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All human activities can potentially have an impact on the biodiversity of the local environment in which they occur. That impact can be positive or negative, depending upon how the activity is managed and how impact is mitigated. This is particularly true of large infrastructure developments such as the University of Northampton’s new 22 hectare, £350 million Waterside Campus which has been developed on a brownfield site close to the town centre. What impact will this development have on the wildlife in and around this site, which is close to internationally important sites for bird conservation?
Initial baseline surveys of the ecology of the Waterside site were done by consultants in 2012-13, prior to any building work taking place. Subsequently, annual follow-up surveys of bird diversity (three in winter and three in spring) have been carried out by staff and students in the Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology. These assessing the effects of construction activities and new habitat creation on the wildlife in and around the campus and the River Nene. The data from the first seven years of surveying show that the development initially had a negative effect on bird species richness and abundance, but that this effect has reduced over time as work nears completion (see accompanying image).
Long-term monitoring of this kind is almost never undertaken for infrastructure projects of this nature. Universities and colleges, we would argue, need to take a lead in promoting such activities and making then a common component of the planning process.
For more information see: the-impact-of-building-a-new-university-campus-on-urban-bird-diversity-and-abundance-a-seven-year-study
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