Tag Archives: Sustainable campus

UC students discover native birds thriving on Ilam campus

Bellbird and chicks. Photo credit Jim Briskie
Bellbird and chicks. Photo credit Jim Briskie

A recent survey of the UC campus shows that in the last 26 years both the range and abundance of all native bird species have increased!

Last year, as part of a lab exercise for Biology 273 (New Zealand Biodiversity and Biosecurity), a group of UC students created a bird atlas of the UC campus and compared it to a similar atlas from 1990 (by Krystyna Dodunski, a former Zoology student).

The results of the survey indicate that in the 26 years that have passed all native species increased in range and abundance, with an increase of almost 500% in the total number of native birds observed. One species, the bellbird, is now in the early stages of colonising campus. And fantails, grey warblers and silvereyes have all become significantly more abundant on campus.

The greatest diversity of native birds occurred along the campus waterways. Professor Jim Briskie (School of Biological Sciences) says it is likely that the changes are a product of increased plantings of native trees (favoured by native birds) and decreased open space (habitat favoured by many introduced species). Maintaining and expanding native plantings at UC could also help to further increase the range of native birds, like the native pigeon or kererū.

Song thrush. Photo credit Jim Briskie
Song thrush. Photo credit Jim Briskie

Given the dependence of bellbirds on flowering and fruiting trees, Professor Briskie suggests it is worth considering plantings that provide this resource, and to ensure that the current small population of bellbirds does not disappear. Restoring species that formerly occurred in the Christchurch area but are now locally extinct could be a long-term goal for the management of the campus green spaces.

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Fairtrade taking flight at UC

By UC student Sarah Templeton.

Supply of fairtrade products is only just catching up with demand at the University of Canterbury.  Events such as the Fairtrade Market during the country’s ‘Fairtrade Fortnight’ highlighted just how popular ‘buying ethical’ was becoming around UC.

Puck Algera, UC Sustainability Office Projects Coordinator, said the popularity of buying fairtrade reflected growing demand around the wider population. “We’re finding that more and more students actually want to know where their stuff comes from, which is really exciting.”

The biggest impact of fairtrade supply on campus is that all important driving factor of every student: coffee. Christchurch company Jailbreaker Roastery, a branch of the Addington Coffee Co-Op, are supplying six of the major campus cafes; 1894, The Shilling Club, Chilton’s, The Shed, The Collective and Hardhat. They supply organic, fairtrade coffee.

20150715_201John Robertson, one of the key figures behind the roastery, said that fairtrade coffee is becoming increasingly market driven at “a grassroots level”, as drinkers begin to think more about the origins of their latte. “There’s a growing demand for knowing where products come from … with more documentaries, TV shows; there’s stuff that’s making us more aware of these issues.”

Robertson pointed out the impact of buying fairtrade coffee reached far beyond students getting through an all-nighter. “Whatever we’re buying has a global impact and we need to be thinking about how are we treating these people? We need to be careful we’re not buying something that’s detrimental to their wellbeing.”

IMG_1046 vc for smThis sentiment was echoed by passionate student Elise Wilson, who was recruiting volunteers for a new ‘fairtrade student club’ at the market. She said that any extra cost students might pay for purchasing fairtrade was worth it. “It is easy to think it doesn’t affect us but everyone needs to start looking a little bit deeper about where our cheap products are coming from” Wilson said.

This attitude from students was one of the motivating forces for Jailbreaker to supply to UC. Robertson said that it was “awesome” to have the university support their ethical and sustainable business model. “To have that seated in a university; a place of free thinking and looking at different models – it’s a great place to be.”

UC Eco club network established

In late February, the UC Eco Club Network was established, bringing together various eco clubs on campus including Kakariki, DigSoc, GenZero, CUTC (tramping club), Fossil Free UC, VCUC (Veg Club), SVA, Biosoc, GEOGSOC, Engineers without Borders (EWB) and more.

The aim of the network is to improve coordination between UC’s many eco clubs and events, and ultimately increase the number of people taking part in eco activities. The network is also hoping to organise a big eco-event later on in the year – watch this space!

Want get involved? Check out the The Eco Club Network Facebook page, or get in touch by email: hello@ucecoclubs.nz.12733631_1030468210328387_3204237549022655504_n

First ECN meeting a success

The formation of the network originated  in January this year, with the idea to get more collaboration between eco clubs happening. The first ECN meeting was a success, with  close to 20 people attending and UCSA president James Addington stepping in as well. Exciting and important sustainability ideas and concerns were shared (like garden rooftops, reducing foodwaste and plastic pollution, UC building materials and Avon River conservation).

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