Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 86.09
Liaison Jennifer Andrews
Submission Date Aug. 16, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of New Hampshire
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Stephen Eisenhaure
Land Use Coordinator
COLSA Dean's Office
"---" 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, 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:

UNH holds three land areas that are classified as “natural areas” with the State of New Hampshire: the College Woods Natural Area (64 acres), the MacDonald Natural Area (13 acres), and Squam Lake Natural Area (206 acres). In addition, the university owns several other tracts of woodlands throughout the state of New Hampshire that are carefully managed but are not legally protected. These are all overseen by the Office of Woodlands and Natural Areas. Recognizing their duty of stewardship and to set an example to others of properly managed woodlands and natural areas, the Office of Woodlands and Natural areas achieves management objectives while observing the following tenets: support ecosystem integrity, support biological diversity, support sustainable forest utilization, protect the productivity of the resources in their care, provide educational, research and recreational opportunities.

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

A list of endangered and vulnerable species with habitats on land owned or managed by the institution, by level of extinction risk:

See the "Species of Greatest Concern" attachment below. It includes wildlife species of state concern and plants and one community of special significance. There are a number of other plants and communities that are also exemplary or important but not listed in the enclosed document. Additionally, NHB reports (see below for clarification) also list species nearby that may utilize the property.

UNH has also identified native plant species that it is working to reintroduce (e.g., the American Chestnut) as well as invasive species that threaten native threatened and endangered species (e.g., Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, glossy buckthorn).

Although it is important to identify individual species, what we find most relevant is the continuous review of our properties in the context of local lands and beyond, and that we have a process in place to take appropriate action to manage these species as things change.

Has the institution conducted an assessment to identify areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution?:

A brief description of areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution:

Our institution has several layers of review in place to help identify areas of biodiversity importance. Since this review is ongoing, we are prepared to address things as they change, including those things that will likely be the result of events linked to climate change.

Vulnerable habitats include early successional and old field habitat, which are important for vulnerable species include the New England Cottontail, as well as numerous species of native bees.

The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or areas of biodiversity importance and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

There is a continuous process in place for monitoring the relative rarity and importance of the habitats and related wildlife species on UNH properties. The basis of this process is a review by the NH Natural Heritage Bureau (NHB), who checks their database for occurrences that are exemplary (ie. ecologically important) or relatively rare on or nearby a property. This process is undertaken in three different instances:

1) 19 of the 22 woodland properties have permanent continuous forest inventory or "CFI" systems. CFI plots are permanent sample points that are re-inventoried on a set cycle to gather forest growth data and other information about forests. That information allows us to identify the presence (or absence) of vulnerable or endangered plant species. That data, combined with topographical and historical information, is also used to identify the possible presence of endangered or vulnerable animal species--which possibility is then confirmed through field observations by staff and faculty working in these spaces.
During the inventory we note plants and communities that are unique to the property and identify any threats, like disease or invasive plant or pest threat. This information provides information to update management plans; at this time an NHB report is requested.
2) During the ten -ear time period any project that aims to alter the vegetation (eg. Timber Harvest) requires a check of the NHB system.
3) The woodland network is enrolled in the Tree Farm system that is reviewed every 6 years. Tree Farm requires a similar report that requests the identification of unique plant communities.

The results of these process is summarized in the attached report. Enclosed are wildlife species of state concern and plants and one community of special significance. There are a number of other plants and communities that are also exemplary or important but not listed in the enclosed document. Additionally, NHB reports also list species nearby that may utilize the property.

A brief description of the scope of the assessment(s):

Starting in 2006 a permanent CFI grid including over 1000 individual sample points was installed on 18 of the 21UNH Woodland properties; these properties are mostly those clustered around the UNH Durham campus. Each plot records baseline information about the trees and other vegetation surrounding the plot. This allows our students and researchers to have real current and historical data regarding the outdoor classrooms that they regularly use. This will be the start of a historical record of land use and forest growth on University Woodlands.

Properties within the CFI network include MacDonald (2006), Kingman Farm (2007), Jones Lot (2008), Saddleback Mountain (2009), College Woods (2010), Squam Lake (2010), Mendum's pond (2011), the Horticulture Farm (2012), Thompson Farm (2013), East and West Foss Farm (2014), Moore Fields (2014) Davis Park (2014), Dudley Lot (2015) and Burley-Demeritt Farm (2015), Lord Farm (2016) and Burnham Lot (2016), and Madison Lot (2019).

