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Biodiversity

Biodiversity Initiatives

At Queen's University, we continuously make key efforts to enhance biodiversity found on and around campus.

Queen's Sign Up To All Ireland Pollinator Plan

In addition to the ongoing work of the Estates Team, we also monitor 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

Queen's Gardening Team & All Ireland Pollinator Plan

The Gardening Team within Queen's are always busy making sure pollinators have an abundance of food and shelter on campus.

The gardening team have:

  • Created several 'No Mow Areas' within Riddel Hall, at Ashby Hill, within the DKB Quad, on the MBC site between the MBC builing and Whitla Medical Building, at Elm's BT9 behind the Treehouse and a brand-new area at the PEC, resulting in a range of pollinators growing- buttercups, clover, selfheal and silene.
  • Planted species that are listed on the RSPB approved plant list (roughly 80% of all plants on site), including lupins, lavender, teugn, nepeta cataria, hellebores, grape hyacinth and anenome.
  • Planted orchards across our campus- you can find these at the DKB and Elm's BT9 Accommodation. The orchards include apple, cherry and plum trees.

The gardening team have also opted to not use pesticides on campus and limit the use of herbicide to treat hard surfaces for health and safety purposes only, and make sure to limit disruption to wildlife via a range of methods, including restricting hedge row cutting during bird nesting season.

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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 of 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.

Biodiversity Initiatives

With the help of friends such as SU Volunteer, Public Engagement and QCAP (Queen's Community and Place), our grounds and gardening team have been able to enhance biodiversity not only our our campus, but within the wider Belfast community.

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.

Bulb Planting at Riddel Hall
10 October 2023

On Tuesday 10 October, the Sustainability Team, the Grounds and Gardening Team and SUVolunteer’s Handy Helpers travelled up to Riddel Hall to plant winter bulbs and increase biodiversity in the area.

Overall, volunteers planted 4,760 native bulbs, which will provide essential food for pollinators in the springtime! A range of bulb varieties were planted, including:

  • Muscari armeniacum – 1000 bulbs
  • Hyacinthoides non-scripta – 360 bulbs
  • Crocus 'Ard Schenk' – 1000 bulbs
  • Crocus 'Flower Record' – 1000 bulbs
  • Crocus 'Yellow' – 1000 bulbs
  • Narcissus lobularis – 400 bulbs

Thank you to the volunteers that helped plant the bulbs, and a special thanks to the Gardeners who showed us what to do!

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

Queen's Sustainability and Gardening Teams have been busy working with students in West Winds Primary School, Newtownards and St. Malachy's Primary, The Markets, to help enhance biodiversity at their schools.

Tree Planting at West Winds Primary School
23 February 2022

The QUB Gardeners made the trip to Newtownwards to help the P7s of West Winds Primary School 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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Shaping Tomorrow's Nature-Keepers
21 October 2022

Over the past year, as part of Queen’s commitment to sustainability in collaboration with a Royal Society Partnership grant, academics have been working with West Winds Primary School in Newtownards on biodiversity projects, including the creation of a wildlife zone, a wildflower meadow and the creation of a small woodland.

With the assistance of Professor Mark Emmerson, a STEM partner from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen's, and the University's Gardening team, the school children have embarked on a journey to learn about the natural world and how to look after it.

The article can be read on the Queen’s website.

Bird Box Building and Garden Tidy Up
31 May 2022

The 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 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.

Windsor Women's Centre Christmas Tidy Up
12 December 2023

The Sustainability Team, Gardening Team and landscapers from Dalzell Landscape Company visited the Windsor Women's Centre Belfast to help them prepare for Christmas. This included tidying up their allotment area (which had become overgrown since COVID-19), and decorating the allotment to become a Winter Wonderland for Santa visiting next week.

This was a great day of volunteering for our teams and it really helped them get into the Christmas spirit! Thank you to Windsor Women's Centre Belfast for having us along, and letting us decorate the allotment, and also to Dalzell Landscape Company for working hard to clear the space and make it functional again- they completed the work in a few hours!

One Million Trees for Belfast
Queen's University are partners of the One Million Trees 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
Our Date With Nature
14 February 2024

On Valentine's Day 2024, the Sustainability team were joined by LEAF Technicians, students and the Sans Souci Residents Association, and planted 120 oak saplings around Malone Playing Fields as a way of showing our appreciation and love for nature. The oak saplings had been nurtured by Sans Souci residents in the Lennoxvale Tree Nursery for the last 1-2 years, and were ready to be transplanted to their new homes to hopefully grow into mighty oaks.

It was a fantastic morning, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed getting out in nature to give something back to the local area! This is one of many tree plantings events that the university hosts as part of the One Million Trees for Belfast Initiative created by Belfast City Council.

Tree Planting with People and Culture
27 November 2023

To mark National Tree Week, 26 native saplings have been planted at Malone Playing Fields on behalf of the 26 areas that achieved a response rate of 70 per cent or more in the Staff Survey.

People and Culture and the Staff Forum worked with the University Sustainability Team to pledge a commitment that the University would plant a tree for each area that achieved a response rate of 70 per cent or more in the Staff Survey. This pledge was made in line with the University’s commitment to sustainability and ensured that colleagues’ responses to the survey would make a positive impact on the environment by enhancing our biodiversity.

Malone Playing Fields Tree Planting
16 November 2022

In partnership with SU Volunteer, Public Engagement, The Conservation Volunteers and Sans Souci Residents Association, Queen's community planted 500+ saplings as part of the Belfast City Council One Million Trees for Belfast Initiative.

The majority of saplings started life as acorns collected from Belvoir Forest and cared for by Sans Souci Residents and The Conservation Volunteers at Lennoxvale Tree Nursery. The nursery formed in 2019 on a vacant brown field site within Queen’s Campus.  

Along with 400 saplings provided by Lennoxvale Tree Nursery and 100 from the Grounds and Garden Team at Queen’s, the trees have now been replanted at Malone Playing Fields.

Thank you to everyone who took part, especially to Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Michelle Kelly who came along to the event.

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Tree Planting at Elm's BT9
16 March 2022

Staff, students and local residents have rejuvenated a vacant brownfield site into Lennoxvale Tree Nursery. The nursery is a great place to grow native trees, and has allowed for 1000 trees to be nurtured since 2019, all of which have been planted within Belfast as part of the One Million Trees for Belfast Initiative. This project was imagined by the local Sans Souci Residents Association and 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 60 trees 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.

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Hedgerow Planting at the Ashby Building
1 March 2022

The QUB Gardening team, with the help of SU Volunteer, 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 Awards

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 in 2019 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.

The University are incredibly proud to have been continually awarded Green Flag status. The award recognises the university's commitment to good environmental practice, whilst ensuring our staff, students and members of the community have an accessible green space they can enjoy for free. 

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