Further and Higher Education

"FHE can contribute to the public understanding of biodiversity"

‘Biodiversity – the UK Action Plan (1994)’

PLANT SPECIES RECORDING
Students recording the number of plant species in a one metre square as part of a field-based study.

Copyright: The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside

Target Group

The target audience is the staff and students of Higher and Further Education institutions that serve the former county of Lancashire.

Facts and Figures

  • HE and FE Institutions based in or strongly associated with Lancashire include: Blackpool and Fylde College, Bolton Institute; Edge Hill College, Myerscough College, Lancaster University, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool University, Manchester University, Salford University, University of Central Lancashire.

 

Links with Species and Habitat Action Plans

Ecological research relevant to the BAP is carried out in many of the institutions. There are other disciplines (e.g. agriculture, economics) that are studied within Colleges and Universities that have an important bearing on the survival prospects of key elements of the county’s biodiversity. The HE/FE sector has substantial landholdings.

Current Initiatives in Lancashire

  • English Nature’s College-EN Links (CEL) Scheme: A national scheme that provides small grants to encourage students to conduct research into aspects of nature conservation. Project themes are set at local level by the relevant English Nature office (in this case North West Team).

  • Courses with biodiversity modules: Ecology degree at Lancaster University; Environmental Management BSc at Liverpool John Moores University, Edge Hill College,etc.

  • Other sources of expertise: Blackpool & Fylde College’s natural history illustration/photography courses; Social sciences departments with potential to conduct research into social/economic benefits of biodiversity (of the sort being done by RSPB in relation to Leighton Moss); Rural Business Management courses at Myerscough College.
  • Student Societies: There is an active practical conservation group at Lancaster University and at some other institutions
  • Grounds maintenance: Lancaster University has a Landscape Working Group with a remit to develop staff/student awareness of campus biodiversity.

 

Possible Methods of Communication with Target Group

  • E-mail, electronic bulletin boards and the internet - It is anticipated that electronic means will be the most effective way to maintain links and flow of information to lecturers and students.
  • Input into relevant courses – The use of Lancashire BAP as a case study in modules would entail work with lecturers to develop relevant lecture plans/materials
  • Contact with student societies – Practical participation could be encouraged through student conservation and other societies.
  • Sixth Form Conferences - Conferences such as those run by University of Central Lancashire would be ideal places to meet future students and get general messages across about biodiversity.

 

Issues

HE/FE representatives have expressed the opinion that there is a lack of readily accessible information about what is happening with regard to biodiversity in the other colleges and/or universities in the region and further afield. The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) is addressing this issue but it may be that it is not fully resolved by them for several years.

As research needs come to be identified from the BAP, institutions should be provided with lists of possible projects that they could suggest to dissertation/PhD students. As well as providing BAP practitioners with a route through which certain objectives can be achieved this would provide meaningful projects for students. Assistance with the BAP need not be restricted to ecological research.

It is anticipated that funding for ecological research in the UK will become more targeted towards national BAP priorities. This raises the issue of how research into local BAP priorities will be funded (where these are not also national BAP targets). Joint approaches to regional bodies (e.g. the Regional Development Agency or Government Office North West) might be a way forward. Support for funding applications by the BAP partnership might add weight to bids from whatever source.

It is recognised that Colleges and Universities outside the current administrative boundaries of Lancashire (Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Yorkshire) also deal with Lancashire issues and need to be involved in the BAP process.

Examples of best practice in grounds maintenance should be disseminated. An Audit of Campus/Landholding’s biodiversity could be a good starting point. ‘Eco-Centre Audits’ (as developed by Tidy Britain Group for use in schools) could be adapted for the purpose.

 

Actions Proposed

Broad Objective:

A. Improve Co-ordination between HE and FE institutions and other BAP partners on biodiversity initiatives within Lancashire

Operational Objective

Action Required (Priority)

Partners

Time-scale

Type

1. To establish and maintain an electronic system for exchange of information on biodiversity initiatives involving HE/FE institutions.

1. Set up an electronic bulletin board by mid-2001 to include details of research suggestions arising from the BAP. (High)

HE / FE serving Lancs

S

PR

 

Broad Objective:

B. Facilitate the greater use of Lancashire-based examples in modules that address biodiversity and BAPs

Operational Objective

Action Required (Priority)

Partners

Time-scale

Type

1. Work with relevant HE/FE departments to develop materials relating to the Lancashire BAP.

1. Produce and circulate lecturers notes on the BAP in 2001. (Medium)

HE / FE serving Lancs

M

PR

 

 

Broad Objective:

C. Establish mechanisms to improve management of campus landholdings for biodiversity

Operational Objective

Action Required (Priority)

Partners

Time-scale

Type

1. Carry out eco-audits of HE/FE landholdings

1. Survey HE/FE landholdings and formulate management proposals. (At least two HE/FE surveys to be completed by the middle of 2002). (Medium)

Students

M

RM

2. Initiate appropriate changes to campus land management and monitor.

1. Alter management proscriptions, maintenance regimes to take account of survey findings (at least two institutions by end of 2003). (Medium)

HE / FE serving Lancs

 

M

 

 

LM

 

 

2. Monitor affect of changes on biodiversity. (High)

Students

O

RM

Date: April 2001.

 

 

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