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News article

York St John University’s green campus plans unveiled

Published: 24 May 2021

  •   Campus & Estates
Wooden crate of gardening tools

York St John has launched the next phase of its biodiversity strategy, outlining a series of commitments to supporting wildlife and habitats on campus.

On the list are several new ponds, including three on the main Lord Mayor’s Walk campus, to attract and support wildlife. This will further enhance our biodiversity by attracting beneficial insects and wildlife, such as frogs, damselflies, dragonflies, mayflies, pond skaters, snails and water beetles. The ‘Yorkshire in Bloom’ award-winning grounds team are planting a wildflower meadow, with a walkway through for students, staff and the public to enjoy. And for the first time visitors to campus will be able to enjoy the benefits of a ‘living wall’. Two new, brick built, raised beds have been constructed next to the Foss building and planted with a mix of evergreen and deciduous climbers (Trachelospermum jasminoides, Lonicera henryi, Clematis fuji musume, Clematis Armandii, Hedera ‘Sulphur Heart’ and Akebia quinata). These provide a habitat for wildlife including nesting birds, with flowers for colour, nectar, pollen and scent.     

Director of Estates Management at York St John University Nick Coakley said: “Our students and staff care about sustainability and want to see green initiatives like these. We’ve done a lot of work on our green campus over the last few years and are pleased to share our biodiversity action plan to demonstrate how we’re going to take this further. As well as encouraging wildlife, biophilic design connects us with nature and has great wellbeing benefits for our community.”   

These commitments come on top of work already underway at the University. The last few years have seen the creation of bug hotels, bird boxes and log pile habitats for hedgehogs, insects and invertebrates at our main campus. At our Haxby Road Sports Park we have created a wildlife pond, community allotments, beehives and an apple orchard with all Yorkshire varieties, as well as tansy plants to create a habitat for the endangered tansy beetle.  

York St John partnered with York Rotary to plant a tree for every child born in York in 2018/19 at no cost to parents. The saplings were planted on land at our Haxby Road Sports Campus, and over 1,100 babies were registered. The babies, now toddlers, and their parents are being invited back to the site this year when pandemic restrictions allow.     

Head Gardener at York St John Rob Scott said: “More than 1000 trees have been planted on our campuses in the last few years and there are more to come. In this way we’re delighted to be playing our part in the University’s mission to become carbon neutral. Sometimes we do have to make some difficult decisions such as replacing unhealthy Lime trees on Lord Mayor’s Walk this summer.  This is something that’s felt by all the team as we’re growers and nurturers and hate to lose established trees, even when safety dictates that it has to happen. We now have a robust plan in place to support and develop our green campus. For every Lime tree that has to be felled will be replaced with a semi mature standard of a similar species, giving benefit not only for our generation but many future generations to come.”    

 The next phase of tree planting at the University has temporarily been put on hold due to the pandemic, with hundreds of saplings waiting in the wings at a specially adapted nursery at Haxby Road. These consist of Oak, Elder, Hazel, Rowan, Hawthorn, Crab Apple and Dog Rose. Currently heeled in at our nursery, they will be planted out when they once again become dormant later in the year.   

Take a look at our award-winning, biodiverse grounds and download the brand new YSJ Campus Nature Map (PDF, 2MB).   

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01904 876 466

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