UEA‘s 145 hectare campus has many varied habitats, including five County Wildlife Sites, and is home to over 3,000 species. 50 hectares are also within the Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme to deliver significant environmental benefits over 10 years.
Led by Dr Iain Barr (BIO), the Biodiversity Team conduct a comprehensive biodiversity audit over a two-year cycle. The current audit will report later in 2016.
Audit results, and on-going monitoring, feeds into our Grounds Maintenance and Conservation Plan, ensuring detailed management plans are in place for the most vulnerable habitats.
Balancing nature with enjoyment
UEA’s grassland areas are some of the richest in plant life but also the most heavily used for recreation. By interspersing the long grass with paths, both the conservation and recreation needs have been met.
There has been a steady increase in biodiversity in these areas, with a reduction in vigorous weeds and replacement by fine grasses and flowers. The Tussocks left over winter also provide food and homes for voles, which in turn become prey food for kestrel that can be seen all winter feeding in these areas.
Dr Iain Barr and the Grounds Team launched a new project in 2015—our tern nesting platform on the Broad.
Constructed on site, and containing around a tonne of pea shingle, the raft is anchored in the Broad over the summer. Although it didn’t support any nests in 2015, there was interest from several adults leading to successfully nesting birds in Spring 2016.
In July 2012 we reintroduced summer grazing of cattle onto University Fen. Four Highland Cattle, Delia, Cecily, Chocolate and Cornflower – along with Chocolate’s new calf – grazed until the end of the autumn to maintain the structure and composition of the marsh habitat and manage encroaching scrub.
Cattle return each June, and graze the Fen until around November. As well as habitat maintenance through grazing, the cattle dung both fertilises the soil and provides a new habitat that increases insect biodiversity. This benefits other areas of the food chain.
A bug's life
Over 750 of the species on campus are moths (some as large as 12cm in wingspan!), and 29 are butterflies, making this one of the most diverse groups of insects at UEA.
We also have an impressive list of dragonflies and damselflies, with 23 out of 42 species recorded in the UK. This puts UEA on a par with nature reserves such as Strumpshaw Fen, a nature reserve around 6 miles east of Norwich that is managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
Strategy and policies
Our Grounds Maintenance and Conservation Plan sets out our management principles in relation to our direct impacts. We are also managing our indirect impact on biodiversity through our procurement policies.
All project managers within Estates received biodiversity awareness training in 2015. All contractors on site are required to take the natural environment into account. Examples include limiting disruption to nesting birds, and adjusting work on natural habitats around the seasons.
The Higher Level Stewardship scheme (HLS)
The Higher Level Stewardship scheme (HLS) requires land managers to carry out a more demanding, advisor-led package of habitat management designed to deliver significant environmental benefits in high-priority areas.
HLS is a competitive scheme targeted at priority habitats and species. Any farmer or land manager can apply, but not every applicant is accepted. Agreements are allocated where they are likely to achieve most environmental benefit and represent good value for money, ensuring that funds are spent on national priorities.
Tom Everett is UEA's Landscape Manager. He and his team deliver on the requirements and documentation required to maintain the HLS at UEA.