Promoting biodiversity

Our grounds are maintained to encourage wildlife, including pollinators and birds, to flourish. Promoting biodiversity is an integral part of our overall Estates Strategy and we understand the clear connection between the natural environment and the wellbeing of our people.  

Some of our key commitments include: 

  • Identifying opportunities to increase green, cooling and absorbent spaces in response to climate change 
  • Seeking to reduce the use of synthetic chemical herbicides on campus 
  • Increasing the quality and quantity of existing green spaces and achieving a 10% increase in urban green space by 2028 (compared to 2018 levels) 
  • Achieving zero reportable pollution incidents to air, land and water across the University estate 

Find out more about our commitment to valuing nature in Our Sustainable Future (PDF, 4.7MB) or in our Biodiversity Audit (PDF, 11.2MB). 

Autumn on campus

Autumn on campus; a captivating spectacle where nature transforms before our eyes.


Our Tree Trail  

We have developed an interactive tree trail for colleagues, students and the local community to enjoy that has a variety of trees, an abundance of wildlife and glimpses of our heritage to explore. 


Nature Positive Universities Scheme

Manchester is one of 117 universities from 44 countries to make a pledge to start a journey towards becoming nature positive. 

The Nature Positive Universities Alliance, set up by the University of Oxford and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), will help to advance efforts to halt, prevent and reverse nature loss through addressing their own individual impacts and restoring ecosystems harmed by their activities.

The pledge includes four key elements:

  • Carrying out baseline biodiversity assessments.
  • Setting specific, time limited and measureable targets for nature.
  • Taking bold action to reduce biodiversity impacts, protect and restore species and ecosystems, while influencing others to do the same.
  • Transparent annual reporting.

Read the full Nature Positive Universities Pledge (Word Doc, 831KB).

Our policies 

Invasive plant species on campus

We reduce the impact of invasive plant species on campus by following UK government guidelines. For example, on finding Japanese Knotweed, we followed the guidance to remove it from the site. We monitor our campus closely and when invasive species are discovered, we dispose of them as per the law.

The Manchester Museum also runs events for the local community to help them to identify invasive species in ponds and how best to manage this.   

Monitoring IUCN and other conservation species

We have a policy to identify, monitor and protect any IUCN Red Listed species (PDF, 4.7MB) and national conservation list species with habitats in areas affected by the operation of our University. We work to monitor and protect habitats that a wide range of birds may occupy on campus. To date we have identified four species listed as UK Biodiversity Priority Species and two as amber on the Birds of Conservation Concern list.  

Our cultural institution, Jodrell Bank, is recorded as having Great Crested Newt habitats. Mitigation of risk to these Red Listed species has been outlined in planning applications. We work with local services to relocate the newts to two new ponds in a suitable habitat. Since then, we have also put procedures in place to protect the newts during all construction projects at the site.  

Local biodiversity included in planning and development

Biodiversity is considered as part of our Environmental Sustainability Project Tracker (PDF, 21.MB) – used to ensure the principles of sustainability are embedded across new builds and major refurbishments during design and construction.  

This aims to enhance site ecology by addressing spaces, species and activities in the area, considering several topics and setting specific targets to ensure that these are embedded. It outlines the following: 

  • There should be no net loss of green infrastructure and opportunities to increase it and establish links with other areas of campus should be reviewed.  
  • Green roofs and walls should be considered to reduce surface water run-off and enhance biodiversity.
  • An ecological baseline for the site should be determined and measures implemented to achieve a net positive impact for biodiversity.  

Any proposal should also: 

  • Prioritise local species that benefit wildlife and prolong the flowering season. 
  • Support invertebrate diversity (for example bees, moths and butterflies). 
  • Help to preserve existing bird species.
  • Help to support Manchester’s bat populations.
  • Retain existing trees and where this is not possible, at least two new semi-mature trees should be planted for every one removed.  

Some examples of where we have implemented these principles include: 

  • Engineering Buildings A and B – green roof, tree planting, landscaping including species rich wildflower turf, plants for pollinators. 
  • University Green – tree planting, plants for pollinators.
  • Henry Royce Institute Landscaping – tree planting, hedgerow planting, wildflowers, plants for pollinators.
  • GEIC Pocket Park

Monitoring the health of aquatic ecosystems

Firs Environmental Research Station and Botanical Grounds Pond 

The pond, ~ 6x4m in area, ~1m deep with a marginal shelf, is ornamental in nature with flag stones around the edge. The back of the pond has various stones and marginal plants providing exit and entry for wildlife. The rockery behind also provides sites for amphibian hibernacula. 

The pond contains no fish and is maintained with promoting nature in mind, with minimal disturbance. Excessive algae and duckweed; Lemna minor is removed in summer and excess decaying plant material and leaves are removed in autumn. Planting is largely ornamental with Nymphaea water lilies and Iris. Native plant species include Bogbean; Menyanthes trifoliata, Marsh Fern; Thelypteris palustris, Lesser Bullrush; Typha angustifolia and Amphibious Bistort, Persicaria amphibia. There is a healthy population of newts, frogs, dragon and damselflies, and many other insects, crustacea and amphipods. There are also visits from Mallard ducks, grey herons and other local birdlife. 

Michael Smith Quad Pond 

A survey carried out in 2022 found that the pond in Micheal Smith Quad was in moderate condition due to it having good water quality based upon visual appearance, less than 10%  covered with duckweed or filamentous algae, an absence of fish and non-native plant species, and at least 50% of its area covered by both marginal and aquatic plants where the water is less than 3m deep. 

  • SDG 3 graphic

    Goal 3

  • SDG 15 graphic

    Goal 15