Indigenous Flora on Campus: A Feasibility Study
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Students at Dalhousie University Studley campus poorly identified indigenous plants of Nova Scotia. We propose that students are unable to identify native species because much of the Studley campus landscape consists of exotic Nova Scotian plant species. The environmental, social, and economic benefits of having indigenous species on Studley campus are discussed. Interviews with ecology and biology professors identified many of these benefits, including maintaining the ecological integrity of the campus. These interviews also identified current landscaping practices and possible future projects involving indigenous landscaping (i.e. rooftop gardens). Possible methods of implementing new indigenous areas are also discussed, including methods such as soil grafting. Facilities Management provided information on university operations, funding sources (i.e. graduate societies) and contact information for their current landscape architect. Results of a group administered questionnaire to students on Studley campus show that the length of time a student has lived in Nova Scotia and the level of education they have obtained are positively correlated with their ability to identify indigenous plant species of Nova Scotia. We discovered that 61% of students feel that there are benefits to having more indigenous species on campus and over 50% were able to name benefits of including native species in the landscape (i.e. educational and conservation benefits). A cost analysis determined that using volunteer work would be the most cost effective way to implement the project. We recommend that future students focus on an inventory of current species on campus, open communication with Facilities Management, research pertaining to the maintenance of exotic versus indigenous species, and the costs associated with their maintenance.