UK (University of Sussex) University of Sussex launches consultation on setting aside up to half of its campus to nature

Today the University of Sussex is asking its students, staff, alumni and neighbours how much of its campus it should set aside for nature. Already one of the most biodiverse campuses in the UK with 38 percent of its land counting as green, the University is canvassing views on how much more of its campus to set aside for nature.

Participants will be able to contribute views on whether certain areas are suitable to enable us to devote 40, 45 or 50 percent of the University campus to nature, considering maps setting out the options, and can submit their views via the website.

‘Land set aside for nature’ refers to areas of land that are either not managed or are managed at a low level to encourage nature to develop. For example, this could involve passive rewilding, where management is removed to allow nature to decide how the habitat develops over time.

Today, the University also publishes its Annual Sustainability and Sustainable Development Goals Report. This Report covers not only research, but also policy, outreach, and operational practice on sustainability at Sussex on over 560 different performance metrics. It demonstrates just how many people across the University contribute to sustainability leadership and the initiatives in place to see Sussex become one of the most sustainable universities in the world.

The report reflects on all aspects of environmental, economic and social sustainability at Sussex, addressing all 17 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, Professor Sasha Roseneil says:

“The University of Sussex community is passionate about environmental sustainability, and we are home to world-leading experts whose research is paving the way to a greener and more sustainable world. Our commitment to environmental sustainability is at the core of our mission as a university. It is in this context that we are now consulting about plans to make our beautiful campus even greener. In conversation with our community, we will decide how much of campus to dedicate to nature. I look forward to lively discussions about this.

“This year’s annual Sustainability and Sustainable Development Goals Report shows the dedication that exists to transformational research, education and institutional action right across the university. But we also acknowledge that we can and must do more in order to meet the deep-seated challenges facing the planet.

The University of Sussex has recently been ranked third in the UK for sustainable institutions and 55th in the world for overall sustainability performance in the first ever QS Sustainability Rankings. It is greatly encouraging to see our sustainability efforts being recognised in this way, and we will intensify our efforts in the years to come.”

Dr Christopher Sandom, Senior Lecturer in Biology at the University of Sussex has been instrumental in the Big Biodiversity Conversation, helping to lead a number of projects to increase biodiversity on campus.

Speaking about the consultation on how much of campus to devote to nature, Dr Sandom explains:

“It’s great to see the University committing itself to creating more space for nature. I’m part of a team setting up the Love Your Scrub rewilding project on campus, where we’ll run wild with nature. It’s a brilliant way to create habitat for wildlife, get people connected to nature, and it’s a fantastic teaching resource as well. I hope the university community get behind devoting as much space as possible to nature on campus, so we can strive to be net positive for biodiversity as soon as possible. I strongly encourage anyone interested in this to take part in this consultation. ”

In March 2022, the Big Biodiversity Conversation was launched to improve the biodiversity of the Sussex campus and achieve a biodiversity net gain.

The first stage of the conversation gave the Sussex community the opportunity to suggest practical biodiversity projects on or around campus. The second stage sees the launch of the consultation.

The campus consultation stems from the Big Biodiversity Conversation, an initiative launched this year alongside the Sussex community to help shape decisions around the university’s biodiversity plans. As outlined in the Sussex Biodiversity Policy, the university has a vision to become the most biodiverse campus in the UK.

The annual report highlights the many efforts of the University of Sussex and its community to ensure that sustainability is embedded into all aspects of learning, experience and practice across the University. Last month we announced that following a student-led review of our curriculum, the Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students are now doubling down on the university’s existing commitment to ensure that sustainability is taught within all degrees as part of the curriculum reimagined process.