hedgehog in grass


University of Hull gains platinum status for wildlife-friendly campus

A recent study reveals the University of Hull is a wildlife-friendly campus, gaining a platinumbadge of honour from researchers.

Following a Freedom of Information request, sent to 130 institutions throughout the UK, a wildlife-focused company, Ark Wildlife, compiled key research showcasing the universities that are doing their part in protecting our valuable wildlife.

At the top of the list, in the Platinum tier which represents the universities doing the most for wildlife, is the University of Hull.

To those who work and study on campus, this will likely be no surprise as the University has long been dedicated to protecting the animals living on its estate and nurturing their living environments.

Dr Lesley Morrell, Associate Dean (Education) in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, speaks about why this is of significant importance to the University: “Urban ecosystems have huge potential value in the conservation of biodiversity, and as a large urban green space, we’re working to improve the range and quality of habitats on the University campus.

Enhancing the biodiversity of urban spaces is known to have positive impacts on the health of both people and the planet.

Dr Lesley Morrell

In September 2021, the University pledged to create a hedgehog-friendly campus by signing up to a national scheme which aims to protect the animal population. A team of Hedgehog Champions were curated from enthusiastic staff and students, with more people becoming Hedgehog Ambassadors.

During this time, bug houses were installed around campus and hedgehog awareness stickers were attached to strimmers. Since then, more action has taken place and much more is planned for the future.

The University’s wildlife-friendly campus is also the headquarters for the British Carnivore Project, a nationwide research programme established in 2021 by animal behaviourist Dr Blake Morton for the purpose of understanding the impact of climate change and urbanisation on the behaviour and cognition of wild carnivores, particularly foxes and badgers.

Dr Morton said: “The University’s campus is a haven for wildlife, which has enabled my team to make ground-breaking discoveries about the psychology of British carnivores within an urban setting, which we hope will not only tell us more about these fascinating animals, but also about people’s relationship with them.”

Here’s how the University of Hull is currently managing the campus in terms of biodiversity:

  • Surveys have been completed, identifying key habitats and species.
  • The woodland area in Salmon Grove is being managed, encouraging woodland plants and improving the understory biodiversity.
  • The University participated in Plantlife’s ‘No Mow May’ campaign, leaving some areas un-mown to support flowering plants and pollinators. The University will continue to have low-mow areas throughout the year.
  • Native and wildlife-friendly species have been planted in areas of the campus – most recently over 300 trees around the West campus playing fields.
  • A ‘green wall’ has been created on the Wilberforce car park and has been seeded with native wildflower ‘bee bombs’.
  • Insect houses and bird boxes have been installed around the campus.
  • The campus continues to be Hedgehog Friendly, working towards providing safe and secure spaces for hedgehogs to live.
  • A vegetable garden has been created for the students.
  • Dead trees are left as monoliths for wildlife.
  • White clover has been planted in some former lawn areas for a more wildlife-friendly ground cover.

The work undertaken by the University of Hull isn’t just limited to the campus either, with support given to local organisations to assist with creating biodiversity conservation. This recently included creating a wildflower meadow at East Park.

a fox sleeping in tree roots

A new project has also begun that involves recording, archiving and showcasing the biodiversity of campus for students, staff and visitors. This has been compiled on the iNaturalist website and app, where people can search for ‘University of Hull Biodiversity’ to see the ongoing activity on campus. People can contribute to this by submitting the relevant recordings.

Each step into creating a wildlife-friendly environment forms part of the University’s wider strategy to increase biodiversity and become a more sustainable organisation, with the aim of moving towards being carbon neutral by 2027.

Read more about the University of Hull carbon neutral pledge.

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