Regreening university grounds

Wood bank in Utrecht Science Park

Utrecht University manages an area of 350 hectares. A big part of this area involves Utrecht Science Park. This has an essential role as a connecting element between the surrounding nature areas. The university has set the goal to green up its own area in order to locally restore biodiversity, strengthening it and use it sustainably.

Method

Green, self-contained landscape elements are connected to each other as much as possible. Think along the lines of wooded banks, hedges, verges, lanes, rows of trees and scrubland that meet each other in the landscape. This creates walk and flight paths for all kinds of animal species (think of roe deer, badgers, little owls, etc.), and habitats for plants and animals are connected to the surrounding nature areas and estates.

Biodiversity in Utrecht Science Park

Together with research bureau Dactylis, the university has worked on a management plan for the restoration of biodiversity in Utrecht Science Park. Below is an impression of the Utrecht Science Park. In this area, the university is taking various measures to strengthen biodiversity from now until 2035. View the interactive roadmap to learn more about what these different measures entail.

Icon species

Besides that, the university actively protects the habitats of plant and animal species that are characteristic to this area. These icon species are animal and plant species whose presence says something about how well an ecosystem is functioning. An example of this is that the presence of a European badger shows that the area has afforestation with sufficient hiding places and variation in food, including other animal and plant species.

In order to ensure that these animals and plants feel at home in Utrecht Science Park, the university will make the habitats more accessible. Such as by building nature-friendly banks for amphibians and realising hotbeds for reptiles.
 

The university has appointed twenty icon species. These animal and plant species are monitored, and habitats are improved where possible. Are you curious which species these are, and what they contribute to the area? View the icon species in the gallery.

Ecologically managed verges

In Utrecht Science Park, there are very many green fragments and verges. Together, these make up about 80,000 m2. These are now ecologically managed, which means that the Green Management skips parts while mowing to protect the habitats of various animal and plant species. The photo featured below shows the experiment that led in part to the change in management.

Wooded banks

One effective way to increase the habitats and walk and flight paths for animal and plant species is to construct wooded banks. A wooded bank is a land boundary with an ecological function that consists of a series of trees and bushes planted close together. In 2021, construction of a wooded bank that currently has a total of 6,000 (!) trees started.

Biodiversity hubs

In 2021, the university organised a biodiversity contest. The winner's design would be realised in Utrecht Science Park. Rémy Visscher, the winner, came up with biodiversity hubs. This is a landscape design that functions as a small biotope and benefits the local biodiversity. Since then, the university has made a biodiversity hub. This consists of a wadi, native vegetation, an elevation and tree trunks.