No matter the extent to which we are able to reduce our emissions, we will still release some in the running of our facilities and research. To become net-zero, we must offset these emissions.
The thirteenth and fifteenth Sustainable Development Goals include using biodiversity, such as carbon sequestration, to aid climate change planning and management.
The University has excellent biodiversity policies, an action plan and a design guide that draws upon research from our own students to improve our biodiversity practices. As part of our Plant and Pollinator Policy, we aim to make 50% of our lawns mixed species ‘tapestry lawns’ by 2022 to attract more pollinators. Two tapestry lawns have already been planted on main campus. Carried out by our Gardens and Grounds Team, and including local schools and our own students, tree planting is a continuous activity at the University.
Our academics in the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research are working on land cover and land use change by mapping deforestation and forest degradation, estimating carbon stocks and looking at greenhouse gas emissions from forest fires. Professor Sue Page, in the School of Geography, Geology and the Environment, explores the impact of land-use change and fire on the carbon cycle of tropical peatlands and her expertise has been crucial to science-based approaches to peatland management that, when implemented, support the mitigation and management of peat carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.
A final year mathematics student developed a calculator that enables us to calculate the exact carbon absorption of each tree that the University owns. Using the tool, we found that our trees offset around 6% of the University’s current carbon footprint. The calculator can also be used in development works to provide recommendations on cutting down trees or offsetting. This project won a national award for ‘Research with Impact: Student’ in the Green Gown Awards 2019.