The University of Tasmania has joined a global network of more than 400 universities, launched by the UN Environmental Program in collaboration with University of Oxford, to commit to a Nature Positive journey.
Being a Nature Positive University means committing to restoring species and ecosystems that have been harmed by the impacts of a university and its activities and enhancing the university’s positive impacts on nature.
The University of Tasmania has been on a nature positive journey for some time, having already completed a species assessment of all our campuses, including identifying those that are of concern, threatened or endangered. We also have assessed weeds, natural values, and threats.
The University’s most recent assessment occurred in early 2019. This included natural values of conservation concern and the main threats, such as flora, fauna, and plant communities that are threatened in Tasmania, as well as invasive flora and fauna, protected areas, and sea level rise risk found at University properties and within 500m of the property boundaries.
Our pledge recognises actions we’ve already taken and that we will build on these, including:
- The inclusion of the protection and enhancement of the natural environment as a key element for the University Reserve’s fire management plan (Sandy Bay campus). The plan includes suppression of weeds and encouraging endemic flora and fauna communities
- Significant multi-year efforts delivering protection and improvement of Newnham Creek (Newnham campus)
- Feral animal and weed control, as well as protection of penguin nesting habitat, at West Park campus.
- Installation of the largest green roof in Tasmania on the new building at West Park campus, using plants with local provenance (that is seed collected and grown out locally before planting on the roof)
- Conducting Bioblitzes on our campuses (that is an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time or a biological census)
- Inclusion of natural areas into the campus sustainability trails, with explanatory signage for local threatened species found in the area.
- Establishment of the Tasmanian University and Community Landcare society
- Inclusion of natural environment-focused projects in the International Green Gown Award-winning Sustainability Integration Program for Students (SIPS).
These actions are tracked through our participation in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating Systems (STARS), which includes specific credits for biodiversity and landscape management.
“Using this as a guide, we seek to ensure our grounds are managed using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) or organic approaches (which is reflected in the points achieved for each category),” said the University’s Chief Sustainability Officer Corey Peterson.
“We are currently developing our new Natural Environment Action Plan that will include more specific targets in line with our Nature Positive University pledge.”