The UNH Ecosystem Task Force collaborates with academic classes, faculty, UNH Facilities Design & Construction, UNH Campus Planning, and UNH Facilities to promote and maintain sustainable landscaping throughout campus for the education and enjoyment of the community, the enhancement of natural systems, and the protection of biodiversity. The UNH Sustainable Landscaping Master Plan (SLMP) became part of the umbrella UNH Campus Master Plan in 2004.
All grass trimmings, prunings, and landscaping waste is brought to Kingman Farm on the UNH campus for composting. In the fall, all of the fallen leaves are collected by UNH Facilities and brought to the Kingman Farm. In the spring, UNH Facilities uses compost from Kingman Farm for all of the Durham campus flowerbeds.
UNH Facilities personnel are responsible for exterior pest monitoring and control on the UNH campus grounds. Crews have worked over the years to try to avoid pesticide use.
The SLMP includes a detailed list of suggested native trees, shrubs, and vines in addition to identifying less desirable, highly invasive species. Also, UNH Cooperative Extension also provides information to the broader UNH community about the benefits of landscaping with native plant species.
Snow & ice removal
UNH snow and ice removal strictly adheres to the broader UNH Stormwater Management Plan. Sand is minimally applied and is offset with salt, as the latter is determined to have less negative impact on the environment than sand. Moreover, all salt-spreading trucks are calibrated to ensure proper distribution of salt. Streets are swept twice a year to collect sand put down during winter storm events. The volume of sand collected is reported within the Stormwater Management Plan, and sand budgets take into account the volume used in the previous year. There are approximately 550 catch basins on campus, which collect stormwater and snow melt, and are part of the cleaning and repair program. An outside company cleans the catch basins, and this is overseen by UNH Utilities.
The UNH Office of Woodlands and Natural Areas (WNA) is responsible for managing wildlife habitat on UNH properties participate in UNH's Ecosystem Task Force. The decisions of the WNA are deeply rooted in their guiding management principles:
- Support ecosystem integrity
- Support biological diversity
- Support sustainable forest utilization
- Protect the productivity of the resources in their care
- Provide educational, research, and recreational opportunities
Characteristics of a sustainable landscape
A sustainable landscape is is ecologically healthy, economically viable, aesthetically pleasing, and equitable in terms of access. Sustainable landscapes contribute to our cultural experiences and enrich our understanding of the human role in natural systems by fostering a strong sense of place. Sustainable landscapes have the following characteristics:
- Biological diversity of plants, animals, and other organisms that is appropriate to ecosystem structure and function.
- Diversity of habitats, as appropriate to the area, to support diverse organisms and foster diverse human experiences.
- Conservation of flora and fauna through the use of endemic plant community models; increased (but not exclusive) use of native species adapted to the region (in New Hampshire's case, cold, hardy, and rugged); sound management of exotic and invasive plant and animal species; minimal site disturbance and preferential re-use of existing plant materials during landscaping; and careful selection, siting, and proper installation of new plant material, including proper after-care, to reduce such problems as transplant shock, long-term stress, on-going maintenance, and mortality.
- Minimum usage of high-maintenance lawn areas.
- Reduced to little usage of mowing, raking, liming, fertilization, irrigation, aeration, soil amendments, pesticide application, etc.
- Reliance on integrated pest management to maintain pest species below action thresholds; limited to no pesticide use.
- Low use of toxic and/or hazardous materials, and lower use of chemicals, petroleum products, and fuels in general.
- Low use of rock-salt and related chemicals for snow and ice removal.
- Conservation of water.
- Conservation of soil through erosion control, retention of organic matter on site (grass clippings, chopped leaves, etc), and minimal to no use of soil pollutants such as salt, petroleum products, toxic chemicals, and heavy metals.
- Protection of vegetation and soils during construction projects and routine maintenance.
- Preferential use of local materials (such as stone and wood products, plants materials, etc.), renewable and recyclable materials, and materials with a small "ecological footprint" or "life-cycle cost."
- Inclusion of education and interpretation of the sustainable "learningscape" - from formal classroom activities to outdoor lab work to informal walks in the landscape.