Apply a restorative ecosystem approach in landscape management to regenerate healthy habitats across campus and invite engagement with nature.
Area tracked for improved habitat connectivity and quality (acres)
- Current Performance
- Future Targets
Global Context, Local Action
Global development patterns have led to the conversion of more than half of the planet’s natural habitats, with similar patterns occurring in New Jersey, more so than any other coastal state.1,2 Forested habitats have become fragmented, compromising the ecosystem functions of the remaining patches, limiting the movement of species and hampering biodiversity.3 Research has also demonstrated inequalities in access to green space, with disparities by income, education and race.4
Recognizing the value of healthy habitats for human well-being and biodiversity, especially as development pressures increase, Princeton has taken a campus-wide ecosystem approach to landscape management by expanding woodland and native meadow plantings and renewing more natural rainwater and stream flows in the landscape. The University’s greenspace offers an unparalleled community amenity, open to all.
Short and Long Term Objectives
As the Princeton campus grows, we are deepening our focus on cultivating healthy habitats that are integrated into the experiential fabric of the campus and more resilient to climate change disruption. We will start with a focus on the connectivity and quality of forested habitats on campus in the context of state-wide connectivity efforts that promote the movement of wildlife across the landscape as they seek shelter, food, mates and other resources. We expect to develop this approach to include other habitat types over time.
Princeton’s Progress To Date
Over the past decade, Princeton has followed an ecosystem approach to landscape management. Our practices have focused on protecting soils and restoring ecological function, reducing synthetic chemical use, encouraging stormwater to filter into the landscape, emphasizing native perennial plantings, and conserving water.
Since 2008, we have added or enhanced 12 acres of forested habitat by extending the Lake Carnegie woodlands onto campus along stream corridors. This has helped to improve ecological balance by connecting fragmented natural areas. Integral to this effort was the restoration of meanders and pools to a portion of the degraded Washington Road stream, including removal of invasive species. While we have reduced pesticides used in landscape management by 27 percent since 2008, contributing to improved water quality and human health, there was an uptick in usage in the past year resulting from operational changes imposed due to COVID-19.
Campus Action Items
- Build in a more compact manner and engage in habitat preservation, restoration and enhancement, while integrating other land-use priorities (stormwater management, recreation, etc.).
- Invite engagement with nature and the outdoors through building and landscape design strategies, communications during key orientation programs, and coordination with various campus health and wellness programs.
- Develop and implement a forest stewardship plan.
- Continue to develop and refine the Princeton Index for Land-use and Ecological Assessment (PILEA) habitat quality assessment tool.
- Continue to develop and implement an integrative pest management plan across campus.
- Advance evidence-based sustainable habitat and landscape management solutions by actively encouraging students, faculty and staff to develop studies and recommendations as well as rigorous tracking and assessment tools.
- Scale action beyond Princeton through information-sharing and collaboration with, for example, organizations including the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) program.