A new study has revealed the University of Oxford is among the UK institutions doing the most to protect wildlife – meeting 100% of the ranking factors.
The University of Oxford met the criteria for the ‘platinum tier’, with wildlife protection policies, partnerships or funding for local wildlife causes, biodiversity or wildlife activities on offer and regular wildlife surveys.
The study, led by wildlife care experts Ark Wildlife, surveyed all UK universities on their wildlife initiatives and support – on and off campus.
The University of Oxford commits to promoting biodiversity on its grounds with multiple plans in place to protect wildlife at Wytham Woods. They also have a tree policy under production for the whole University Estate. Plus, it has several partnerships in the region, including the Freshwater Habitats Trust, Heritage Trees and Badger Trust.
The university also acts in partnership with Oxfordshire Preservation Trust and the colleges regarding meadow management on adjoining sites. Bear Wood – a new 6-acre woodland – is grant aided via a University Development Office fundraising exercise.
The institution’s contribution to local wildlife is evident in the opportunities for staff and students to participate in wildlife activities at Wytham Woods, which include citizen science projects like habitat monitoring and bee, butterfly and wildflower transects.
They also put on activities for the public, including bee boxes for colleges and schools, youth education on sustainability and specialist identification courses on topics like bees, badgers and dawn choruses.
How do other UK universities compare?
Almost a third (41 from 122) of the universities who responded scored top marks by supporting wildlife with a number of active measures. The majority (84%) of universities who responded are involved in at least one initiative for local wildlife, though there’s still plenty of room for improvement among UK universities.
The most commonly overlooked factor is biodiversity or wildlife activities for students: more than a quarter (35 from 122) of universities fail to offer these. Similarly, 31 universities have no policies in place for protecting wildlife, making animals on campus more vulnerable. The findings highlight the gap among UK universities and will lead to calls for higher standards of wildlife support and protection.
Sean McMenemy, Director at Ark Wildlife, said: “It’s clear that some universities are taking wildlife conservation extremely seriously, and it’s great to see. They’re really in tune with the local environment, providing invaluable habitats to animals in the area.
“Importantly, the most wildlife-friendly universities are actively encouraging students to become involved. This will breed greater awareness of conservation methods and just how vital wildlife is to the UK. Hopefully, it’ll also instil a lifelong love of animals and the environment in their graduates.”
The full report can be found on the Ark Wildlife website.