We collaborate with local community groups, and several of our staff are active participants.
In November 2019, we hosted a debate about ‘Wilding’ Kent and species reintroduction to improve the landscape, restore complex habitats and enhance biodiversity. The event was co-organised with Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT) and Wildwood Trust, who are planning to ‘wild’ the Blean, one of the largest areas of ancient woodland in England, through a trial release of large herbivores, including European bison.
Since this event, Adriana Consorte-McCrea and the research team have worked with both Trusts to study the attitudes of different local groups towards the proposed reintroduction of the red chough, identifying key areas in human-wildlife interactions that would affect the success of the ‘Wilder Kent’ project.
In 2021/22 we took students on day trips to Wildwood as part of the University's Connect initiative to help young people reconnect with nature and each other in the wake of the pandemic.
In 2014, the University planted its first hop garden with East Kent Goldings hops and, two years later, with three heritage hop varieties from the National Hop Collection in Wye. At the same time we set up a collaboration with the Canterbury Brewers and Distillers, who annually produce our heritage Green Hop Ale using 100% hand picked green hops.
The collaboration was further extended in 2016 with a student project to isolate new yeast strains from the Canterbury Campus grounds, which are part of the Outer Precints of St Augustine's Abbey, and part of the Canterbury World Heritage Site (WHS). Ultimately the yeast strains were not suitable for ale, but one of them was suitable for the distillation of the first Foundry Whiskey (currently maturing in an American Bourbon cask).
The Meaningful Maps project was established in 2018 to create an archive of maps drawn by children aged 5-16 portraying the places which matter to them. An independent research initiative, the project aims to create a social portrait of Britain through the eyes of young people. It is supported by CCCU and endorsed by the Geographical Association and the British Cartographic Society.
CCCU is part of the Canterbury in Bloom team that has successfully gained Gold for its entry in South and South East in Bloom 2020. Led by the Business Improvement District (BID), the Canterbury in Bloom team is formed of twenty local community groups, businesses, and local authority members who work to keep Canterbury’s gardens, parks, and streets flourishing throughout the year.
CCCU’s main North Holmes Road campus falls within the outer precinct of St Augustine’s Abbey, part of Canterbury’s UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) that also includes Canterbury Cathedral and St Martin’s. Its green spaces and the species that live there are nurtured for their own sake, but also provide resources for learning, for community engagement, and for health and wellbeing. The growing of traditional hops from the Kent region takes place on the Canterbury campus and brewing has long been associated with the Abbey site. One of the few elements of remaining medieval architecture on the campus is the end wall of the monastic brew and bakehouse.
During 2019-20, one of CCCU’s pocket habitats, the Johnson Garden, was transformed into a Community Wellbeing Garden, a relaxing space where students and staff can refresh mind and body. The University’s contribution to In Bloom includes the fact that Bioblitzes and other events are held on site and are open to students and staff, and on occasions to the local community. These events help people to understand the heritage and natural history of the site and provide training in plant and animal identification.
Canterbury Christ Church Creatives is a group for students and staff of the University which brings people together to craft and make art for enjoyment and wellbeing. We're delighted to collaborate with them regularly on sustainability initiatives; recent collaborations have included a pilot year of Craftivism workshops combining hands-on creative skills with activism, and a bee-bombing event in the spring of 2021 to celebrate the launch of Hive, a novel by CCCU’s own April Doyle, and raise awareness of pollinator decline. Handcrafted bees were placed across campus by the Student Green Office and Canterbury Creatives over the course of three weeks for staff, students and visitors to discover, with information to learn more about ways to help pollinators and and wildflower seed paper to plant.
We supported the creation of a Canterbury District Biodiversity Network, whose aim is to raise awareness of the global biodiversity crisis and ensure that increased priority is given to tackling it at the local level, and continue to be active members. The Network currently has more than 50 participant organisations and more than 100 members.
The Network formed during lockdown to facilitate the exchange of information between groups, promote nature-based solutions to climate change and encourage local, regional, and national action to address the biodiversity crisis.
As well as learning about local projects and events, members have the opportunity to participate in site visits where they can see different conservation projects in action. Activities have included a visit to Elmley Marshes Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey, a ‘beaver walk’ along the River Stour, a tour of an old orchard at Mystole near Canterbury, now managed for nightingales and turtle doves, and more recently, there have been trips to Seasalter Levels and Lydden Valley/Worth Marshes, both managed by the RSPB to enhance wildlife.
The Canterbury Climate Action Partnership (CCAP), an independent, not-for-profit Community Interest Company. CCAP is working closely with the city and county councils and cross-party local councillors to mobilise action towards a more sustainable future and achieve a zero-carbon district by 2030.
In October 2021, we hosted a Climate Action Day mini-conference as part of the CCAP Climate Week events preceding COP26, and in September 2022 hosted the annual Canterbury Climate Action Partnership Festival. We also hosted a series of events for COP28 and the Canterbury Climate Action Festival and Awards 2023.
CCCU are long-standing members of the EAUC Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education. Any staff or student within our organisation can sign up for access to the EAUC's membership resources, which includes a regular e-newsletter with information and updates in the wider sustainability sector, networks, and communities of practice, a programme of webinars, events and conferences, and more.
In order to sign up, you just need to go to the Choose A Subscription page, select our institution from the list and use your University email address to apply. Once your membership is authorised, you can sign in and visit the Member Zone where you'll find dedicated sections of resources for university staff and for students.
CCCU is a member of the Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS) 'For Good' programme. This innovative programme links students with organisations across the UK and sometimes further afield to collaborate on research, dissertations, placements, and practical projects to progress environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
Since 2012, we’ve been participating in the British Heart Foundation’s ‘Pack for Good’ initiative, which diverts waste by providing accessible donation points for unwanted goods at our Canterbury Campus.