Biodiversity and Grounds

<img src="grounds.png" alt="Photo overlooking the lake at University of Essex Campus">


Biodiversity plays an important role at the University. Our Colchester Campus is set in a former deer park on the banks of the Colne River. The grounds of the campus retain relict acidic grassland, a scarce habitat type. Together with taller grassland, scrub and lakes, these form a complex mosaic of habitats with an extremely rich invertebrate fauna.

The campus also contains rare coastal grazing marsh and many notable specimen trees, including oaks, redwoods and black poplars. There are 18 major habitats on the Colchester Campus.

Colchester Campus habitats and biodiversity survey and plan map (.gif)


Hedgehog Friendly Campus

Hedgehog numbers in the UK have declined by up to half since the year 2000. It is now estimated that there are fewer than 1 million left. We are working alongside the British Hedgehog Preservation society to gain Hedgehog friendly campus accreditation. This means that the University of Essex will become a safe space for hedgehogs to thrive.

We will be completing a set of actions to make our Colchester campus a safe space. This includes:

  • Making sure our campus is litter free. We currently employ two full-time litter pickers that keep our campus looking beautiful.
  • We have a set of hedgehog boxes around our campus that can keep the hedgehogs safe and dry.
  • Creating a campaign that highlights hedgehog welfare and a range of issues that can be combated.
  • The Grounds Team have left natural log piles on our campus. Log piles provide a source of food for hedgehogs and a shelter for them to sleep in.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal mammals and, if seen out during daylight hours, may be in trouble. If you see a hedgehog out during the day, contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on
01584 890801 for advice and (if required) details of your nearest hedgehog rescue.

Colchester Campus habitats and biodiversity survey

1. Poplars Row

Location: Along Boundary Road

Description: Row of poplars along road banks of grassland up to west facing buildings

Key plants and insects: Black poplars and Carolina poplars

2. Nightingale Wood

Location: SW corner of campus

Description: Mixed woodland

Key plants and insects: Oaks, nightingales in spring

3. Skipper's Meadow

Location: SW corner of campus

Description: Open grassland next to Nightingale Wood

Key plants and insects: Acid grassland species

4. Grazing Marsh

Location: Between railway line and Boundary Road

Description: High quality freshwater grazing marsh (designated habitat)

Key plants and insects: Relict grazing-marsh retaining many typical spp, eg Grass Vetchling, Dittander, Hairy Buttercup and Divided Sedge; larger drains support Common Reed

5. Green Lane

Location: Lane by side of campus to railway line

Description: Sunken lane

Key plants and insects: Mix of woodland species

6. South Courts Grassland

Location: Inside Boundary Road bend

Description: Lawns, grassland, scrub and mature trees

Key plants and insects: Subterranean clover, rare black poplar trees

7. Cherry Row

Location: Inside Boundary Road to bus stop

Description: Row of trees and rough grassland

Key plants and insects: Cherry trees and elms

8. Kidney Wood

Location: West of sports centre towards towers

Description: Mature woodland trees

Key plants and insects: Oaks and sweet chestnuts; three pencil oaks

9. Hance Meadow

Location: NW of car park and NE of Ivor Crewe lecture hall

Description: Acid grassland with birch trees

Key plants and insects: Oak, silver birch, subterranean clover (rare), sheep's sorrel, mosses and lichens

10. Oak Parkland and the two lower lakes

Location: North of path to Wivenhoe House

Description: Parkland

Key plants and insects: 400 year old oaks, remains of what Constable described as "a beautiful wood and piece of water"; some American oaks (Q borealis)

11. Ha-Ha and House Pleasure Gardens

Location: Wivenhoe House gardens to Ha-Ha

Description:Landscape of parkland, mature trees

Key plants and insects:Two 200 year old cork oaks

12. Ice House and Pleasure Gardens

Location: Gardens north of Wivenhoe House, containing the old ice house, includes laurel ride along back

Description: Large notable specimen trees, mainly coniferous, laurel ride gardens to ice house

Key plants and insects: Five large Redwoods, Weymouth or Eastern-White Pines, cedars, Wellingtonias, tulip tree, plus other specimen trees

13. Campus Farm and Pond

Location: East of Wivenhoe House

Description: Farm/allotments to the north of the old pond. Old pond with some wetland plants

Key plants and insects: Acid grassland Garden trees

14. Kingfisher Lake

Location: Top lake, between Vice-Chancellor's house and road

Description: Wetland habitat

Key plants and insects: Fallen mature mulberry tree

15. Bluebell Wood

Location: Shelter belt alongside main road from lake to middle lodge

Description: Woodland along Clinghoe Hill road

Key plants and insects: Oak, ash, sweet chestnut, bluebells

16. Benton's Top Heath and Hay Meadows

Location: Triangle of heathland

Description: Large expanse of acid grassland

Key plants and insects: Relict acidic grassland, a scarce habitat with an extremely rich invertebrate fauna. Dominated by Red Fescue, Sheep's Sorrel and Field Wood-rush, with rare Slender Parsley-piert and Blinks occurring in damp seepage areas

17. Rookery Wood

Location: West of middle lodge and the 1845 carriage way

Description: Holm oaks, ash, elms, hornbeam

18. Lower Heath and Woods

Location: Research park site

Description: Mature trees

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