An exciting new tool to count university plants.
A web-based tool to measure plant diversity on university and college campuses has been developed by the University of Northampton with funds from HEFCE.
The Biodiversity Index is an interactive system which allows organisations with little or no knowledge of biodiversity to assess the level of plant diversity on their land quickly, simply and scientifically.
What does the Biodiversity Index do?
Biodiversity refers to the number and variety of all forms of life – living organisms, the genetic differences between them and the ecosystems in which they occur.
The index enables universities and colleges to identify their different habitats and to make a simple but scientific assessment of the plant diversity of those habitats. The website then makes calculations based on the data, and gives a biodiversity score, a summary and a printable report.
The Index offers tips on how to improve the diversity of habitats, with links to further reading and advice. Many of these suggestions are cost-neutral, and some may actually save money while improving biodiversity. Users of the Biodiversity Index can access information to help them:
- develop a Biodiversity Action Plan
- identify a range of activities to benefit biodiversity on campus
- fulfil corporate social responsibility goals
- fulfil responsibilities as a public body under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006
- raise staff engagement in biodiversity conservation.
It’s an interesting development. Will institutions take advantage of it or indeed the (paid for) consultancy on offer alongside the index? I don’t know but it does look like a potentially useful addition to universities’ wider biodiversity activities