The Biodiversity Index, an interactive web-based tool developed by the University of Northampton, has been shortlisted for a 2014 Guardian University Award in the category of Sustainability Project. The Guardian Awards aim to showcase and celebrate the outstanding innovation, creativity and impact of UK universities across the higher education sector in delivering world-class teaching, research and engagement.
Developed in collaboration between the School of Science and Technology and the Department of Infrastructure Services, the Biodiversity Index enables people with little knowledge of ecology to undertake a rapid but scientific assessment of the level of plant diversity on any UK site.
The Index provides an organisation with the tools required to undertake a simple quantitative ground survey, to identify different habitats and the variety of plants in each habitat, and to measure the size of these areas. The Index produces a highly visual summary and report for each site, offering signposts and suggestions for enhancing biodiversity; many of which could be cost neutral or actually save money.
Professor Jeff Ollerton commented: “Being shortlisted for a Guardian University Award is great recognition for the Biodiversity Index as a project which brought together academic and estates staff into a common purpose.”
Paul R. Taylor, Sustainability Manager for the University of Northampton explained: “Sustainability is all about delivering long-term positive benefits to society, both locally and globally, whilst minimising negative impacts and the use of finite resources. In our work towards realising this, the University has designed the Biodiversity Index to help any organisation to take their first practical steps to understand biodiversity as a critical resource.”
The Biodiversity Index is an example of social innovation and collaboration between the University’s academic and professional services staff. The Index demonstrates the varied and practical side of the University’s academic research into the conservation of biodiversity, including important species such as birds and pollinating insects.
Winners of the 2014 Guardian University Awards will be announced at a ceremony on Wednesday 26 February, at 8 Northumberland Avenue in London.
For more information, visit: www.biodiversityindex.org