With the start of the new year, two of our major building projects are in the final stages of completion.
The return of the Mechanical and the Civil and Natural Resources Engineering wings back to the University brings the Canterbury Engineering the Future project to a close, providing our engineering staff and students with some of the most modern educational facilities available.
We also see the Ernest Rutherford now certified to allow public access and in the final processes of completion. The hoardings have been removed from around the new building and we are finally being exposed to the size, scope and potential of this amazing new building. There is no doubt excitement is mounting, and we are all keen to visit and view these new spaces.
Because there is still significant work involved in converting the finished building into functional teaching spaces, unfortunately we need to restrict general access to minimise risk until this final step has been completed. There will be ample opportunity to experience these new spaces for yourselves from the week commencing 12 February when the doors will be open for general access and a formal opening for Ernest Rutherford is planned.
In the meantime, we thank you for your patience and understanding in not trying to enter or access these buildings. This will ensure the safety of all contractors, project teams and equipment, and help make the final stages that much more efficient.
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 percent 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.
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.