Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE)
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Assessing campus biodiversity

A web-based tool to measure plant diversity on university and college campuses has been developed by the University of Northampton with funds from HEFCE.

The Biodiversity Index is an interactive system which allows organisations with little or no knowledge of biodiversity to assess the level of plant diversity on their land quickly, simply and scientifically.

What does the Biodiversity Index do?

Biodiversity refers to the number and variety of all forms of life – living organisms, the genetic differences between them and the ecosystems in which they occur.

The index enables universities and colleges to identify their different habitats and to make a simple but scientific assessment of the plant diversity of those habitats. The website then makes calculations based on the data, and gives a biodiversity score, a summary and a printable report.

The Index offers tips on how to improve the diversity of habitats, with links to further reading and advice. Many of these suggestions are cost-neutral, and some may actually save money while improving biodiversity. Users of the Biodiversity Index can access information to help them:

  • develop a Biodiversity Action Plan
  • identify a range of activities to benefit biodiversity on campus
  • fulfil corporate social responsibility goals
  • fulfil responsibilities as a public body under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006
  • raise staff engagement in biodiversity conservation.

Steve Egan, HEFCE Deputy Chief Executive, said:

‘We are pleased to have supported a project with long-term benefits for the environment as well as for the users of the index. This is a cost effective tool which offers universities, colleges and others many benefits’.

The Biodiversity Index was funded by the HEFCE Leadership, Governance and Management Fund. It is available for free to all higher education institutions in the UK and to date around 30 have used the tool. A priced version of the product will soon be available for other sectors.

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