International Sustainable Campus Network grant will help Trinity shine a light on Irish biodiversity

Researchers at Trinity will use a recently awarded International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) grant to produce 10 short documentaries featuring Ireland’s beautiful plant diversity and wild habitats.

The documentaries will shine a light on the improved biodiversity of Trinity’s campus, including the new wildflower meadow at College Green as it starts to flower next year.

Trinity’s installation of the wildflower meadows fostered tremendous engagement with the public, and this new initiative will build on that incredible groundswell of interest. It will offer those who voted to replace the historic lawns with wildflowers a more detailed insight into the native plant species that have been planted in the meadow area.

Earlier this year, Trinity launched a public vote on whether or not to replace the front lawn facing College Green with wildflowers. The initiative, presented with the goal of increasing biodiversity on the city centre campus, resulted in 90% of 13,500 respondents backing the idea. The meadows were seeded and grown from March onwards, offsite, and then installed in July.

Dr Patrick Prendergast, Provost of Trinity, said:

“Trinity has become a world leader in research and engagement on issues of sustainability and we are proud not to have just encouraged research and dialogue, but to have also acted to make our campus and its many activities as sustainable as possible in recent times.

“For example, over the last two years Trinity has stocked more and more sustainable products in its shops, greatly reduced single-use plastics, switched to using sustainable paper where printing is necessary, planted thousands of bulbs, installed beehives and nesting boxes and planted wildflower meadows on campus.

“I look forward to watching the newly funded documentaries and am sure they will educate and inspire many people, while once again underlining our commitment to supporting and nurturing biodiversity on our historic campus.”

The newly funded documentaries on Ireland’s native flora will continue Trinity’s highly successful ‘5 in Five’ series that was piloted in summer 2020 during lockdown. Each episode features five native plant species in five minutes in an engaging and inclusive style, with each one presented by a different Trinity staff or student presenter.

Guest presenters will also be invited who are Trinity alumni and/or currently working in the field of ecology/biodiversity/conservation. All presenters will serve as ambassadors for promoting plant biodiversity and the importance of sustainable practices and development in an Irish context, thus aligning strongly with the overarching mission of the ISCN.

For more information about the ‘5 in five’ project, and to engage with the videos, see: https://trinitybotanicgarden.ie/5-in-five/

Professor of Botany in Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences, Jennifer McElwain, said:

“We are excited to launch the first video of the new documentary series, featuring native trees,  which was filmed a few weeks ago in the Trinity College Botanic Garden. We have been delighted by the response to the initial ‘5 in five’ videos, which—along with the ongoing interest in the wildflower meadow outside Front Gate—shows just how much thousands of people in and around Dublin care about biodiversity and sustainability.”

Professor McElwain added:

“As the global population becomes increasingly urbanised there is a growing concern that we are rapidly undergoing an ‘extinction of nature experience’ in parallel with the real-world extinction of biodiversity. However, we only value what we know. This project thus aims to directly engage and enhance the knowledge of students and staff at Trinity, along with members of the public, on Ireland’s native plant diversity and the importance of sustainable development for wild species and habitats.”

Trinity became the first Irish University to join and maintain membership of the ISCN in 2018. As a member, Trinity is now connected into a global network of universities pursuing sustainability initiatives.

Michele Hallahan, Sustainability Advisor at Trinity, said:

“Trinity has taken a number of really positive steps towards sustainability in recent years, with the conversion of the lawns to wildflower meadows being just one recent example of an important action inspired by the wishes of our staff, students and the general public, whose ongoing interest and engagement in the project underlines how much our society values biodiversity, green space, and sustainable living.

“We believe Trinity and its people have a unique role to play in developing the technologies, strategies, citizens, and leaders required for a more sustainable future. We are delighted to have received this ISCN grant and hope the documentaries it will support will help us inspire and educate many people about Trinity’s—and Ireland’s—biodiversity.”

See https://www.tcd.ie/provost/sustainability/planningprogress/iscn/ to learn more about the ISCN.