Cranfield University wins wildlife award in new biodiversity initiative

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Cranfield University has won the Best Newcomer Wildlife Garden award for its various plants and flowers and biodiversity across the campus.

Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire’s (BCN) Wildlife Trust were impressed by Cranfield’s wildflower plots and the increasing number of protected areas where bee orchids can grow.

Being the county flower of Bedfordshire, the bee orchid takes its name from its main pollinator - the bee - and is recognisable by its similar appearance to bees.

Cranfield’s bee orchids, which tend to flower around May and June, are scattered across the campus.

Gareth Ellis, energy and environment manager at Cranfield University, said: “We’re delighted to have received the Best Newcomer Wildlife Garden award. The company that helps us manage and maintain our grounds, Nurture, has been great with providing guidance and advice throughout the process and have recently established bee hives on site.

“The award serves to reinforce the university’s commitment to transforming the campus into a natural and pleasant area for staff and students, we also look forward to making it more of a teaching and research resource with the establishment of a living lab.”

Cranfield’s six-year Urban Biodiversity Project, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, investigates what role biodiversity and ecosystems will play in cities as the global population continues to grow.

As part of the project, small plots of wildflowers were planted on campus, which helped to improve biodiversity.

The university has installed nest boxes, which attract birds and more recently, two bird feeders have been put on campus as part of the university’s green fund prize which is awarded to employees who save energy at work, for example, by turning lights off at the end of the day.