Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 45.37
Liaison Angie Kim
Submission Date Oct. 31, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Purchase College - State University of New York
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Angie Kim
Sustainability Coordinator
Facilities Management
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution own or manage land that includes or is adjacent to legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance?:

A brief description of the legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance:

Blind Brook waterway surrounding the college feeds directly into the Long Island Sound which is a major watershed protected by Westchester County.

Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify endangered and vulnerable species (including migratory species) with habitats on institution-owned or –managed land?:

Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify environmentally sensitive areas on institution-owned or –managed land?:

The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or environmentally sensitive areas (including most recent year assessed) and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

In 2018 an upper level Environmental Studies course, Conservation Biology, identified the major threats to biodiversity on our college campus as well as the areas that would have the most impact. They used research methods and additional field work observations.

A brief description of identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:

Habitat destruction
Our campus is home to 90-100 year old secondary growth forest habitat. Development of new infrastructure (such as Wayback and the Senior Living Center) both removes some of this habitat and increases the amount of paved surfaces. These surfaces do not allow water to pass through and contributes to concerns about flooding and runoff into nearby brooks. Other factors negatively impacted by destruction include the destabilization of wildlife (bird, deer, rabbit) habitat.

Invasive plants
Invasive plants create a hostile environment for native wildlife, which is best adapted to local conditions. Invasives deplete resources for local plants and animals, which decreases biodiversity. Over time, without intervention, the invasive plants will take over the landscape to the detriment of established wildlife.

Habitat fragmentation
Fragmentation from paths and roads creates isolated habitat that leaves animals disconnected from resources. This can cause local decline of native species and overall biodiversity of the campus. Habitats opened and subject to consistent disturbance, or edge habitats, decrease the stability of ecosystems by giving invasive plants an opportunity to disperse and establish. This also allows more wind into forest areas, driving up tree mortality, erosion, and potential for flooding.

Local pollution
Car leaks and other local runoff reduce water quality of our campus streams, which has harmful effects on aquatic wildlife and contributes to downstream pollution. Litter is also a danger because it can be ingested by animals and cause them harm. Litter and construction debris takes away the value of our natural areas, including areas which are currently used for natural labs, subjects for Visual Arts students, and other education purposes. By reducing local pollution, we can drastically improve the health of our local ecosystems.

Regional and global pollution
Residential runoff, such as fertilizers, is a concern on the regional scale contributing to a dangerous increase of nutrients in the Long Island Sound. This increase in nutrients can result in harmful algae blooms. These blooms release a neurotoxin that can moves up the food chain and can affect our food and drinking water. These blooms also rid the water body of oxygen and light – affecting plants and fish.

Carbon emissions are a concern on the global scale. Carbon being released into the atmosphere contributes to global climate change. On campus, we contribute to global carbon emissions primarily through using electricity, heat, and air conditioning and from driving cars. This greenhouse gas results in rising temperatures, collapse of marine ecosystems and affects overall biodiversity. On the local scale, these effects can be felt in extreme weather events, such as flooding and forest fires.

A brief description of plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:

The Sustainability Office and Facilities Management hope to work with a student as a research project to create a Land Management and Conservation plan to address the protection of the sensitive areas on campus, especially when it comes to future development.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.