Enhancing campus biodiversity with students, staff and other campus users

Blog by Anna Heikkinen and Jere Nieminen

Conference travel may have far-reaching consequences – also other than climate change related. In September 2018, our Business to Nature (B2N) Research Group attended a corporate responsibility conference in Leeds, UK, to present our research findings on the generation of urban nature in stakeholder collaboration. Prior to the conference – through some online research – we found out that Leeds University has been very progressive in creating nature in the campus. The obvious next step for us to was to contact the university facility services to arrange a tour of the campus areas. In the tour, we learned about the sustainable garden, the library green roof and meadows, which inspired us to think how we could generate something similar for our campus too.

Leeds University Sustainability Garden / Jere Nieminen

Campus Nature: Biodiversity as a part of campus life, teaching and research

In Spring 2019, Campus Nature research and development project was launched at the Tampere University. The project creates new green areas at the university’s city centre campus in collaboration with campus users, i.e. students, staff and other stakeholders such as Tampere citizens, visitors and passers-by. The project focuses on three sub-projects: a green roof, two campus meadows, and a vision for a roof garden. The sub-projects are realised in an open process of co-design and co-development with campus users to enhance biodiversity, collaboration and recreational opportunities in campus and in the city of Tampere, as the city centre campus is located in the city centre.

Campus meadow illustration / Jere Nieminen

The green roof project redevelops an existing roof of an underpass (of 390 m2) into a green roof. The roof is well visible from the surrounding terrain and buildings. Redevelopment of the roof is the first phase in the project and the co-design process involves a green roof survey targeted to all campus users.  The survey gathers ideas for underpass green roof design by introducing different types of green roofs that could be used on the underpass. Based on the survey results, the roof design will be decided by the project researchers in collaboration with landscape architects.

The campus meadows will be constructed on two locations (both 200–250 m2). Both areas are sun-exposed and next to central campus pathways. The existing terrain will be removed and native Finnish plant species will be sown to generate a meadow.

The vision for a roof garden means that the project facilitates co-designing a vision for the renewal of a large roof deck in the university main building. The main building was constructed in 1960’s and the roof deck is currently under-used as the area is highly exposed to sun and rain – depending on the weather. This roof deck is a very central area in the city centre campus and thus a fruitful opportunity for generating communal campus nature areas.

School meadow as a start for enhancing the biodiversity of the university campus

We already have experience of constructing a dry sun-exposed meadow near the Tampere University Teacher Training School at Nekala, Tampere. The school meadow was established in the autumn of 2018. At school meadow, the seeds were sown and saplings were planted by elementary school students of the school as a part of their biology studies. School meadow is also a site of ecological compensation for a very rare moth Anacampsis fuscella. More information about the Nekala school meadow in Finnish: https://sykoy.fi/tampereen-yliopiston-normaalikoululle-alueen-biodiversiteettia-lisaava-kouluniitty/

Seeds and Sowing seeds at the school meadow / Jere Nieminen

Anna Heikkinen in a Senior Research Fellow at the B2N Research Group, Tampere University. Anna.L.Heikkinen@tuni.fi

Jere Nieminen is a Post-doctoral Researcher at the B2N Research Group, Tampere University, Jere.Nieminen@tuni.fi.

B2N Research Group conducts research on stakeholder-driven value creation ecosystem services and on the generation of urban nature. Campus Nature is a joint project of B2N Research Group, the University Properties of Finland Ltd and Tampere University. The project is funded for 2019 by the University Properties of Finland Ltd and Tampere University and the project budget is EUR 94.500,00. For more information, please see: http://www.b2n.fi/kampusluonto/.

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