Two Durham University projects, Greenspace and the Biodiversity Strategy, have been shortlisted for awards at the 2034 Green Gown UK and Ireland awards. Greenspace has been nominated in the Student Engagement category and Biodiversity Strategy in the Nature Positive Category.
The Green Gown Awards are awarded annually to higher and further education institutions that show a dedication to sustainability. In response to the shortlisting, Karen O’Brien, Vice-Chancellor and Warden, commented that: “Environmental sustainability is integral to our University, its strategy and delivery. It is a vital and growing part of our teaching and learning, our wider student experience and our research agenda.
“A Green Gown award would recognise inspiring and dedicated work by staff, students and our wider community across our sustainability agenda over a long time. It would be a strong mark of our commitment to preserving our environment for years to come.”
On the specific categories and projects she said that: “Our student body have embraced opportunities to create and sustain a high-quality environment for us all to live, work and study. Our new campus biodiversity strategy reflects just how enthusiastically and effectively staff and students have worked together to have greater impact and influence.”
The first project shortlisted is ‘The Greenspace Movement’ in the Student Engagement category. The movement brings together students, staff and outside partners with the aim of taking small actions that build to big differences. Through the Greenspace Movement, they have the developed the student-led ‘Durham Climate Society.’ The society has seen over 500 people join so far and has hosted many successful events including talks by the Head of Climate at NatWest.
Additional accomplishments are the annual Greenspace Festival, hosted this year at Grey College, which boasted many career opportunities in addition to key speakers such as the Chair of the UK Carbon Coalition, and the My Greenspace App, which has over 1200 active members and 500 activities recorded each week, so far avoiding 58 tonnes of CO2.
The second project shortlisted is for Enhancing Biodiversity in the Nature Positive category. The University has developed an ambitious biodiversity strategy that aims to achieve Biodiversity Net Gain by 2032. The strategy has already shown impressive results, from working to re-introduce the rarest tree in the UK to identifying seven species of rare moths to gaining ‘Gold’ accreditation from Hedgehog Friendly Campus.
The development of the strategy has seen a partnership between the Estates & Facilities Directorate the Department of Biosciences, resulting the in the creation of three summer internships to develop our baseline and action plan. The strategy has highlighted the species richness of our estate with 983 different species of fauna and flora identified.
The announcement of winners will take place on 30th November 2023.
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