SDG15: Life on Land

The University of Northampton understands that biodiversity is the foundation of a healthy planet and our commitment to biodiversity extends far beyond the walls of our campus. We believe that promoting sustainable land management practices and ensuring our environment is ecologically rich, is not only our responsibility but also a vital part of our educational mission.

The ecological needs of our site are at the forefront of all our land management practices, our sustainable methods of management aim to increase and sustain biodiversity and create suitable habitats for an array of flora, fauna and wildlife.

The UON have also joined a global alliance of universities, making the protection and enhancement of the natural world a priority by pledging to be a ‘Nature Positive University’. More information on this and biodiversity across our estate can be found on the Environment and Sustainability Ecology webpage.

Sustainable Development Goals 15 - Life on land

Education, Outreach and Events

We are committed to providing our students and local community with the opportunity to learn about our ecosystems on campus by providing practical experience for our academic courses and outreach activities to support social impact.

Events and Outreach

Recent events have included Willow Weaving Workshops and Community Litter Picking Activities. Our Willow Weaving Workshops enable our students to learn the practicalities of coppicing the 8 types of willow tree we have on campus and how they can be identified by the colour of their stem. Once coppiced, the willow stems are used in a free workshop to teach staff and students how to weave and create a variety of decorations waste free.

In 2019 many staff, students and members of the local community volunteered to take part in a Community Litter Pick across the areas surrounding our campus. The aim of the activity was to benefit our local community by keeping the area tidy, creating social interaction to support wellbeing, and to promote the importance of correct waste disposal when ensuring sustainable use of land.

Throughout the year UON hold many events and awareness campaigns, with the aim to encourage and support positive behaviour change, for happy communities and a happy planet. These events and activities take place in conjunction with Sustainability Champion projects and our Halls H.E.R.O.E.S campaign, where our pursuits cover many ecological topics from bird spotting, butterfly surveys, flower bomb making and teachings on sustainable land management practices.

More information on events led and supported by the Environment and Sustainability team can be found on the Sustainability Team webpages under the ‘Current and previous Sustainable Development events’ tab.


We believe that learning about biodiversity is essential, which is why we incorporate biodiversity studies into our curriculum. Our students have the opportunity to conduct research and engage in hands-on learning experiences.

Listed below are the courses we deliver covering ecology and biodiversity within modules that encompass sustainable land management for eco systems including Flora and Fauna.

You can follow our environmental science students on twitter @EnvSciUON which offers an insight into the programmes currently and previously being facilitated by their team to raise aware of environmental change and promote sustainability.

Visitors to Northampton can follow the Northampton Town Centre Walking Tour this is a tourist trail available for visitors to Northampton to familiarise themselves with the campus and town centre locations.

Sustainable tourism is a topic covered in the academic courses we deliver listed below:

Please check out our latest research for SDG15: Life on Land

  • We actively encourage the sustainable use of our land and shared spaces with our local community through various outreach projects. The campus has a few spaces in which land is shared with the local community, these include Beckets Park, the restored access to Delapre Abbey and New South Bridge Road.

    The Memorial Garden at Waterside Campus is a community space and provides a tranquil reflective space for all to use. Any maintenance in this area is completed sympathetically to continue to encourage the natural biodiversity of the space, specifically along the riverbank.

    The university works closely with the Environment Agency to manage the habitat of the river and monitor the levels of water to enable both parties to act in the event of a potential flood. The focus of the university working closely with the Environment Agency is to ensure university activity supports The Water Framework Directive (WFD) enabling a collaborative approach to the protection of the water environment and to continue to protect the natural ecosystems and encourage the natural biodiversity of the land along the river to flourish.

    The Management Plan for Biodiversity was created prior to the build of Waterside Campus and sets out a plan for the protection of the ecology and biodiversity of the site both during and post the build phases. It refers to the appropriate wetland management protocols of attenuation areas to support the management of alien species and the control of excessive vegetation, siltation and growth which could potentially cause the areas to be uninhabitable for wildlife. The Ecology Policy includes the management practices for both alien plant species and the red list of threatened species.

    Arboriculture is an important part of the sustainable management of university land, we have over 1000 trees on Waterside Campus, each is referenced and tree survey covering the species, size, age, vigour and condition of the tree is carried out on a regular basis by an external company. Recommendations are provided within the Tree Survey and are carried out by our external services team or specialist contractors where necessary.

    Due to the urban nature of our campus, there are no areas of the campus where our land is used for agricultural purposes. However, where possible we strive to engage students and staff to “grow your own” and to make use of the large edible planters situated by the Engine Shed, our SU building. Students, staff and our local community are welcome to try and use the herbs in their cooking.

  • Responsible waste disposal is a priority at the university, ensuring that we protect not only our land by ensuring we have the sufficient external bins in the right places for food, mixed recycling, general waste, dog waste and coffee cups but also by diverting 100% of our waste away from landfill. Our Waste Policy and Single Use Plastic and Disposable Items Policy are central to demonstrating the way in which we manage all types of waste produced by the university directly or indirectly. This includes the disposal of Hazardous and Offensive materials as well as how we discourage the use of disposable items on site.

    The University produced 605 tonnes of waste in 2019/20, 71% of this was recycled and the remaining 29% was processed to produce energy.

    Our goal is to increase our recycling rates to 80% in 2020/21.  Various initiatives take place across the University to promote recycling and increase our recycling rates, these include Coffee Cup Recycling and the use of a Student Environmental Scorecard for students residing in halls to monitor and encourage student engagement with recycling.

    Our commitment to land sensitive waste disposal extends further than our daily operations and is evident across our estate projects, notably the campus relocation from the original site in Kingsthorpe to our new Waterside Campus in 2018 when 800 tonnes of waste material was diverted from landfill and donated, reused or recycled.

    All wastewater is discharged into the public sewer system and therefore we have no need to discharge water anywhere else on our land upholding local water quality to protect ecosystems and wildlife.

    Follow our Sustainability team’s Instagram page @uon_sustainable for further information

Our Campus