Social Responsibility and Sustainability


Nature's variety of organic life is important to human health. Biodiversity not only contributes to wellbeing, but also provides vital ecosystem services for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The University will protect existing biodiversity on campuses and enhance opportunities for biodiversity by taking a holistic approach that prioritises our interactions with wider communities of organisms, including humans, and dynamic landscapes.

University of Edinburgh vision for biodiversity

Projects that contribute to the University's vision for biodiversity include focused work on mapping species, such as hedgehogs, and wider initiatives looking at geodiversity and conservation, and biophilia and placemaking.

Hedgehog friendly campus

Campus to create wildlife haven for hedgehogs
Tunnels with paper and ink to record hedgehog tracks

In January 2020, the University of Edinburgh was awarded bronze accreditation as a Hedgehog Friendly Campus. Training was provided for 20 volunteers who carried out a hedgehog footprint survey on the Easter Bush campus. Hog prints were found in three locations, as a result, cameras were set up in these locations to gather further evidence of their presence. Similar footprint surveys at Pollock Halls, Peffermill Playing Fields and the Centre for Regenerative Medicine at BioQuarter also had positive results.

Currently working towards gold award.

Find out more about the hedgehog friendly campus project Listen to the Ecological Hedgehog Medicine Webinar

Watch a webinar exploring the tensions and contradictions of herbicide use

'How Green Is Your Campus?' project

How green is your campus biodiversity map
How green is your campus biodiversity map

The project aims to map the type and location of green (e.g. trees shrubs, grass etc.) and blue (water) infrastructure on campus. It also plans to integrate additional layers of data such as flood risk and overheating data to assess current vulnerability of urban areas to climate change impacts. An app is used to collect this information.

The project is a collaboration between EDINA, a division of Information Services Group, the Estates Department, the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability (SRS), the student co-applicant and Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT).

Mapping has been completed at the Kings Buildings and Pollock Hall and is planned for Easter Bush and Central Campus. Green Campus Tours is part of a green infrastructure mapping project, How Green is Your Campus? The campus tours aim to improve student and staff knowledge of and access to natural areas and green amenities on campus.

Find out more about 'How Green Is Your Campus?'

Take a campus tour!

Edinburgh's Thriving Greenspaces Project

Meadows biodiversity
The Meadows

Edinburgh is one of eight urban areas to share in £11 million worth of funding from the Heritage Fund and the National Trust to secure the future of the UK’s parks and greenspaces. The University of Edinburgh is working in partnership with others on this project to carry out research, start pilots and gather robust baseline information.

The Green Infrastructure Mapping Pilot Project forms part of Edinburgh University's contribution. A mobile app, the Parks Green Infrastructure Mapping app, allows the Council to measure the quality of parks and improve upon them, accounting for biodiversity and natural services that contribute to health and wellbeing, with ongoing community engagement.

Read the announcement article from Greenspace Scotland Read the Edinburgh Council summary of the project

Green Communities programme

Interactions and communities are important not only in terms of conservation of nonhuman organisms but also in terms of health and wellbeing. Human health relies on ecological systems and species within them. Physical and psychological wellbeing has also been linked to contact with biodiversity or nature. The University’s Green Communities programme meets this need by providing staff and students with opportunities to green campuses and to participate in community projects in the wider Edinburgh community.

Current strands of this project include local food growing (for example, the student-led Kings Buildings Permaculture Garden pilot) and walks for wellbeing (for example, plant identification walks led by SRUC horticulture students, currently on hold).

Find out more about the Kings Buildings Permaculture Garden on their Facebook page

Living lab project: Nature, Greenspace and Health undergraduate course

Nature Greenspace and Health course group
Nature Greenspace and Health course

The Nature, Greenspace and Health undergraduate course takes a living labs approach to study the ways in which gardens, parks, flora, fauna, and biodiversity more generally may impact on the health of humans and human communities. Students use a social justice lens, examining how access and engagement with nature and the outdoors is unequally distributed within communities and how environmental injustice may contribute to the observed correlation between social inequality and health inequality.

Find out more about Nature, Greenspace and Health

College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

Biodiversity has been championed at the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine in the form of several projects including an animated sustainability map, the Easter Bush Campus Apiary and vegetable garden managed by staff and students.

View the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies sustainability map Find out more about the Easter Bush Campus Apiary Find out more about the Easter Bush Campus Vegetable Garden

More for information or to ask us a question about biodiversity, contact us:

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Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability
The Boilerhouse
High School Yards

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