A biodiversity plan or strategy should formally set out how your institution will maintain and improve biodiversity on campus. It is essential if you are serious about taking action. A formal plan helps ensure that:
Consult local and national resources and groups to determine the habitats and species that are of particular importance in your area and to link with existing plans and priorities.
The statutory list of priority habitats and species in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should be the starting point. These have been developed from the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, which was succeeded by the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework in 2012. Local Biodiversity Action Plans are still in place on a regional level and provide a valuable reference source. Also make contact with your local Wildlife Trust and any other local conservation and ecology groups. If possible, spend some time visiting local wildlife sites to learn about their approach and priorities.
Survey the biodiversity on your site. Describe the positive and negative factors that are affecting it now and that may affect it in the future.
Assess the significance of the features found and the threats and opportunities to them, prioritising themes, species and areas for action. Use the survey and the information you have gathered to identify:
Set clear, measurable targets that specifically describe what you want to achieve and when e.g. 30% of the present short turf to be managed as a wildflower meadow by 2017.
Ensure that your targets take into account:
Specify the actions needed to achieve the targets. For example agreeing changes to management practices such as grass cutting, hedge trimming and the species that are selected for planting and introducing projects and work programmes that benefit biodiversity.
Agree new responsibilities for staff. For example, staff working in landscaping may, with the necessary consultation, have biodiversity related objectives written into their job descriptions.
Obtain the financial resources to ensure that the plan is funded adequately. Costs will include the capital and material costs of projects and the funding for awareness raising and training for staff.
Develop indicators and monitor action. Indicators should be easy to record and effective. You may want to include two types of indicators.
Specify action to be taken in emergencies/non-compliance. Procedures for dealing with any failures, non-compliance, accidents and emergency situations should be stated.
Get institutional commitment to the plan. For your plan to be effective make sure that:
Implement the plan. Assemble the resources needed and begin to put the plan into operation.
Review the plan regularly.
Adopt standards for continuous improvement. Including biodiversity objectives, targets and strategies within management systems that you operate is fundamental for continuous improvement. You could consider adopting the Biodiversity Benchmark. This provides independent verification in the planning and implementation of land management practices and a range of benefits including recognition and reputation.