UNH properties not currently in the CFI network (currently three properties, and a portion of a fourth) are assessed by professional foresters and biologists who are part of UNH's staff and faculty, under the leadership and direction of UNH Land Use Coordinator Steve Eisenhaure.
These properties should be added over the next several years,

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

Each woodland and natural area at UNH is subject to a management plan, developed based on the regular 10-year assessment that is conducted for each woodland/natural area. See:
https://unh.app.box.com/s/hl7qvv6g8qe8jm6snc0ks1b5eftq57fk or https://unh.app.box.com/v/woodlands-kingman-mp for two such sample management plans (for two of UNH's largest natural areas, College Woods and Kingman Farm). All of the management plans can be reviewed on the Woodlands website: https://colsa.unh.edu/woodlands

A couple of specific programs are detailed below:

New England Cottontail/Early Successional Habitat & Young Forest Project - The goal of this project is to create and maintain early successional and old field habitat components on UNH’s Horticulture Farm, Thompson, East and West Foss Farms and beyond. This will be accomplished through a series of mechanical treatments including brush mowing with a brontosaurus mower or similar machine, whole tree harvesting and conventional timber harvest methods. The project will specifically target those species that are associated with old fields, shrubland and early successional growth. Future maintenance of these areas will be accomplished through mowing, clearing with handheld power saws and prescribed fire. This habitat benefits a wide range of wildlife species but is intended to target the New England Cottontail, a threatened species. Ongoing harvesting by the Thompson School logging class (completed 2019) at Horticulture farm aims to increase the size of a large opening at the Horticulture farm. Other recent efforts (2013-2015) towards this project included additional harvesting on East and West Foss Farms, brontosaurus type mowing on Horticulture farm and allowing portions of Kingman Farm to regenerate to a shrubby condition.

Horticulture Farm Insectary - In partnership with the State of NH Forest Health Office a three acre block within the Forestry Demonstration area has been devoted to the insectary. We intend to grow a population of Laricobius beetle, a natural predator of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, which is a non-native pest of Eastern hemlock trees. This two-year project, if successful, will provide populations of beetles to be distributed throughout the region.

Kingman Farm Chestnut Plantation - In the winter of 2015-2016, student employees of the UNH Woodlands Office helped to clear one acre to establish UNH’s first American Chestnut plantation. 350 seedlings were then planted by UNH students. This planting will be a test for future forest-to-chestnut conversion projects and serve as material for research, educational and outreach purposes.

Six different properties have populations of ash trees that are being injected to save them as small reserves as a response to the Emerald Ash Borer infestation. Given that EAB results in near 100% mortality, it is our hope that these small populations will provide a future for ash in our state.

An important population of 250+ year old hemlock trees in the College Woods property are threatened by hemlock woolly adelgid and hemlock elongate scale, two non-native pests that can kill hemlock trees. Again, a small sample of hemlock trees are being treated to serve as a means to regenerate this species so we can maintain a range of hemlock age classes in this important ecological resource.

There is an active timber harvesting program on UNH woodland properties. By carefully managing these properties we ensure that there are healthy trees in the widest range of age classes and species. This diversity is directly related to increased vigor and variety of wildlife and therefore greatest overall ecosystem productivity and health.

In addition to these specific program examples, the UNH Ecosystem Task Force (EcoTF, www.sustainableunh.unh.edu/ecotf) examines sustainability issues related to land use, development, and ecosystem management. The overarching goal of the EcoTF is parallel to that of the UNH Energy Task Force: to serve in an advisory capacity to the UNH President and be responsible for making recommendations on the full range of issues that relate to land use, landscaping, ecosystem health, biodiversity and development. In particular, the EcoTF is charged with:

- Developing a long-term plan for sustainable management of biodiversity and ecological integrity of UNH lands including the core Durham campus.

- Developing tools for assessing, evaluating and managing ecosystem function and services within the Oyster River and Lamprey River Watersheds including approaches to landscape design and management in support of the Campus Landscape Master Plan and in accord with knowledge and best practices of sustainable ecosystem management.

- Identifying mechanisms that support professional development opportunities for UNH faculty/staff to contribute to the goals of the EcoTF including related curriculum, research, operations and engagement activities.

Part of the EcoTF, the Office of Woodlands and Natural Areas (WNA) at UNH is responsible for managing wildlife habitat on UNH properties (viewable here: https://colsa.unh.edu/woodlands/properties) and participate in UNH's Ecosystem Task Force (http://sustainableunh.unh.edu/ecotf). The decisions of the WNA are deeply rooted in their guiding management principles:
* Support ecosystem integrity
* Support biological diversity
* Support sustainable forest utilization
* Protect the productivity of the resources in their care
* Provide educational, research, and recreational opportunities

Moreover, the WNA takes a diverse approach to management by seeking to:
* Provide a variety of stand vigor conditions
* Provide a variety of vegetation types
* Provide a variety of stand age classes
* Maintain an adequate forest road access and maintenance program
* Maintain a centralized research, recreational, and forest management record keeping system.
* Improve and maintain a variety of wildlife habitat
* Enhance compatible recreational opportunities
* Prevent watershed degradation
* Provide educational opportunities and assistance to students
* Interact with other organizations and individuals that need access to areas administered by the Woodlands and Natural Areas Committee

Estimated percentage of areas of biodiversity importance that are also protected areas :

Website URL where information about the institution’s biodiversity initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

See also https://www.unh.edu/sustainability/sustainability-institute/task-forces for information about the EcoSystem Task Force.

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.