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.

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.

How to make recycled planters from household objects

During any extended periods of time at home, it’s always good to surround yourself with plant life.  A sunflower growing at the bottom of the garden can bring such joy, and nurturing aromatic and tasty herbs on your windowsill can bring even more satisfaction. All you need is a pack of seeds and a handful of compost and off you go! No outside space, or stuck without a pot? Here’s how to convert some household objects into planters without the hassle or expense of visiting the shops.

Newspaper Pots

 You will need:

  • Newspaper
  • Tin can
  • Compost
  • Seeds

Making paper pots out of newspapers is fun and a great way to recycle.  Once the pots are made, you can plant them up and wait for your produce to grow, place the pots directly into the ground without having to disturb your plants. Easy, so lets give it a try.

  • Find an old newspaper and take one sheet out
  • Fold length ways so you have a long strip of newspaper
  • Take a recycled tin can (with lid removed) and place the solid end along the folded edge of the newspaper
  • Wrap the paper loosely around the tin and roll around until you have a tube around the tin
  • Fold one edge of the paper into the hole of the tin
  • Remove the tin from its sleeve
  • Put the tin, flat end first, back into the paper pot and squish the paper flat inside the pot
  • Ta da! Your pot is ready to fill with compost
  • Water your pot, then plant up with seed (sunflowers or beans are good) and cover with a thin layer of compost
  • Water again and place in a warm sunny spot, keep moist
  • When your plants have grown and are ready to plant outside, place the entire pot into the soil, the paper will break down and your plants will grow happily out of the pot

Fabric Tin Can Planters

You will need:

  • Tin cans
  • Hammer & Nail
  • Doubled sided sticky tape
  • Recycled fabric (in strips)
  • Scissors
  • Compost & Seeds (seasonal herbs or bulbs)

Brighten up any windowsill with these easy to make recycled fabric tin planters.  Perfect for growing herbs or spring bulbs in on a budget and great for the environment too.

  • Wash out your used tin cans, remove any paper labels and bang two or three drainage holes in the bottom using a hammer and nail (on a work surface like a chopping board).
  • Cut some old fabric into strips about 2cm thick and long enough to wrap around your tin. They don’t have to be neat.
  • Stick a strip of double sided sticky tape around the tin at the bottom of your tin can, cut to make a sticky ring all around.
  • Add one strip of fabric on top of the tape, cut off any excess fabric so each end meets.
  • Add another layer of sticky tape above your fabric and overlay another strip of fabric in another colour for contrast, trim and make sure you don’t leave a gap between the first and second fabric strip, each strip should overlap the one before.
  • Repeat the process all the way up the tin until you reach the top, trim any excess fabric around the top edge, or fold the fabric over the top if the edge is sharp, being careful to stick it down with a layer of tape first.
  • Add decorations to finish your multi fabric masterpiece! Wrap string around it and tie in a bow, add ribbon or glue on buttons, let your creativity shine.
  • Now your planter is ready to plant; add seed compost to the tin, water, then sprinkle your herb seeds, or plant a Spring bulb following the packet guidelines. Cover with another layer of compost, water again and keep in a warm sunny spot watering regularly. Then see your creation come to life!

Recycled Milk Bottle 5x Ways

You will need:

  • Plastic Milk Bottles (x5)
  • Craft Knife
  • Hammer & Nail (or sharp pointed object like a scewer)
  • Compost
  • Seeds – bird seeds and herb seeds to plant
  • Marker pen
  • Kebab sticks
  • String

Making a new use for any object is fun, but making five uses out of your used plastic milk bottles is incredible!

  1. Bird feeder
  • Draw a large circle on the bottle to make a hole to let birds inside to feed on the seed (at least 2 cm from the bottom)
  • Carefully cut the hole out using a craft knife
  • Screw a smaller hole underneath the big hole
  • Insert a kebab stick into the small hole to act as a perch for the birds to land on
  • Screw a hole through the lid of the bottle, feed an arms length of string through the hole, and tie several knots in the end that screws inside the bottle
  • Loop the other end of string and tie so you have a loop you can hang on a tree branch or hook outside
  • Screw the lid on the bottle
  • Fill the base with birdseed, its ready to go!
  1. Sprinkling watering bottle
  • Remove the lid from your bottle and place over something soft like a cushion, screw side up (to ensure a good flow)
  • With a screw or hammer and nail, make several small holes in the lid for the water to sprinkle out
  • Fill the bottle with water
  • Screw the lid back on and you have a practical sprinkling watering bottle to place near your plants, this is especially good for seedlings and your plants that need delicate watering
  1. Scoop
  • Place your water bottle on its side with the handle facing up
  • Draw a scoop shape around the bottle starting from the top edge of the bottle, half way along, down in a rainbow shaped arch to the bottom edge of the bottle at the base
  • Cut along the top edge to meet each scoop shaped arch
  • Job done, you have a scoop perfect for filling your pots from the compost bag
  1. Plant labels
  • With any spare plastic you have, utilise for plant labels by cutting into strips about 1cm wide by 8cm long (finger size)
  • Trim one edge to a point and set aside for your planting projects
  • Use a marker pen to label your pots so the plant names do not wash off when watering
  • You have a invaluable stash of plant labels at your fingertips!
  1. Self-draining planter
  • Cut a milk bottle around its centre in half carefully using a craft knife
  • Remove the lid from the bottle and turn the milk bottle top half upside down
  • Place the top half of the bottle back into the bottom half of the bottle, so the bottle ‘mouth’ is face down at the bottle base
  • You are ready to fill the container with compost and plant some seeds! When you water, the water will collect in the base and your plant will be happy and stay moist

Good luck with making these, and send some lovely photos to kentcog@kent.ac.uk

All the best,

Emily Hill Kent Community Oasis Garden Coordinator

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.

Happy Valentine’s Day to the lunchtime walk

On this chilly February afternoon I took a walk.

I am an advocate for the lunchtime walk. I love a lunchtime walk.

I walk alone, or with a friend. I walk listening to music, in silence, chatting. I have been know to attempt to walk whilst reading a book (not advisable). Ideally I would walk with a dog.

I like to use my whole lunch break to roam the campus and surrounding area then quickly stuff some food in my mouth at my desk. Now this is not ideal for everyone and probably not the best for my digestive system but whether you take a quick 15 popping to the shop and back, or use the full hour like me to explore you are doing wonders for yourself.

The physical and mental health benefits of walking are well documented – from helping your posture, getting your heart beating a little quicker, improving your concentration and reducing stress.

On many a walk I have solved a problem where the solution has alluded me all morning; I have also planned a whole party on a walk; and had one or two (self-proclaimed) bright ideas!  Being away from my desk and more importantly my computer seems to gives my brain room to come up with a more creative approach to a challenge.

Walking during lunch with a friend and colleague means we can catch up on all the non-related work business of the day, put the worlds to right and on this Valentine’s Day probably bemoan or celebrate our love lives (or lack off – delete as appropriate!).

But, with all that said, my favourite walks are the one where I have nothing on my mind and therefore get to spend more time noticing what is actually around me.

You never really know what you will stumble upon. A wigwam in the woods. A fierce battle between two male robins fighting over resources. A lost visitor who is at the completely wrong end of campus!

This is my love letter to the lunchtime walk. Leave your desk, go outside. take a deep breath and go. You do not have to go far for the chance to fall in love with nature everyday.