Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.06
Liaison Andrea Trimble
Submission Date May 29, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University of Virginia
OP-11: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Julia Monteith
Senior Land Use Planner
Office of the Architect
"---" 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 any legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance on institution owned or managed land:

UVa shares a listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Monticello - the only campus in the United States with this designation. The UVa portion of the site is Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village - which forms the center of the UVa Grounds 1,135 acre-campus.

The UVA Foundation (UVAF) has a property adjacent to the campus (The Grounds) - historically called Foxhaven Farm that has an 86-acre conservation easement managed by UVAF.

The UVa Grounds have two priority sites for biodiversity established through our 2007 Biodiversity Analysis: Jefferson Mountain at 275-acres and the North Grounds Forest at 75 acres, which are largely maintained as natural green space. Jefferson Mountain is an established UVa research site for forest diversity enhancement.

Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify endangered and vulnerable 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 methodology(-ies) used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or environmentally sensitive areas and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

University of Virginia (UVa) selected NatureServe to assemble existing and new information to create a comprehensive biodiversity analysis of lands owned by UVa and the University of Virginia Foundation (UVaF). This biodiversity analysis was developed to inform the UVA campus planning process. As part of this project, NatureServe provided:

1) This final report summarizing “conservation values” throughout the UVa and UVaF properties, suggesting conservation goals for future planning, and establishing example scenarios that examine how alternative future land use plans affect the ability to realize conservation goals.
2) A conservation planning tool (NatureServe Vista) for use as an ArcMap extension to develop “conservation value” summaries, modify landscape conservation goals, and create new conservation “scenarios” as new information is received.
3) Formal training of UVa staff on the NatureServe Vista application as well as ongoing software support services.

NatureServe engaged expert partners to compile all existing geospatial data pertaining to potential conservation targets on UVa and UVaF lands. In addition, NatureServe communicated with key academic, state government, and local government partners to collect new information about the status of stream quality and the potential presence and location of federally listed mussel species adjacent to UVa lands in the Rivanna River. Finally, the team imported all elements of potential conservation value into an ArcMap project, using NatureServe Vista.

NatureServe staff communicated with dozens of experts to collect existing information on the types and distributions of conservation elements (land cover, habitat fragment size, stream quality, rare and endangered species occurrence, indicator species occurrence, soil types, etc.) within the project area. They consulted with academics from the University of Virginia,, experts from state agencies including the Virginia Natural Heritage Program and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and private consultants including freshwater experts from Williamsburg Environmental Group.

The team also worked with survey and data collection groups to develop new data specific to this biodiversity analysis. The University of Virginia was particularly interested in watershed condition analyses to inform their campus planning process; as such NatureServe commissioned a watershed analysis along key stream reaches on University and the UVa property and worked with the Virginia Natural Heritage Program (part of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation) to survey the Rivanna River, focusing on rare aquatic elements such as rare mussel species.

Once the initial data gathering and organization was completed, NatureServe staff created a NatureServe Vista project to be used for the current quantitative conservation analysis and for continual future use. For this project, Natureserve chose the most important available geospatial data layers and assigned a weighting for conservation value and data confidence to each layer based on its relative importance to conservation. This process assists in quantifying the overall conservation value throughout the landscape. In addition, the team established introductory conservation goals for each element of conservation importance to examine whether conservation goals would be reached under the alternative land use scenarios to be determined by UVa. This included four analyses of conservation value and one analysis of potential land use effect on biodiversity to better understand the biodiversity conservation issues facing UVa lands.

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

Key Finding 1: According to an analysis of data with the developed weighting system, the most important areas of UVA and UVAF owned lands for biodiversity value are along the Rivanna River in the North Fork tract, along certain existing stream corridors throughout the entire study area, and in the Milton Field land owned by UVA.
Key Finding 2:Upland tracts located in or near developed areas, and away from streams, possess relatively low biodiversity values according to our analysis.
The James Spinymussel data is species observation data. The original observation of this record was in 1998 and was updated in 2005.
The Atlantic Pigtoe Mussel data is species observation data. The occurrence was documented in 1981.

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

The University has used several recent stormwater management projects to create wildlife habitat, including stream restoration and stream daylighting to create aquatic wildlife habitat. Wildlife-edible plants and other native plant species are utilized, along with minimally-invasive landscaping practices, to create areas of habitat adjacent to riparian features. Several stream restorations project have implemented strategies to reduce erosion and recreate riffles and pools to create aquatic habitat.
UVa has developed a Natural Systems Plan to prioritize natural areas and support tree diversity, tree canopy enhancement, stormwater quality and quantity reductions.

The website URL where information about the institution’s biodiversity policies and programs(s) is available:
Data source(s) and notes about 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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.