[A] project to nurture nature in Carlisle city centre is underway thanks to students studying zoology at the University of Cumbria.
Bird, bat and hedgehog boxes have been placed around the campus at Fusehill Street to support rare species of wildlife, and remotely operated camera traps have been set up to record the number of species present.
The project was the brainchild of students Hannah Dover and Sophie Gibson.
“As part of the course here we’ve been hearing how wildlife that was once commonplace even in towns and cities is now in decline,” Hannah said. “By setting up this biodiversity project we hope to make a contribution to helping sustain the wildlife that remains and encourage it to flourish.”
Sophie added: “The other benefit is it will mean we will be able monitor and identify wildlife within the grounds of the university for the duration of the course and hopefully pass on the information we glean to future zoology students to keep the project going and accurately chart changes in the years to come.”
And the project is already enjoying some success. One hedgehog was successfully filmed by a camera trap on the first day with two others also recorded in the weeks since the project began.
“I set them a challenge to individually identify the hedgehogs by marking them and then setting camera traps to establish the population and territory size on campus,” Dr Mic Mayhew, lecturer in zoology, said. “Nationally the species is in steep decline and need all the help they can get.”
The management plan is set to continue into the future and will benefit iconic species like the swift whose population in the UK has dropped by almost 50% in the last 20 years.
“We have already placed animal boxes around campus and are building a small pond next year,” Hannah said.