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Keep the green flag flying at Michael Smith

19 Apr 2017

Help our biodiversity garden that’s home to frogs, insects, orchids – and carbon worth 60 Manchester to Paris return flights


A new gardening squad is needed for the Michael Smith Building’s quad – a biodiversity garden that’s home to frogs, insects and carbon worth 60 Manchester to Paris return flights.

The Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health and the University’s Environmental Sustainability team have organised a launch event for colleagues to sign up on Tuesday, 25 April (noon-2pm).

There will be a variety of activities taking place such as gardening workshops and classes, plant sales, seed swaps, a tool amnesty, competitions, cargo bike demonstrations and more. There will also be sandwiches and refreshments provided.

The quad has been established as a biodiversity garden for the past three years and includes a large pond, raised flower beds, borders with wild flower mixes, areas of hay meadow, bluebells and various orchid species.  Insects, such as pond skaters and dragon flies, live in and around the pond which is also home to a healthy community of frogs.

And it has grown to be an important part of life in the Michael Smith Building.  The raised flower beds are maintained by teams of staff and postgraduate students, with an annual competition for the best displays.  In the summer, many more people use the quad for coffee and lunch breaks than is seen in comparable quads in other buildings.  It is also used for various social events such as the annual Life Science festival.

In a recent staff survey, 90% of respondents stated that they appreciated the use of the quad as a biodiversity garden, with comments such as “It is wonderful, don’t change it.  It is a very relaxing place to take a break and destress”.

The quad has also contributed to teaching and research as an example of a living lab.  Students from Biology, Zoology, Plant Sciences and Environmental Sciences have all taken part in regular “bio blitzes”, giving them training in identification and contributing to a data bank, examining how the quad natural community is developing over time.  Recently, a sustainability summer student carried out a detailed analysis of the soils within the quad and was able to show that the carbon stored in the soil in the quad is equivalent to 60 return flights from Manchester to Paris.

How to book

To come to the launch, register at: