Sustainable Development Goals – Canterbury Campus Trail (coming soon)

The Sustainable Development Goals (also known as the Global Goals or SDGs) are 17 goals that outline a vision for a sustainable world by 2030. The 17 goals and underlying targets were created and signed by 193 countries at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015.

The goals seek to finish the job that was started by the Millennium Goals which ran from 2000 to 2015 and brought 850,000,000 people out of extreme poverty and yet saw carbon emissions increase by 9,850,000 kilotons.

The University of Kent has signed the SDG Education Accord that commits us to embedding all 17 goals into our operations, teaching and research. As part this we would like all staff and students to become familiar with the goals by getting out and about across campus and discovering all 17.

Launching in autumn 2020 a new trail around campus showcases each of the 17 goals whilst leading you across central campus and to the Kent Community Oasis Garden.

The trail starts with SDG 1: No Poverty, which aims to eradicate extreme poverty and reduce overall poverty by 50% by 2030. You will find this post on central campus near the Library.

The trail ends with SDG 17: Partnerships, which you will find at the Kent Community Oasis Garden, our flagship community partnership project at the Canterbury campus where food growing is used as a way of meeting new people, reducing stress, learning new skills and getting some fresh air.

Please check back once the trail has been installed for more information and a map of all the posts.

What has changed in 35 years?

The original nature trail on the Canterbury campus was devised in 1985 and written by John Kesby and Ian Swingland. Here are the opening paragraphs from the original guide:

“The nature trail around the University’s 300 acre campus, with its magnificent hillside setting overlooking the Cathedral City of Canterbury and the valley of the Great Stour, has been devised for the benefit of its staff and students, members of the local community and of the thousands of people who visit us during the year, be they conference delegates or holiday makers.

The trail combines the opportunity for attractive walks around the grassy slopes, ponds and woodland of the campus with a challenge to discover how much you can see or hear of the abundant wildlife around us. This brochure will guide you to places where you can find nightingales, willow warblers, great spotted woodpeckers and even the occasional kingfisher, to observe damselflies or Essex skippers; to watch out for lizards, newts, three-spinned sticklebacks or voles; to identify parrot wax caps, prickly lettuce, bristly ox tongue or red goosefoot. We hope it will be enjoyed by those who have difficulty putting a name to even the most common flora and fauna. At the same time, we hope it will be of interest to knowledgeable naturalists and of value to parties from the schools of other groups of wildlife enthusiasts.”

Whilst the description of the campus overlooking the Cathedral may still ring true the list of species that could be seen on campus in 1985 would be much shorter today.

In order to map out what we have lost it is useful to fully understand what we had. Thankfully we have a few copies left of the 1985 guide with its detailed species lists. The Sustainability Team will be digitising all of this information so that it will be available to everyone so that as a community we can start to identify what we still have on campus, what is hard to find and what is gone.

Some trends of population decline go far beyond what we control on campus, however, there may be some species that are found locally that we may be able to encourage back through how we manage our campus and connect to habitats beyond our borders.

We would like students, staff and community members to help us with this undertaking by, in the first instance, recording what they spot. Big or small, common or rare we want to know what you have seen and where you have seen it. At the moment we are just asking people email their information into us at sustainability@kent.ac.uk and we will collate it all as a first step to building a clear picture of what we have on campus.

We are also working on rejuvenating the information about the nature trails and rerouting the original trail around some of the new buildings on campus that now block the original route.

If you are interested in this project and want to volunteer your time on this, please do get in touch.

Maximising our green space at Medway

The Medway campus has a patch of green space that is underused and not particularly relaxing to spend time in (it is next to a busy road). However, the Medway sustainability group
made up predominantly of champions from Student Services know it has great potential to be developed into a space that could provide an alternative to an otherwise urban environment.

We aim to maximise the limited green space at the Medway campus by creating a quiet space for reflection that can be utilised by students, staff and the wellbeing team. As a group we have come up with a series of ideas and designs that utilise the campus’ small patch of woodland as a focal point for a wellbeing and art trail, incorporating music and natural sounds to break up the noise from the road. This will provide a unique space for alternative outdoor therapy for students accessing the University’s mental health services, and a space for all campus users to get away from it all.


We are now at the stage where we want to turn our ideas into a reality and are looking for students and staff to join our group to help us create a space that we can all benefit from.
We are looking for people who will bring new ideas into the group, are resourceful and are happy to volunteer their time on the site. At the moment we are on a break due to the Covid 19 pandemic, however if you would like to join the Medway Sustainability Group please email sustainability@kent.ac.uk and we will add you to our mailing list.

What is coppicing?

