Biodiversity at AU

Selected areas at Aarhus University have already been designated as areas of biodiversity. In 2022 and the years ahead, more trial areas will be allocated to biodiversity projects, which will contribute to the university’s sustainable development. Read more on this webpage.


Vision

The areas of biodiversity are part of the overall vision at AU for the sustainable development of campus. They can also be used for research, for teaching about ecosystems and plant and animal species, or as social meeting places.

These areas will also contribute to increasing local biodiversity. It is important that the areas can coexist with and contribute positively to the overall experience of the university's unique campus areas, also in environments worthy of preservation.

New trial areas

Where are the trial areas located?

The areas will be established in collaboration between local operation managers, gardeners, researchers and students. They will be run by AU’s Parks and Gardens Section.

Questions?

If you have any questions or input for AU’s biodiversity work, feel free to contact Eva Flensborg


What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity refers to diversity and variety in living organisms (flora and fauna) in a given environment. The term covers the variety of different species but also the genetic variety within a single species as well as the variety of habitats and the interplay between different species.

Biodiversity, the number of different species, plants, animals and fungi, are affected by factors such as:

  • Habitat variety: The more habitats (e.g. dry/damp areas, shadowy/sunny areas, nutrient rich or poor areas), the better the breeding ground for biodiversity.
  • Area size: The greater the area, the better the chance of biodiversity.
  • Continuity: Time is an important factor for the development of a given area’s nature and biodiversity.
  • Resources and habitats: Species depend on areas that offer the right resources in terms of nourishment as well as suitable places to hide or to establish breeding grounds.
  • Distance to existing natural areas: The closer a species’ existing habitat is to a new suitable habitat, the greater the chance of the species spreading there.

Wild vs cultivated nature in the University Park

AU’s buildings in Aarhus are spread across a unique campus area, with the University Park (at approx. 200,000 m2) as its important centre. The University Park is made up of lakes, green hills and solitary oak trees, and it enjoys a special status as a cultural environment with a high preservation value. This imposes certain limitations on which areas in the park can be allocated to biodiversity projects.

It is crucial that the areas contribute positively to the overall experience and use of the university’s unique campus and that the issue of ‘wild vs cultivated nature’ is considered during the planning process. For example, it is important to ask which areas would benefit from a more cultivated park environment and which areas would benefit from biodiversity. Both aesthetic and practical concerns must be considered when deciding on possible uses of the park.

It is important that students, employees and the city’s residents are still able to stroll through and enjoy green areas, and that the park can be used for large events.

 

Existing areas

The following areas have already been designated as areas of biodiversity.

  • The ‘Fuldt Flor’ areas: Two areas: one close to the Department of Ecoscience and the other along the watercourse behind the Lakeside Lecture Theatres.
  • AU Garden near the intersection between Nordre Ringgade and Trøjborgvej in Aarhus. 
  • A courtyard area by building complex 1520 in the University Park.

The two ‘Fuldt Flor’ areas are maintained by staff and students, though AU gardeners are responsible for mowing the lawn.

Possibility plan for the University Park

possibility plan(in Danish) has been developed for the University Park, which highlights relevant aspects of the University Park’s use, history and development, the main preservation values, natural potentials, possible goals, and the impact on park operations.

Schedule and goals

The new trial areas are being built in 2022.

The goal for 2022 is to:

  • establish development areas that will lead to a min. 25 per cent increase in the number of indigenous plant species
  • establish structural elements that will result in greater diversity among habitats available to more species
  • allocate 600 m2 to meadow or pasture
  • allocate 3 m3 to dead wood
  • establish two stone circles of approx. 2 meters

The goal for the next five years is to:

  • increase the total number of registered species by 25 per cent over five years
  • increase the amount of rare species by 25 per cent
  • allocate at least 10 m3 to dead wood
  • establish at least five stone circles / rock piles of approx. 2 m3.
  • establish at least 3,000 m2 of flowering meadow areas or pasture
  • replace at least 30 per cent of shrubbery of a non-native variety with shrubbery of a native variety.

Organisation

The task of allocating more of AU’s green areas to biodiversity is managed by a working group that consists of:

  • Programme manager for AU’s climate initiative, Susanne Søes Hejlsvig sush@au.dk
  • Special consultant at AU Estates Projects and Development – Campus Planning and Projects, Eva Holdgaard Jensen Flensborg ehjf@au.dk
  • Head of building services, Aarhus BSS, Peter Bachmann Vestergaard pbv@au.dk 
  • External landscape architects and biologists.

The daily management of AU’s green spaces is carried out by AU’s gardeners, who are in charge of maintaining the green areas as well as sweeping and winter-proofing the pavements, paths and roads.