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Biodiversity

Biodiversity

All Ireland Pollinator Plan
Queen's University Belfast sign up to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan

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.

Queen's Garden Team and the All Ireland Pollinator Plan

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!

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Queen's Sign Up To All Ireland Pollinator Plan

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: sustainability@qub.ac.uk

Nurture and Grow Programme
Green Gown Award 2020 Winner

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.

Lennoxvale Tree Nursery

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.

Elm's BT9 Student Allotment

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.

The aim of the BT9 Student Allotment was to promote the importance of green spaces around the university, increase biodiversity, and support mental wellbeing and mindfulness by providing an area for relaxation. The project has proven to be a resounding success. The society currently has seven beds planted with a range of plants and vegetables, including potatoes, onions, and daffodils. With the help of the Conservation Volunteers the society has also created an apple orchard on site. Future plans include implementing composting and continuing to host a range of workshops. To get involved in the allotment please email rlcbt9@qub.ac.uk

The Alleyway Transformation Project

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.

Engaging with School's
Queen's University Gardener's engage with Primary School Students

The Sustainability and Gardening Team within Queen's have been busy working with students in West Winds Primary School and St. Malachy's Primary School around enhancing biodiversity within their grounds.

Tree Planting at West Winds Primary School

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.

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Bird Box Building and Garden Tidying

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.

Million Tree's for Belfast
Queen's University are partners within the Million Tree's for Belfast Initiative

Belfast One Million Trees was inspired by an original idea from the Belfast Metropolitan Residents Group and it is a collaboration between public, private and voluntary sector partners.

One Million Trees
Hedgerow Planting at the Ashby Building

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.

DKB Orchard

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.

Digital Timeline of DKB Orchard
Green Flag

Queen's University Belfast has been awarded a prestigious Green Flag Award since 2019 – becoming the first university in Northern Ireland to be recognised by the scheme. 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.

Green Flag 2022

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 2019 awards ceremony, where he was awarded 'Employee of the Year'.

Since 2019, Queen's University have continued to be awarded Green Flag. In 2022, the University received a commendation in the inaugural NI Pollinator Awards for various activities undertaken across the University to encourage pollinators.

Queen’s Wildlife Survey's

With the help of staff and students across campus, Queen's are continually aiming to increase the number and range of wildlife surveys they undertake, which includes a number of citizen science surveys.

Wildlife Surveys

Increasingly, Queen's University are investing in biodiversity initiatives to ensure our campus is providing a home for wildlife. To ensure what we are doing is supporting our local wildlife, the number and range of biodiversity surveys taking part across campus needs to continually increase. 

This has resulted in a range of staff and student projects:

  • Queen's Wildlife Camera Project undertaken by the Porters
  • School of Biological Sciences Living Lab Surveys
  • The Sustainability and Gardening Team undertaking a range of citizen science surveys