Alumni sustainability newsletter

July 2023

A geese surrounded by a pigeon and two ducks

Welcome to the second edition of the Alumni Sustainability Newsletter

The University of York’s 500-acre parkland campus with substantial lakes is home to a diverse range of wildlife and many people are involved in maintaining and improving the beautiful environment. This edition focuses on wildlife on campus, volunteering, a panel discussion on ocean health, Green Impact programme and our beloved unofficial campus mascot, Long Boi. We hope you enjoy reading it!

Wildlife on campus

Gordon eastham, grounds & estates manager

The university has always taken encouraging and looking after wildlife seriously. From its early history with campus wildfowl attracted by the lake, to the present, with the recent sighting of Black Winged Stilts on Campus East and Oystercatchers currently breeding on the roof of the Berwick Saul building.

Habitat creation and improving biodiversity accelerated with the development of Campus East to the extent where we now have extensive green infrastructure supporting an abundance of wildlife, such as the numerous colonies of Orchids to be found on both campuses, including Bee, Common Spotted, Marsh and Pyramidal species, which can currently all be seen in flower.

In July 2022 we had the first signs of interest in the Peregrine Falcons nesting box which was put up on the Central Boiler House chimney on Innovation Way, back in 2014. A lone bird could be seen on and around the box for several weeks during spring, but nesting activity hasn’t yet taken place. There have also been several sightings of Otters periodically over the last few years.

"In mid-June a female Roe Deer and her fawn were also spotted on Campus East"

Early this year the university also achieved a platinum award for being a hedgehog friendly campus. The award was the culmination of several years work improving habitat, regular feeding and rescuing and rehabilitating hedgehogs for re-release on campus.

Our future aims are to continue to improve our green infrastructure both to the benefit of wildlife and campus users. If you'd like to find out more, you can read our ecological management plan.

A black winged stilt bird mid flight

Black Winged Stilt

Black Winged Stilt

A pyramidal orchid with campus west lake in the background

Pyramidal Orchid on Campus West

Pyramidal Orchid on Campus West

A roe deer surrounded by tall grass and a lake in the background

A Roe Deer spotted on Campus East

A Roe Deer spotted on Campus East

A hedgehog in the dark surrounded by dry leaves and grass

A hedgehog spotted while releasing a rehabilitated hog on campus

A hedgehog spotted while releasing a rehabilitated hog on campus

Ocean Health Panel Discussion

On this year's World Environment Day Dr Bryce Stewart, Senior Lecturer of Environment and Geography, chaired an online Panel Discussion on ocean health and Sustainability. A range of speakers from diverse backgrounds - from marine science to finance - shared their insights. Watch the full discussion.

Dr Bryce Stewart has been featured in a new campaigning film, Catch 22, made by the same team who devised the acclaimed BBC series, ’Wild Isles’. It aims to tackle the UK’s biodiversity crisis in marine habitats, and makes clear the damage being caused not just to wildlife, but also to businesses and livelihoods.

news from esay: the big community challenge

Environmental Sustainability at York (ESAY) is making tremendous strides in enhancing our commitment to environmental sustainability through teaching, research, and campus operations. Over the past few months we have embarked on a series of initiatives aimed at enriching biodiversity on our campus and within the broader community.

One highlight of our efforts has been supporting this year's Big Community Challenge (BCC), a collaborative endeavour with York Cares dedicated to restoring river and wetland areas across York. Spanning from 5th to 29th June, the challenge saw enthusiastic involvement from staff and students who formed over 30 volunteer teams.

"During the challenge Campus East witnessed the planting of 500 tansy plants, paving the way for the development of a thriving tansy habitat"

Additionally, 500 reeds were thoughtfully planted in the lake, further enhancing biodiversity. Meanwhile other dedicated volunteers undertook the essential task of removing 4,760 tree spirals on Kimberlow Hill to ensure the continuous growth of trees in the area.

Learn more about this year's inspiring Big Community Challenge

A woman is planting in the campus east lake, while another woman is digging to the left of her on land
Close up of a woman planting, while another woman helps her
two men are stood in a lake planting reeds, while a woman is in the middle holding a trowel

Green Impact

Green Impact is a sustainability accreditation programme for staff and students that rewards green behaviours within colleges and departments. It is run by SOS-UK (sustainability charity linked to National Union of Students UK (NUS)). We celebrated the efforts and achievements of all our teams at the University at the annual Green Impact Awards in June. Awards are presented to teams who have made significant impact in their work area, in award categories Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. This year’s awards were presented by Vice Chancellor Professor Charlie Jeffery. 

four members of a green impact team are smiling next to the vice chancellor Charlie Jeffrey who is holding a green impact certificate in the centre

This year's Green Impact in stats:

50,000kg c02 committed to saving

By the York Alumni Sustainability Network

24 green impact teams who took part

Reaching 1,232 members of staff and students

888 sustainable actions completed

Using the Green Impact toolkit

15,458 sheets of paper saved by green impact

By Green Impact teams at the university

Long Boi

Long Boi was a campus duck who rose to fame in 2019 after a student created an Instagram account in his name. A Mallard and Indian Runner Duck cross, Long Boi was recognisable by his bold personality and unusual stature. He was noticeably taller than his fellow ducks, standing at around 70cm high.

It is unclear how Long Boi came to live on campus, but reports suggest he was first noticed in early 2019. His verified Instagram account, which grew to have more than 54,000 followers, was launched in May 2019.

In the years that followed, Long Boi reached unexpected heights of fame. He made appearances in global media, including on the Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Greg James and James Corden’s Late Late show in the US.

Long Boi was dubbed “Britain’s most famous duck”

In May 2023, Long Boi was declared presumed dead, after fans noticed he had not been seen in more than two months. Mourning was led by Radio 1, and Greg James hosted a national “quack-a-long” in his memory. Celebrities including George Ezra, Sam Ryder and Joe Lycett joined the memorial, quacking in solidarity with thousands of fans across the country and around the world.

A memorial fund was set up by YUSU and £5,347 was raised to build a 'statue in honour of his longthiness'

Have you downloaded the Giki app?

Do you enjoy using Giki? Or have you signed up but not logged in for a while? If you’ve already created a Giki account from a browser, you can download Giki Zero app from App Store or Google Play and check your carbon footprint on the go!

Please note: you need to create your account first from here, before you download the app.

A screenshot of the Giki app

Upcoming Sustainability Dates



Plastic Free July - July (whole month)

Join millions of people this July aiming to cut down on plastic and be part of the solution to plastic pollution

World Nature Conservation Day - July 28th

Raise awareness of the importance of looking after our planet

World Car Free Day - 22nd September

Aim to travel by means other than car this World Car Free Day

York Environment Week - 23rd September - 1st October

Join the City-wide festival showcasing and celebrating the work of environment groups active in York

Save the planet in style Giki Challenge - 2nd October

Cut down on fast fashion and grow your wardrobe sustainability by taking part in our next Giki challenge!

Thank You!

We hope you've enjoyed reading the second edition of our sustainability newsletter. If you'd like to get involved in shaping the Sustainability Network, please get in touch at

Do you like these images? These wildlife photos were taken by York alumna YorkshireBumble on campus!

A close up of a duckling's head
A close up of a rabbit surrounded by flowers