Through collaborative management with our grounds contractor, we aim to increase conservation areas on campus.
Since 2013 the University has been steadily improving habitats on site and increasing the area set aside for biodiversity actions. The area set aside has gone from zero to around 10% of the main campus area by 2020/21.
New target to increase biodiversity on campus
In 2020 the University Council committed to a new set of environmental targets, including a target for 'Net Environmental Gain including biodiversity to be increased by 20%” to compensate for areas being developed as part of the campus masterplan. With this to be achieved on campus if possible. Biodiversity will benefit from the new target to ensure any development on site results in a net environmental gain. The masterplan for the University sets out areas for new buildings and also a wildlife corridor where new habitats can be established. You can read about our latest progress including KPI in our annual report Environmental policy and governance.
Biodiversity Action Plan
We now have published our first version of the Biodiversity Action Plan. The plan describes the habitats and species we have on the Cranfield University campus and outlines future plans for conservation and management. You may also be interested in reading about our urban BESS research project.
Biodiversity walks and volunteering
As Cranfield is a hotspot for a variety of plant, animal and fungi species, we run a series of lunchtime walks around the campus to help staff and students interact with wildlife, and host annual Springwatch events. We encourage staff and students to submit photos to us and report wildlife on campus via our social media pages, or by contacting email@example.com.
Staff and students are actively involved in volunteering, including honey harvesting, conservation tasks on and off campus, and tree planting. Our partners include the Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs and Northants, and the Forest of Marston Vale. Please see our Engagement page for more information. To keep up to date with the latest events, please visit our social media pages.
To help attract birds such as blue tits, robins, starlings, sparrows and yellow hammers we have installed nest boxes across the Cranfield campus. Initially we engaged with a local charity which supports individuals with learning disabilities to make bird boxes for us. Following this, we ran a volunteering session during one of our annual Green Week events for staff and students to make more bird and bat boxes, which resulted in over 25 new nest boxes located across the Cranfield campus.
On campus, areas which are managed for biodiversity or left to grow naturally (without mowing or trimming) are known as ‘biodiversity action areas’. Examples on campus include:
- Orchard area (behind The Green)
- 6x Bee hives located near the woodland trail
- Woodland Trail
- Water bodies such as the brook, Martell house pond
- Planted pollinator beds seen outside IT building, the library and sports hall.
- Areas left to grow naturally like the Fedden house sports field and the meadow by the woodland trail
- Hedgerow and scrubs which act as a wildlife corridor
Our efforts help to encourage and increase populations of important pollinator species such as bees, butterfly’s and other insects. This in turn helps support birds and endangered mammals such as hedgehogs.
For more information, please see our Biodiversity Action Plan and latest Annual Environmental report.
To create a baseline for our Cranfield campus Biodiversity Action Plan, we undertook a 'BioBiltz' event, together with the Bedfordshire Natural History Society (BNHS), as a way of surveying the wildlife on campus.
With funding from Central Bedfordshire Council, we have created a new walking trail within our woodland. Behind Handley Page close (grid reference D1 on our Cranfield campus map), a new bridge connecting the sports field (behind Fedden House) to the woodland area has also been installed. Within the woodland walk, we have installed bug boxes, and deadwood piles for insects.
Our biodiversity action areas have won the following awards:
- 2018: 'Overall Winner - Best Wildlife Garden' - Wildlife Trust Wildlife at Work Award,
- 2018 ‘Best Employee Engagement in Wildlife Garden’ - Wildlife Trust Wildlife at Work Award,
- 2017: ‘Best Employee Engagement in Wildlife Garden’ - Wildlife Trust Wildlife at Work Award,
- 2016 ‘Best Newcomer Wildlife Garden’ - Wildlife Trust Wildlife at Work Award.
- 2021 Hedgehog friendly campus bronze award - Cranfield University achieves Bronze 'Hedgehog Friendly Campus'
Did you know?
The county flower of Bedfordshire is the bee orchid which can be seen flowering at various locations on the Cranfield campus in May and June.
During winter 2021, we worked with enthusiastic staff and student members to set up a sustainability garden behind our student union building (CSA). This consists of raised beds for growing fruits and vegetables (including reused tractor tyres), rainwater harvesting, a bug hotel, pollinator beds, wild grasses and a hedgehog house.
Gardening clubs run from spring to autumn. Harvested fruit and vegetables are shared amongst the volunteers. The sustainability garden is a continuously growing project and needs support from the staff and student community.
To volunteer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are some highlights of wildlife on campus. Please see our Flickr account for more.