Grounds Environmental Policy
The University of Sussex is located in the Sussex Downs National Park. The University main campus comprises 116.5 hectares of chalk downland, including areas of woodland and meadows, and 9.5 hectares of sports fields. Sir Basil Spence, the architect who designed the University, placed great emphasis on the trees, so much so that the buildings were designed around the existing trees. Today, the trees on campus provide tremendous appeal, amongst which are some of the last remaining English elms in the country. The campus provides opportunities for a range of recreational pursuits including walking, birdwatching, cycling, horse-riding and sports.
The University recognises the importance of managing the land in a sensitive and appropriate manner. In spite of the differing ecologies found within the University's estate, in managing them all, the University will adhere to the following principles during all development and maintenance work on the grounds and external sports facilities:
- organic methods of horticulture management will be used wherever possible
- a presumption against the use of all chemical pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilisers
- woodlands, wildlife and natural habitats will be managed to maximise their conservation, education and research value
- tree planting in woodland areas will be restricted to native species
- all topsoil removed during building works will be kept by the University for re-use
- all trees lost through disease, weather conditions or vandalism should be replaced;
- no peat will be used, except for specialist seed propogation
- all horticultural organic waste will be composted
This policy and procedures have been written after consultation with the grounds staff, ecologists and other appropriate members of the University. The policy and procedures will be reviewed and updated through consultation on an annual basis.
Procedures & Objectives
The specific management techniques used by the University are detailed below, together with objectives for improvement.
Landscaping and Conservation
Efforts to increase the wildlife value of the campus will be taken wherever possible through the provision of bird and bat boxes, hedge laying programmes, meadow creation, tree planting and woodland glades as detailed below. The University is a member of the Dutch Elm Disease Working Group which acts locally to control the spread of the disease.
Tree/Shrub Planting and Maintenance
The selection of trees/shrubs for planting will be carefully considered. Indigenous species will be selected for woodland areas; those in keeping with the local environment will be selected for the central areas of campus.
Trees will only be felled for reasons of safety; pruning to enhance the shape of the tree will be carried out within the amenity areas. Trees which are felled in the woodland areas will normally be left to provide a micro environment for plants and animals. Small material from felling/pruning will be chipped, shredded or composted. Burning of material from felling/pruning will be kept to an absolute minimum, except in the case of diseased wood.
Organic fertiliser will be mixed with composted material and placed around newly planted trees and shrubs. This process will be repeated on an annual basis during the first few years of growth, after which time all fertiliser use will cease.
- Produce a catalogue recording all the tree locations and type on campus.
- Maximise transplanting of saplings within campus.
- Keep an annual record of trees planted.
- Maintain and enhance, where possible, the established arboretum, in particular the English Elms.
- Use wood chipping to construct woodland paths.
- Mulch small trees to reduce water usage and incidence of strimmer damage.
- Actively discourage the attachment of notices to trees.
Grass cutting in the central areas of campus and on the sports fields will be maintained on a regular basis. This enhances the appearance of the campus, allowing the grass to be used for sports and recreational purposes. The grass clippings will be left on the grass to replace the nutrients to the soil, thereby avoiding the need for fertilisers. The only exception will be the cricket wickets where the grass will be removed and composted.
The University has areas of wildlife meadow where the grass will be carefully managed to encourage the proliferation of flora and fauna. The grass will normally only be mowed once a year. The ecology of the meadows will be monitored on an annual basis.
will be used to prevent the erosion of grassland from cars, walkers and increasingly horses and mountain bikes. In addition, temporary fencing will be erected around building works for reasons of safety. Standardised fencing will be used wherever possible. Reused telegraph poles will be erected to prevent cars from parking along road verges and wooden "diamond rail" fencing will be used to try and discourage the use of 'desire paths' across lawns. Chestnut and metal fencing will be avoided wherever possible, except in cases where it is required under Health & Safety legislation.
Hedge laying and planting will be undertaken in appropriate circumstances.
Footpaths will be created to encourage greater exploration of the countryside. The use of the grassed areas as footpaths will be discouraged with the use of fencing as appropriate. The paving of 'desire paths' will only be undertaken where it is felt alternative path provision is inadequate and the aesthetics of the campus will not be destroyed, recognising that in some cases the presence of unpaved 'desire paths' is more destructive to the campus than paved paths.
- Create a nature trail with an interpretation leaflet.
- Examine opportunities and trial new approaches to try and discourage the use of grassed areas as footpaths.
Inevitably, pollution to the air, soil and water is produced during the maintenance of the grounds. The University will endeavour to minimise pollution at all times.
Air Pollution: Vehicles and Machinery
All newly purchased vehicles and machinery will run on diesel or unleaded fuel.
Soil & Ground Water Pollution: Weedkilling
The use of all pesticides and herbicides will be kept to a minimum. The use of all chemicals will be monitored closely and regular reviews will be made in the search for alternatives which are less polluting. The University's Pesticide Policy and Code of Practice will be complied with at all times.
Efforts will continue to be made to reduce the disturbance caused by noisy machinery particularly during machine upgrades and when planning the schedules of work. No noisy activities will be carried out in the vicinity of buildings during the course of examinations.
The University accepts that water and energy are required to fulfil many of the functions within the management of the Grounds. Nevertheless, it will make constant efforts to reduce the amount of water and energy used through conservation measures.
Newly planted trees and shrubs will only be watered during long dry spells over the summer. No grass irrigation will take place, except during returfing and on fine turfed sports areas, including the cricket wickets, in exceptionally dry weather conditions. To maintain the efficiency of the soakaways, which enable the return of rainwater direct to the water table, a continual maintenance programme will be operated.
Road/Path Clearance and Maintenance
For reasons of safety and visual appearance, the University will endeavour to keep all paths and roads tidy and well maintained.
Snow & Ice Clearance
Salt will be applied to remove snow and ice, as defined in a written programme. Excessive use of salt kills the grass, therefore a careful balance needs to be maintained to apply sufficient but not excessive quantities.
To enhance the visual appearance of the campus, litter and leaves will be removed from roads, paths and grassed areas to reduce the risk of accident and to prevent drain blockages. All leaves collected on the campus will be composted and used as leaf mulch.
All broken paving slabs which constitute a health and safety hazard will be replaced with materials in keeping with the surroundings. In addition, broken paving slabs which do not constitute a hazard will be replaced on a rolling programme within financial constraints. Every opportunity to reuse old slabs will be undertaken; broken slabs will only be skipped where reuse is not possible.
Vandalised signs will be replaced to enhance the visual appearance of the University.
Drains will be cleared as part of a continual maintenance programme.
Composting, Peat and Fertiliser Use
All leaves and grass clippings collected from the campus will be composted for use on the campus on a rotating basis. Wood chippings will be composted separately into a mulch for use on the shrub beds. No peat will be used on campus for any maintenance work. Organic fertiliser will be mixed with composted material and used on an annual basis on newly planted trees and shrubs during their first years of growth. Artificial fertilisers will normally only be used on a regular basis on the sports fields to ensure that a suitable sward is established as a playing surface.
Communication and Education
Respect and understanding for the campus environment by members of the University will be greatly assisted by effective communication and education. Better use of existing communication channels will be made e.g. The Bulletin, and new opportunities will also be sought, both internally and externally.
- Establish a regular slot in The Bulletin.
- Establish close liaison with the Student Union to identify opportunities to communicate more effectively with the students.
- Establish a network within the University to share and exchange information to enhance the Grounds Environmental Policy.