 14th February. The University and the Students’ Guild are teaming up with a range of student societies, the Grounds Team, academics and local community members to offer a range of events and activities to encourage people to think about environmental issues and support people to take positive environmental action in their own lives and communities.

Go Green Week events and programme:

Monday 10 – Waste & Recycling

  • Go Green in the Forum – 11:00-15:00 – Forum
  • Free hot drinks if you have a reusable cup – 11:00 – Forum
  • Nourish – zero-waste shop stand – 11:00-15:00 – Forum
  • Eco-brick stand – 11:00-15:00 – Forum
  • Litter pick – TBC

Tuesday 11 – Travel & Energy

  • Free bike safety checks – 10:30-14:30 – Great Hall Piazza
  • Bike maintenance workshops – 10:30-15:00 – Great Hall Piazza
  • Plant Sale – 09:00-14:00 – Cross Keys, St Luke’s
  • Bike security marking and equipment discounts – 11:00-15:00
  • Go Green in the Forum – 11:00-15:00 – Forum
  • Free hot drinks if you have a reusable cup – 11:00 – Forum
  • Student Switch Off Climate Change Quiz – 11:00-15:00 – Forum

Wednesday 12 – Wellbeing & Education

  • Free bike safety checks – Cross Keys – 10:30-14:30
  • Go Green in the Forum – 11:00-15:00 – Forum
  • Free hot drinks if you have a reusable cup – 11:00 – Forum
  • St. Luke’s Garden Open Sessions – 12:00-14:00 – South Cloisters
  • Tree Planting Session – 13:30 – Meet at Chapel Drive
  • Streatham Campus Community Garden open session – 15:00-17:00 – Community Garden

Thursday 13 – Biodiversity & Environment

  • Go Green in the Forum – 11:00-15:00 – Forum
  • Free hot drinks if you have a reusable cup – 11:00 – Forum
  • Grounds Guided Tour – 12:00-13:00 – Forum Piazza

Friday 14 – Food & Fashion

  • Go Green in the Forum – 11:00-15:00 – Forum
  • Free hot drinks if you have a reusable cup – 11:00 – Forum
  • Clothes swap event – 11:00-15:00 – Forum
  • Giki stand – 11:00-15:00 – Forum
  • Vegan food stall – 11:00-15:00 – Forum
  • Food & Fashion Q&A – 14:30-15:30 – Forum Seminar Room 03
  • Go Green Week finale – refreshments – 15:30-16:30 – Forum

You can also find out more about student-led projects, local groups and opportunities to get involved in at the Information Fair every day in The Forum http://www.exeter.ac.uk/sustainability/newsandevents/gogreenweek/