The Grounds and Gardening Team within Queen's have made key efforts to enhance biodiversity found within campus. This has been achieved via the 'Nurture and Grow: Connecting People through Nature' Programme and by changing key operational procedures.
The Garden Team within Queen's have been busy making sure our pollinators have an abundance of food and shelter!
They have created several 'no mow areas' within Riddel Hall, at Ashby Hill and within the DKB Quad. As a result, a range of pollinators have grown - buttercups, clover, selfheal and silene.
Within Queen's campus pesticides are not used and a very limited use of herbicide is used to treat hard surfaces for health and safety purposes.
More than 80% of plants that are planted within our sites are from the RSPB approved plant list - lupins, lavender, teugn, nepeta cataria, hellebores, grape hyacinth and anenome.
Our gardeners limit disruption to wildlife via a range of methods. For example, they restrict the cutting of hedges during bird nesting season.
You can find orchards across our campus, from the DKB to Elms Accommodation site. This includes apple, cherry and plum trees!
In addition to the ongoing work of the Estates Team, we also need to know the level of pollinator diversity we currently have on campus in order to effectively assess the impact of such work and any future interventions.
As a result two students from the School of Biology have been provided with placements to undertake a Phase 1 Habitat Survey during the 2021 survey season. They will be conducting plant, invertebrate, soil and mammal areas in two campus locations –Lennoxvale Street and Riddel Hall. This project has been funded via Queen's Green Fund.
If you have a biodiversity idea that will help Queen's support the All Ireland Pollinator Plan please get in touch via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Queen's University Belfast are delighted that the ‘Nurture and Grow Programme: Connecting People Through Nature’ was selected as the winner within the Green Gown Awards Student Engagement Category.Green Gown Award Winner
Nurture and Grow Programme
Queen’s University staff, students and residents from the local community have joined forces in an effort to enhance the range of habitats within Queen’s community, ensuring South Belfast is providing a home for wildlife and enabling our local community to pull together and take action for climate change. As part of our application to The Green Gown Awards, a video was created to showcase the range of projects involved: Elms Allotment, Lennoxvale Tree Nursery, Medicinal Garden, Alleyway Transformation Project, DKB Orchard and Bio: Diverse City.
Staff, students and local residents have rejuvenated a vacant brownfield site into a nursery growing native trees – 1,000 trees will be nurtured over the next two years, all of which will be planted within Belfast, as part of the Million Trees for Belfast Campaign. This project was imagined by the local San Souci Residents Association and local students, who are now responsible for the long-term management of the site with the support of The Conservation Volunteers NI.
In March 2022, the Lord Mayor of Belfast helped QUB staff and students and the Sans Souci Residents Association as they planted trees at Elm’s Village.
This journey started in 2019, when students and Sans Souci residents collected seeds from Belvoir Forest. Since then, local residents and the volunteers at Lennoxvale Tree Nursery on the Malone Road have looked after the acorns and helped them grow into oak saplings, which have been replanted at Elm’s Village.
The Lennoxvale Tree Nursery is just one of a number of 'Nurture and Grow' initiatives taking place across the University which bring together staff, students and members of the local community. These projects aim to increase local biodiversity and support nature in an urban setting.
The Green at Queen’s Allotment idea was created by a group of student volunteers, who worked in partnership with The Conservation Volunteers to launch the allotment in 2019.
Queen’s Accommodation have been consistently hosted allotment training for student gardeners up at Elm’s Village over the course of the year. Students have been given the opportunity to do some gardening at the allotment behind the Treehouse in Elm’s BT9, with the help of the Conservation Volunteers. Students have completed a number of tasks so far, such as identifying some of the plants already in the allotment, tidying the existing soil patches and adding compost so the students could plant some onion and garlic bulbs. Students have also learned how to use the gardening tools correctly, how to make their own planters for herbs and flowers and recently planted potatoes, carrots and cabbage.
Thank you to Elm’s BT9 for organising the training and for The Conservation Volunteers for coming to teach the students all about the allotment.
On 01/03/2022, our QUB Gardening team, with the help of some Handy Helpers, made the trip to the Ashby Building to plant a new wildlife hedgerow on the hill at the back of the Ashby. The gardeners and Handy Helpers were tasked with planting 50 linear metres of hedgerow along the fencing that separates the Ashby Building from Chlorine Gardens. In order for the hedge to be deemed a ‘wildlife’ hedgerow, there must be at least 6 species of sapling planted. The species included in our new hedgerow included:
Hawthorne, Blackthorne, Holly, Beech, Oak, Field Maple, Hazel, Crab apple, Alder.
