Trinity to use awarded grant to produce documentaries on plant diversity

Researchers at Trinity College Dublin will use an awarded grant to produce 10 short documentaries featuring Ireland’s plant diversity and wild habitats.

Using the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) grant that was awarded recently, the series of documentaries on biodiversity on Trinity’s campus will bring the public closer to the newly established wildflower meadows.

Trinity’s installation of the wildflower meadows fostered “tremendous engagement with the public”, and this new initiative will “build on that groundswell of interest”.

It will offer those who voted to replace the historic lawns with wildflowers a more detailed insight into the native plant species that have been planted in the meadow area.

Earlier this year, Trinity launched a public vote on whether or not to replace the front lawn facing College Green with wildflowers. The initiative, presented with the goal of increasing biodiversity on the city centre campus, resulted in 90% of 13,500 respondents backing the idea. The meadows were seeded and grown from March onwards, offsite, and then installed in July.

Dr. Patrick Prendergast, provost of Trinity, said:

“We are proud not to have just encouraged research and dialogue, but to have also acted to make our campus and its many activities as sustainable as possible in recent times.

“For example, over the last two years, Trinity has stocked more and more sustainable products in its shops, greatly reduced single-use plastics, switched to using sustainable paper where printing is necessary, planted thousands of bulbs, installed beehives and nesting boxes and planted wildflower meadows on campus.

“I look forward to watching the newly-funded documentaries and am sure they will educate and inspire many people.”

‘Extinction of nature experience’

The newly-funded documentaries on Ireland’s native flora will continue Trinity’s ‘5 in Five’ series that was piloted during the summer. Each episode featured five native plant species in five minutes, with each one presented by a different Trinity staff or student presenter.

Guest presenters will also be invited who are Trinity alumni and/or currently working in the field of ecology/biodiversity/conservation.

Professor of botany in Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences, Jennifer McElwain, said:

As the global population becomes increasingly urbanised, there is a growing concern that we are rapidly undergoing an ‘extinction of nature experience’ in parallel with the real-world extinction of biodiversity.

“However, we only value what we know. This project aims to directly engage and enhance the knowledge of students and staff at Trinity, along with members of the public, on Ireland’s native plant diversity and the importance of sustainable development for wild species and habitats.”

Trinity became the first Irish university to join and maintain membership of the ISCN in 2018. As a member, Trinity is now connected into a global network of universities pursuing sustainability initiatives.