At the University of Kent we carry out coppicing across the Canterbury campus as part of our woodland management plans.
The practice of coppicing can be dated back to the Stone Age and is the traditional woodland management technique of repeatedly felling trees at the base and allowing them to regrow. On campus we usually wait around 15 years for a tree to regrow before we fell it again. We work on defined areas within our woodlands, coppicing one section each winter then moving onto the next section a year later. This means we end up with a very diverse range of ages in our trees across our three areas of woodland – Parkwood, Brotherhood wood and Bluebell blue.
Coppicing was traditionally done in order to provide a sustainable supply of timber, however this is not why we coppice at Kent. Our primary goal for coppicing is to improve the health of our trees and create additional benefits for other wildlife. Coppicing is a human intervention that somewhat simulates the act of retrenching (when trees naturally drop their branches to extend their life) which helps our trees live longer within our woodlands. By removing sections of canopy we are increasing the amount of light that can reach the woodland floor. This allows other species of vegetation that are dormant in the seed bank in the soil the chance to grow and increase the diversity of that area. This increase in vegetation increases the amount of habitat and forage opportunities for insects, birds and mammals.
When we coppice we do not clear fell the sections, instead we ensure that very mature trees are left in place, species such as oak and ask are left and we leave a proportion of ivy, holly and bramble to ensure there is cover and forage for other species. We also leave any newly emerging vegetation and any deadwood we find which is useful for insects.
Whilst coppicing we also take the opportunity to remove any invasive vegetation from the area and collect any litter we uncover.

Hedgehog Awareness Week 3rd – 9th May

Hedgehog Awareness Week is organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and takes place every year. It aims to highlight the problems hedgehogs face and how you can help them.

The hedgehog is in trouble, with populations plummeting 50% since 2000. Increasing habitat loss means hedgehogs are moving out of their rural homes and into built areas. But here they face a whole host of challenges, including road traffic, litter, poisoning and lack of access to food and water. In 2019 the RSPCA saw Hedgehog admissions to their wildlife centres break all records with 2770 hedgehogs being admitted.  Reasons for this include variations in weather causing a reduction in food availability meaning hedgehogs struggling to make it through the winter.

We are lucky enough to have hedgehogs on our campus however, the roads that cut through campus are causing particular issues with hedgehogs being hit by vehicles, as well as litter causing issues for hedgehogs and other wildlife on campus.

In July 2019 The University launched it’s participation in the Hedgehog Friendly Campus project- created at the University of Sheffield to use the unique spaces that university campuses are, to raise awareness of the plight of UK hedgehogs and take action to safeguard their future.

The University has a hedgehog action group made up of student and staff volunteers from across the University working together to address these issues. This group has taken a number of actions to help support hedgehogs on campus including litter picking, awareness raising and providing toolbox talks for the Landscape and Grounds Team so that they know what to do if they find an injured hedgehog, how to check for them before strimming and what are the biggest risks to hedgehogs on campus.

The University was awarded a Bronze certificate for its efforts by the Hedgehog Friendly Campus Project earlier this year and since then the action group have been developing plans for further initiatives we can do, including surveying and signage.

Whilst we are all in lockdown there are number of things we can all do to help support local hedgehogs, especially those of us that have gardens. Simple actions like: creating a log pile, checking areas before strimming, and building a hedgehog home can make a huge difference to your local population of hedgehogs. This year the BHPS are asking people to talk to their neighbours (from a distance) about cutting a CD case sized hole in the bottom of fences to create a hedgehog highway between gardens.

You can find out more information about things you can do on the BHPS website and get involved with the University of Kent Hedgehog action group by emailing sustainability@kent.ac.uk. Throughout the week the Sustainability Team will be posting tips, actions and activities on their Instagram @unikent.sustainability

You can also download some activities for children by clicking on the images below:

The University of Kent is working to become a Hedgehog Friendly Campus!

Hedgehogs are declining rapidly in the UK, with populations dropping by up to 50% since 2000. Loss of habitat and exposure to many threats, such as road traffic, litter, poisoning from slug pellets and lack of food, are having a significant effect on this iconic mammal.

The University of Kent is working to help make its Canterbury campus a safer place for hedgehogs. Hedgehog Friendly Campus is a national accreditation scheme through NUS and funded by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Through signing up to the Hedgehog Friendly Campus scheme, Kent aims to improve staff and student awareness about the decline of hedgehogs and hedgehog friendly behaviour, and look into how we can help our hedgehogs living on campus.

Our Hedgehog Friendly Campus working group is made up of staff and students from across the University. The group runs awareness campaigns, organises events, such as litter picks and hedgehog surveying, and promotes hedgehog friendly practices.

If you are interested in helping our campus hedgehogs, please get in touch with: sustainability@kent.ac.uk

If you see a hedgehog that looks injured, sick or out in the daytime, contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584890801 and/or take it to your local vets – find more advice here.

https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/found-a-hedgehog/

Did you know hedgehogs are nocturnal? This photo was taken at night using clever filters to enhance the lighting conditions. If you ever see a hedgehog out during daylight it could be a sign of distress. Check out our online guides that can help you take the right course of action, if any is required. Hedgehog Preservation Society.