What is biodiversity and why is it important?
Shorthand for ‘biological diversity’, the term refers to all living organisms and ecosystems on the planet. The abundance of habitats in which biodiversity can be found is essential to providing the vital elements such as fresh water, oxygen, sustenance and other critical resources required for our long-term survival.
Reasons why we should conserve biodiversity:
- To reduce the rate of species extinction
- To provide the green spaces that benefit people’s health, fitness and happiness
- To save money on landscape-intensive horticulture
- To reduce local carbon dioxide levels
- To reduce flooding. Green spaces act as ‘sinks’ in flood risk zones.
How we are promoting biodiversity
As a higher education establishment and a leader in the local community we have a responsibility to protect and enhance our biodiversity performance and contribute to sector-wide efforts (largely guided and contained within Sustainable Development in Higher Education). This is also an integral component as we work towards our full EcoCampus accreditation, equivalent to ISO14001 standard.
Our campuses consist of natural, semi-natural and landscaped environments which provide a good mix of habitats. These include the heritage-protected garden located at the John Foster Building, various green roofs, the wildflower garden at Byrom Street, and vast green and natural space at IM Marsh. These are key contributing areas for biodiversity cultivation and feed into a broader agenda to enhance the natural resources in and around the University.
Biodiversity is also taught within some of our academic programmes, for example on the BSc (Hons) Wildlife Conservation, as well as within research programmes in the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, and the Department of Built Environment. Our students also have the opportunity to take on active roles in biodiversity through various societies within the Liverpool Student Union.
We will continue to enhance and protect our heritage for the benefit of the University as well as the wider community. Our policy, available from the link at the bottom of this page, outlines our plans for maintaining and expanding this approach, particularly with regard to the planting of trees, shrubs and perennial plants.
What you can do
Some ways that you can help protect biodiversity.
Build a nesting box
Even if you don't have a lush garden with trees you can still help small animals by putting up a simple nest box on your wall outside. Small birds and bats love these especially in built up areas like Liverpool. There are plenty of websites which show you how to make your own.
Use an alternative to pesticide
Don't want to suffer slugs? Instead of buying pesticide, place near-empty beer cans in problematic areas. The slugs will be drawn to the beer instead of your plants and get trapped in the can so you can move them the next day.
Create a bottle wall garden
When you're finished with your plastic bottles, cut out a section on one side, fill with soil, and pop in your seeds or plants. Simply attach with wire or string to a couple of nails on your outside wall. Search online to see whole walls filled with these.
Join an urban growing group
There are plenty of community gardens and urban growing groups in and around Liverpool. These are great opportunities to get to know people in your neighbourhood, improve local biodiversity, create a pretty space to relax in if you don’t have a garden of your own, and reap the benefits and cost-savings of home-grown food.
Feed the bees
Did you know that over 60% of the crops which feed the world are pollinated by bees? Try to plant bee-friendly flowers which season at different times of the year to provide a consistent flow of nectar for these important insects.
Make a bird cake
Fill a yoghurt pot (which has been punctured through the bottom and a piece of string securely attached) with a mixture of lard, nuts and seeds, and grated cheese. Once it's set in the fridge, hang the cake outside and wait for the birds to come.
Use wine bottles for feeders
Not sure what to do with those empty wine bottles? Simply fill them with water, quickly turn them upside down and push the bottom neck into your plant pot. This keeps your plants going for days.
If you have a small garden or not much grass try hanging some plants from the walls instead. These provide instant colour and vibrancy in your garden while also helping biodiversity.
Help the hedgehogs
Can't be bothered to clear your garden or yard? Just put all logs, dry wood and moss, etc. in one corner and make a little habitat for hedgehogs and beetles.
Create windowsill boxes
If you're not too sure about trying to grow your own vegetables or herbs in the garden or you don't have the outside space, try creating planters on your windowsill. You can try growing basil, mint, French beans, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes and radishes. If you do have the space, or a warm conservatory, you can even grow your own mini oranges.
As part of our sustainability programme and to progress LJMU's EcoCampus accreditation, we are exploring a number of initiatives and activities to strengthen our biodiversity performance. These could include sustainable gardening opportunities, interaction with regional and national biodiversity action plans, independent food growing efforts and increasing the outdoors and biodiversity awareness across the University. We will also work towards biodiversity enhancement in future landscaping plans.
If you have any suggestions or comments about our biodiversity plans please get in touch.
- UK Biodiversity Framework – designed to show how the work of the four UK countries joins up with work at a UK level to achieve biodiversity targets
- Securing the Future – strategy for delivering sustainable development in the UK which acknowledges global partnership in reducing biodiversity loss and an increasing precautionary and protective approach to biodiversity and the built environment