Landscape and Biodiversity
The University of New England landscape is a diverse mixture of natural bushland, teaching and research facilities, heritage listed buildings, expansive sporting grounds and a large residential network consisting of six colleges and a residential village. The core and the nerve centre of the Armidale Campus of the university is the late 19th Century mansion, ‘Booloominbah’ and its surrounding formal gardens.
UNE is committed to maintaining a living campus based on the principles and practices of biodiversity conservation, education, learning, knowledge, aesthetics and sustainability. Because plants and their management are the key to any successful landscape management, the campus management is divided into a number of botanical precincts ranging from the manicured lawns to the south of Booloominbah to the remnant, high value woodland Conservation Zones. The university aims at best practice and continual improvement in teaching, research and outreach, and this is reflected in and through our living laboratory.
Landscape Advisory Committee
In 2018 UNE established a Landscape Advisory Committee inclusive of staff, students and external representatives to set the strategic direction for the landscape management. The Facilities Management Services team work closely with the advisory group to manage day to day maintenance of the grounds, seek advice on best practice management processes and plan future planting, landscaping and maintenance programs.
Landscape Management Plan
A new Landscape Management Plan (LMP) is currently in the process of being developed by a team of UNE experts led by Professor Jeremy Bruhl, Director of the NCW Beadle Herbarium and Convenor of Botany in the School of Environmental and Rural Sciences. The team also includes specialists in areas including Aboriginal culture, ecology, heritage, geography and urban planning, The core purposes and functions of the LMP aim to:
- Protect Indigenous flora, fauna and archaeological history;
- Preserve Aboriginal cultural artefacts and areas of significance;
- Protect heritage plantings of trees and shrubs;
- Establish a campus-wide botanical gardens that integrates with teaching and research;
- Provide students and staff pleasure, protection, and facilitate learning and research;
- Communicate widely (including students and staff) regarding information on the best-practice management of remnant woodlands at UNE; and
- Provide visitors and collaborators welcome, enjoyment and enrichment.
In 2019 UNE established two conservation zones on the campus to protect Endangered Ecological Communities and areas of Aboriginal significance. Ground keeping and site maintenance was revised to reduce the areas where mowing takes place to allow for natural regeneration and improvement of habitat for native species including Koalas, Echidnas, Kangaroos and birdlife.
Signage has been installed to indicate where these zones are located so that people can be mindful when in the vicinity of these areas which are located north of the Ring Rd and east of Sports Union Rd. Species or ecological communities are listed as endangered if the face a very high risk of extinction in Australia in the near future, as determined by the criteria prescribed in the under the Biodiversity Conservation Act. The communities located on our campus are known as the Ribbon Gum - Mountain Gum - Snow Gum Grassy Forest/Woodlands of the New England Tableland Bioregion.
The University continues to engage external stakeholders for a variety of revegetation activities associated with UNE’s Landscape Management requirements. These groups include:
- Armidale Tree Group (ATG, a native plant nursery) for appropriate species selection;
- Armidale Urban Rivercare Group (AURG) for the coordination of planting activities.
These groups are not-for-profit organisations coordinated by the Southern New England Landcare Coordinating Committee (SNELCC) which is the not-for-profit organisation responsible for the administration and public liability of ATG and AURG. SNELCC has the capability to access a range of information relating to effective planting methods including planning, ground and site preparation, planting and ongoing maintenance work plans. The University may rely on these groups for the advice, coordination and successful completion of landscape management projects.
The University continues to allow existing opportunities for community involvement in landscape management within the campus. This would entail around research programs by staff and student large volunteer workforce comprising local community members and the University students.
Koala Management Plan
It is common to see koalas at UNE, whether they are resting in the trees or moving about the campus, filled with Eucalypts and other native flora. The University has developed Koala Management Plan with the purpose of protecting Koala populations across their current range.