Living campus

We recognise our dependency on the natural environment and the services it provides and seek to support these services and benefits across campus in order to develop:

  • A living campus which is distinctive, with a strong sense of place.
  • A living campus to learn, work, enjoy, reflect and live in.
  • A living campus where we work alongside nature and nature works alongside us.

The Living Campus Plan has been created as part of the University’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy, specifically to address the challenges of a growing urban campus alongside the opportunities a healthy environment provides for people and nature.

You can help achieve our targets by supporting our actions and programmes delivered through three themes:

  • Key spaces.
  • Key species.
  • Key activities.

Many of our living campus features can be viewed on our Sustainability Map.

Alien species on campus

We have a policy to reduce the impact of alien species on campus by following UK Government guidelines in relation to invasive species. For example, we found Japanese Knotweed – an incredibly invasive species found across the UK and took steps to remove it on site. We ensure we manage our landscaping closely and when invasive species are discovered on campus, we contain them using approved herbicide (water based glyphosate) and make every effort for them to be disposed of as they should be by law. Our Manchester Museum also run events for the local community to help them identify invasive species in ponds and how they can manage this.

Monitoring IUCN and other conservation species

We have a policy to identify, monitor and protect any IUCN Red Listed species and national conservation list species with habitats in areas affected by the operation of our University. We are working to monitor and protect habitats that a wide range of birds may occupy on campus. We have identified four species listed as the UK Biodiversity Priority Species and two listed as amber on the Birds of Conservation Concern. Actions to preserve and protect these endangered species are outlined in the Living Campus Plan (page 23).

Our cultural institution, Jodrell Bank, is recorded as having Great Crested Newt habitats. Mitigation of risk to these Red Listed species has been outlined in planning applications. To protect these species, we worked with the local services to relocate the newts to two new ponds in suitable great crested newt habitat. Since then we have put procedures in place to protect the newts during all construction projects at the site.

Local biodiversity included in planning and development

Biodiversity is considered as part of the Environmental Sustainability Project Tracker which is used to ensure the principles of environmental sustainability are embedded across new builds and major refurbishments during design and construction.

The section on biodiversity aims to enhance site ecology by addressing spaces, species and activities of the area, considering a number of topics and setting specific targets to ensure that these are embedded. Opportunities to provide and increase green infrastructure and help to establish links with other areas of campus should be reviewed and there should be no net loss of green infrastructure. Opportunities for green roofs and walls should be considered to reduce surface water run-off and enhance biodiversity. An ecological baseline for the site should be determined and measures identified and implemented to achieve a net positive impact in terms of biodiversity. In line with the Living Campus Plan, proposals should contribute to the following:

1. Prioritise local species that benefit wildlife and prolong the flowering season.
2. Support invertebrate diversity (e.g. bees, moths and butterflies) and numbers across campus.
3. Help to preserve existing bird species (six priority species identified in the Living Campus Plan)
4. Help to support Manchester’s bat populations.

Trees should be retained and, where this is not possible, at least two new semi-mature trees are planted for every one removed.

Examples include:

  • MECD – green roof, tree planting, landscaping including species rich wildflower turf, plants for pollinators
  • University Green – tree planting, plants for pollinators
  • Henry Royce Institute Landscaping – tree planting, hedgerow planting, wildflowers, plants for pollinators
  • GEIC Pocket Park

Monitoring the health of aquatic ecosystems

Firs Environmental Research Station and Botanical Grounds Pond

The pond, ~ 6x4m in area, ~1m deep with a marginal shelf, is ornamental in nature with flag stones around the edge. The back of the pond has various stones and marginal plants providing exit and entry for wildlife. The rockery behind also provides sites for amphibian hibernacula.

The pond contains no fish and is maintained with promoting nature in mind, with minimal disturbance. Excessive algae and duckweed; Lemna minor is removed in summer and excess decaying plant material and leaves are removed in autumn. Planting is largely ornamental with Nymphaea water lilies and Iris. Native plant species include Bogbean; Menyanthes trifoliata, Marsh Fern; Thelypteris palustris, Lesser Bullrush; Typha angustifolia and Amphibious Bistort, Persicaria amphibia. There is a healthy population of newts, frogs, dragon and damselflies, and many other insects, crustacea and amphipods. There are also visits from Mallard ducks, Grey herons and other local birdlife.

Michael Smith Quad Pond

There is a pond in Michael Smith Quad. A survey carried out in 2022 found that the onsite pond was assessed to be in moderate condition due to the pond having good water quality based upon visual appearance, less than 10% of the pond being covered with duckweed or filamentous algae, an absence of fish and non-native plant species, and at least 50% of the ponds area being covered by both marginal and aquatic plants where the pond is less than 3m deep.


Did you know?

We have developed a tree plan and policy which requires the planting of two trees for every one removed.