Students Staff

Biodiversity

Biodiversity plays an important role at the University of Essex. Our Colchester Campus is set in a former deer park on the banks of the Colne River. The grounds of the campus retain relict acidic grassland, a scarce habitat type. Together with taller grassland, scrub and lakes, these form a complex mosaic of habitats with an extremely rich invertebrate fauna.

The campus also contains rare coastal grazing marsh and many notable specimen trees, including oaks, redwoods and black poplars. There are 18 major habitats on the Colchester Campus.

Colchester Campus habitats and biodiversity survey and plan

  • 1 Popular Row

    Location

    Along Boundary Road.

    Description

    Row of poplars along road banks of grassland up to west facing buildings.

    Key plants and insects

    Black poplars and Carolina poplars.

    Management issues

    Leave some of grass on banks uncut.

  • 2 Nightingale Wood

    Location

    SW corner of campus.

    Description

    Mixed woodland.

    Key plants and insects

    Oaks, nightingales in spring.

    Management issues

    Maintain bird and bat boxes.

  • 3 Skipper's Meadows

    Location

    SW corner of campus.

    Description

    Open grassland next to Nightingale Wood.

    Key plants and insects

    Acid grassland species.

    Management issues

    Conservation management to clear some brambles and scrub.

  • 4 Grazing Marsh

    Location

    Between railway line and Boundary Road.

    Description

    High quality freshwater grazing marsh (designated habitat).

    Key plants and insects

    Relict grazing-marsh retaining many typical spp, eg Grass Vetchling, Dittander, Hairy Buttercup and Divided Sedge; larger drains support Common Reed.

  • 5 Green Lane

    Location

    Lane by side of campus to railway line.

    Description

    Sunken lane.

    Key plants and insects

    Mix of woodland species

  • 6 South Courts Grassland

    Location

    Inside Boundary Road bend.

    Description

    Lawns, grassland, scrub and mature trees.

    Key plants and insects

    Subterranean clover, rare black poplar trees.

    Management issues

    Leave strip of grass by current shrubs.

  • 7 Cherry Row

    Location

    Inside Boundary Road to bus stop.

    Description

    Row of trees and rough grassland.

    Key plants and insects

    Cherry trees and elms.

  • 8 Kidney Wood

    Location

    West of sports centre towards towers.

    Description

    Mature woodland trees.

    Key plants and insects

    Oaks and sweet chestnuts; three pencil oaks.

    Management issues

    Leave central triangle unmown.

  • 9 Hance Meadows

    Location

    NW of car park and NE of IC lecture hall.

    Description

    Acid grassland with birch trees.

    Key plants and insects

    Oak, silver birch, subterranean clover (rare), sheep's sorrel, mosses and lichens.

    Management issues

    Leave as is.

  • 10 Oak Parkland and the two lower lakes

    Location

    North of path to Wivenhoe House.

    Description

    Parkland.

    Key plants and insects

    400 year old oaks, remains of what Constable described as "a beautiful wood and piece of water"; some American oaks (Q borealis).

    Management issues

    Leave as is.

  • 11 Ha-Ha and House Pleasure Gardens

    Location

    Wivenhoe House gardens to Ha-Ha.

    Description

    Landscape of parkland, mature trees.

    Key plants and insects

    Two 200 year old cork oaks.

    Management issues

    Leave as is.

  • 12 Ice-House Pleasure Gardens

    Location

    Gardens north of Wivenhoe House, containing the old ice house, includes laurel ride along back.

    Description

    Large notable specimen trees, mainly coniferous, laurel ride gardens to ice house.

    Key plants and insects

    Five large Redwoods, Weymouth or Eastern-White Pines, cedars, Wellingtonias, tulip tree, plus other specimen trees.

    Management issues

    Open up Ice House.

  • 13 Campus Farm and Pond

    Location

    East of Wivenhoe House.

    Description

    Farm/allotments to the north of the old pond. Old pond with some wetland plants.

    Key plants and insects

    Acid grassland Garden trees.

    Management issues

    Water to pond and farm.

  • 14 Kingfisher Lake

    Location

    Top lake, between Vice-Chancellor's house and road.

    Description

    Wetland habitat.

    Key plants and insects

    Fallen mature mulberry tree.

  • 15 Bluebell Wood

    Location

    Shelter belt alongside main road from lake to middle lodge.

    Description

    Woodland along Clinghoe Hill road.

    Key plants and insects

    Oak, ash, sweet chestnut, bluebells.

    Management issues

    Open up some glades in woodland.

  • 16 Benton's Top Heath and Hay Meadows

    Location

    Triangle of heathland.

    Description

    Large expanse of acid grassland.

    Key plants and insects

    Relict acidic grassland, a scarce habitat with an extremely rich invertebrate fauna. Dominated by Red Fescue, Sheep's Sorrel and Field Wood-rush, with rare Slender Parsley-piert and Blinks occurring in damp seepage areas.

    Management issues

    Cut carefully and late to ensure best invertebrate diversity.

  • 17 Rookery Wood

    Location

    West of middle lodge and the 1845 carriage way.

    Description

    Holm oaks, ash, elms, hornbeam.

  • 18 Lower Heath and Woods

    Location

    Research park site.

    Description

    Mature trees.