Since Birley Campus opened back in 2014, the Environment Team have worked closely with Hulme Garden Centre, a local, not-for-profit community-led organisation and charity to deliver a number of on-going and one-off projects.
One of these projects, commissioned back in 2015 were two woodland areas. We were interested in how we could enhance existing areas on campus and create on-going opportunities for our students, staff and communities to engage with the space.
Consequently, the Garden Centre commenced a woodland development project, which to date has introduced a range of edible and medicinal plants to the areas through planting days, seen the creation of pathways and more accessible spaces, and the installation of additional habitat spaces, including our very own insect hotel.
Most recently, on 17th May, the Environment Team and Garden Centre held a biodiversity survey day, open to students, staff, and the public. A range of students came along to offer their time and skills to help identify the plants.
Across the day, Kath Gavin, Sustainability Co-ordinator, Hulme Garden Centre, worked with our students and staff to introduce plant surveying and identification techniques and methods.
Some of our students were already very familiar with these techniques, coming from the ‘Wildlife Biology’ course, other less so, studying courses unrelated to the surveying activities. It demonstrated that no matter what your level of knowledge or experience, all participants with guidance and support, were able to identify a range of species across the woodland areas.
In just one of the woodland areas, our students identified 55 varieties of plants including shrubs, grasses, perennials, creepers, climbers and trees.
The data collected will contribute towards Manchester Met’s annual biodiversity surveying, which ultimately provides the means to understand how we manage, maintain, enhance and protect species and habitats across the University’s estate.
The surveying already undertaken and the next phase of surveying in the Birley woodland areas will provide invaluable information, which could reveal a wealth of wildlife and habitats in these areas.
Natacha, first year Wildlife Biology student commented “it was good to get some more hands-on in the field type of experience. I was surprised by the amount of habitats around the Birley campus- I wasn’t aware that MMU did that much to provide some valuable islands for wildlife and plants here in the city. I would most definitely come to another event”
The outcomes and benefits of developing the Birley Woodland areas to date have been plentiful, and there will be further opportunities in June through to September to get involved in the continued development and maintenance of the area, as well as plant and wildlife surveying.
If you are interested in getting involved, see our up and coming events http://www2.mmu.ac.uk/bigimpact//events/