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On World Environment Day, Solent Environmental Officer Liz Harris explores the university’s biodiversity efforts

5th June 2020
Maritime website

World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June every year, and this year the theme is biodiversity. With the world in lockdown this Spring, the importance of biodiversity to humanity has perhaps never been clearer. Many people have been connecting with the natural world and the wildlife on their doorstep and have found comfort in spending in time their gardens and local green spaces.

Many also want green issues to be at the heart of economic plans as the world emerges from the virus and are calling on governments and decision makers to make ecological stability integral to the post-Covid recovery. If these unprecedented times have taught us anything, it’s that to take care of ourselves, we must take care of nature.

No matter where we live, we can all take action for wildlife and our natural world. If you’re looking for tips and inspiration then The Wildlife Trust’s 30DaysWild Challenge is a great place to start. From planting bee-friendly plants, to providing a dish of water for wildlife, to changing travel habits and supporting nature-friendly farming through the food we buy, there are many things we can each do for nature that will make a difference.

Solent University is making space for nature across its all its sites. The native wildflower meadow at our East Park Terrace campus is buzzing at this time of year, providing pollen and nectar-rich flowers for bumblebees, hoverflies, moths and butterflies. In autumn and winter, meadow areas left uncut create shelter for overwintering insects and are a food source for Goldfinchs and other seed-eating birds. In the heart of the campus, The Quad has been sown this year with a mix of cornfield annuals, Phacelia tanacetifolia and Echium vulgare, all of which are brilliant for bees.

Timsbury Lake in Romsey is home to the University’s Ship Handling Centre, and as well as being world-class maritime training facility, it’s also a haven for wildlife including otter, water vole, fresh water mussel, great crested newt and eight species of bat. In addition to the main lake where training takes place, the site features a biodiverse mix of ponds, streams, woodland, bankside vegetation, scrub and shrub. The site is medieval in origin and over 30 species of ancient woodland plants have been recorded, indicating the historic nature of the woodland.

As custodian of Timsbury Lake, the University undertakes routine habitat management and species monitoring. Most recently, scrub and tree saplings were removed around the pond complex in winter to open up the habitat and allow marginal aquatic vegetation to regenerate, providing shelter for great created newt and foraging opportunities for water vole.

If you’d like to hear more about the Solent’s biodiversity plans or have suggestions for nature-based initiatives at the University then please get in touch at liz.harris@solent.ac.uk.