Biodiversity loss is caused by multiple interacting factors, of which climate change is increasingly important, both directly (such as through increasing temperatures) and indirectly (such as through invasive species). Our decisions about food, information technology and building works in the University can be traced back directly to destruction of nature in South America, central Africa and south-east Asia.
The University harms biodiversity both directly and indirectly. Most of our direct impacts relate to the management and development of our estate. We can mitigate these through commitments to increasing biodiversity in our estate management and in our developments. The indirect impacts from the University’s operations and supply chain on biodiversity are much greater. This includes our sourcing, consumption and disposal of food, water and materials. We also have both positive and negative biodiversity effects through activities such as advising policymakers, education, research and investments.
Our impact on biodiversity needs to be accounted for, with negative impacts mitigated and positive impacts enhanced, to demonstrate an overall gain in biodiversity from all our activities.
The Mitigation and Conservation Hierarchy, an Oxford-developed framework, is used to address our impacts through these actions:
- Refrain – refrain from actions that damage biodiversity
- Reduce – reduce the damage our remaining actions create
- Restore – restore biodiversity that has been damaged
- Renew – renew and enhance nature
The University aims to achieve biodiversity net gain through avoidance and reduction of the negative impact of our operations and supply chain (Refrain and Reduce), biodiversity enhancements on and off the estate (Restore and Renew), and biodiversity offsetting (Renew). The best available metrics for biodiversity will be used.
Biodiversity in our backyard
The University of Oxford estate covers a vast and diverse patchwork of land holdings, many of which are in urban locations. We recognise that even within our urban setting we can create important spaces for nature and connect biodiverse areas. We are hoping to enhance these spaces by installing living roofs, nesting boxes and ensuring effective management of our green spaces.
We also work to provide opportunities for staff, students and visitors to the University to play an active part in supporting biodiversity on our doorstep.