This project is part of the Gardening team’s mission to continue increasing biodiversity across Queen’s campus.
On 23/02/2022, QUB Gardeners made the trip to West Winds Primary School, Newtownards, to help the P7s plant some birch saplings. The children had an absolute blast planting 20 birch saplings at their school! Our Gardeners also had a great time teaching the children all about birch saplings, the tree-planting process and how to look after them.
The day was so successful that the teachers at West Winds Primary School would like our gardeners to come back and help the children create a Wildflower meadow at the school. This process has already begun, with Gareth Dalzell from Dalzell Landscape Company volunteering his time to cut the turf, and the children helping lift the turf away.
Green at Queen’s would like to thank West Winds Primary School for hosting our gardeners and looking after them so well, Gareth Dalzell for volunteering to cut the turf, and to the QUB gardening team for travelling to Newtownards to help the children plant the trees. Overall, it was a fantastic day!
This opportunity arose as part of the work of Professor Mark Emmerson from the School of Biological Sciences. He aided West Winds Primary School in applying for the Royal Society’s partnership grant called ‘Tomorrow’s Climate Scientists’. Schools can apply for grants of up to £3,000 to run investigative STEM projects in partnership with STEM professionals from academia or industry.
On 31st May 2022, our Gardening Team, along with QCAP (Queen's Communities and Place), visited St. Malachy's Primary School in The Markets to teach students how to build bird boxes for Blue Tits and Robins. While they were there, our Gardening Team also helped tidy up the primary school's garden area- they even found some frogs while they were hard at work!
The students had a great time (as you can see from the big smiles!) and our Gardening Team enjoyed a morning of activities at the primary school.
This outing was a part of the ongoing work QCAP complete with their community partners and also part of the Gardening Team's mission to increase biodiversity at Queen's University and biodiversity within the local community.
The Alleyway Transformation Project works with local resident groups to transform unused spaces within South Belfast into vital community spaces with seating and planting. Queen’s students, staff and local residents have tided, painted and planted two alleyways – Miracle Way and Caledonia Alley. The volunteers work with Belfast artists to create murals that reflect the local community spirit. Further, the student volunteers and residential groups work in partnership with the ‘Live Here Love Here’ Campaign to ensure the area is continually maintained and enhanced via clean ups throughout South Belfast.
The School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering received £200 from the Green Fund to produce a digital timeline of their apple orchard. The below videos show the annual lifecycle of their apple trees from dormant, in blossom, early fruit, in leaf and fruit ready to be picked.
Queen's University Belfast has been awarded a prestigious Green Flag Award in the 2019 Green Flag Awards – becoming the first university in Northern Ireland to be recognised by the scheme. Hosted at Queen's this year on Tuesday 23 July 2019, the Green Flag Awards are judged annually by a panel of experts who volunteer their time to assess the management plans and the applicant sites through a rigorous judging process.
The Green Flag Award is the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the UK. It was first launched in 1996 to recognise and reward the best green spaces in the country and is an internationally recognised certification for environmental quality management for parks and open spaces. Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, an environmental charity, runs the scheme in Northern Ireland.
The University achieved Green Flag status for its Lanyon site by having a site management plan in place and ensuring compliance with a range of strict criteria including horticultural standards, cleanliness, environmental management, biodiversity, community involvement, and safety standards.
Queen's also received its first Green Heritage Award for the Lanyon site in recognition of the site's celebration and promotion of unique elements of its heritage. Paul Wallace, Head Gardener in the University's Grounds and Gardens team, also achieved special recognition at the awards ceremony, where he was awarded 'Employee of the Year'.
For more on this, click here.
A number of Staff and Student initiatives, funded via the Green Fund, are ensuring Queen's Campus is providing a range of species with 'homes'.
Queen’s University aims to be a world leader in environmental and sustainable activities by encouraging and supporting environmental behaviour change amongst staff and students.
To achieve this, raising awareness of their local environment is a priority. Queen's Wildlife Camera project, undertaken by the Porters, aims to engage and educate staff, students, and the local community about the importance of ‘green’ spaces within urban environments.
So far a range of species have been spotted! Can you identify any in the video?