The University of Oxford was named a top wildlife-friendly UK university in a study conducted by bird provider company Ark Wildlife in January 2023. As a top UK university in wildlife protection, Oxford was categorised as Platinum tier and met 100% of the study’s ranking factors.
According to the Ark Wildlife, Platinum tier UK wildlife-friendly universities need to have conducted a wildlife survey since January 2021 and hold established policies to protect wildlife. Universities should also provide partnerships or funding for local wildlife causes and biodiversity or wildlife activities, aspects that were factored into the rankings. Universities that were not ranked Platinum tier were categorised as Gold, Silver, Bronze, or “needing improvement”.
As a Platinum tier institution, Oxford promotes biodiversity by constructing multiple plans for wildlife conservation at Wytham Woods, a forest owned by the University. Apart from biodiversity measures, Oxford is establishing a tree policy for its entire estate and has various regional partnerships with environmental organisations such as the Freshwater Habitats Trust, Heritage Trees, and Badger Trust. The University is also addressing meadow management on adjoining sites in collaboration with its individual colleges and Oxfordshire Preservation Trust.
To educate staff and students about the importance of protecting local wildlife, Oxford University offers opportunities to engage in related activities at Wytham Woods that include habitat monitoring and butterfly, bee, and wildflower transects. Oxford also promotes wildlife conservation to the public by providing bee boxes for schools and offering sustainability courses.
Ark Wildlife assessed 122 UK universities on their wildlife protection measures on and off-campus. Among the universities surveyed, 41 were ranked Platinum, 27 were ranked Gold, 23 were ranked Silver, 12 were ranked Bronze, and 19 were categorised as “needing improvement”. Out of the 41 Platinum tier universities, 13 were Russell Group universities.
“It’s clear that some universities are taking wildlife conservation extremely seriously, and it’s great to see,” Ark Wildlife director Sean McMenemy said, adding that those universities are “really in tune with the local environment, providing invaluable habitats to animals in the area”.
McMenemy emphasised that the top wildlife-friendly UK institutions are actively motivating students to become involved. “This will breed greater awareness of conservation methods and just how vital wildlife is to the UK. Hopefully, it will also instill a lifelong love of animals and the environment in their graduates,” he stated.