Renewable energy, environmentally friendly practices, and promoting sustainability
The Green University
The University of Bergen is a “Green University”, with its own environmental strategy and action plan and certification as an “environmental lighthouse” and an environmental management system certified under the Eco-Lighthouse (Miljøfyrtårn) certification scheme. The overall goal is stopping climate change (UN Sustainability Goal # 13): UiB will systematically lower greenhouse gas emissions and become climate neutral by 2050, to help the world reach the 1.5-degree target in the Paris Agreement (Norwegian only). The University Gardens are an integral part of this strategy.
Phasing out fossil fuels
We use electric vehicles (except the tractors, for which we do not have a good enough electric substitute) and are currently phasing out all other fossil fuel driven machinery and tools. Following a feasibility study in the summer of 2019, we have calculated that one electric robot mower can replace a full day’s use of a diesel driven lawnmower per year. There are currently 2 robot mowers in use in the gardens and we have identified 12 additional sites where they can be introduced. Already almost half of grass trimmers and leaf blowers are electric. We have two modern charging stations for electric cars at our parking place and a pool of bicycles for use by the staff.
Environmentally friendly practices
To save water in the Botanical Garden, we have introduced an efficient centrally managed irrigation system with sprinklers for the Alpine garden, and the water for our artificial stream and waterfall is recirculated. Following the “Environment Action Plan 2018-2022” we have eliminated herbicide use. We tested heat weeding in the summer of 2018 in partnership with a private company, Wikholm AS, and now use a machine from Heat Weed Technology, which has proved cost-effective and efficient as well as environmentally friendly. We use biological pest control in our production greenhouses, such as Australian ladybird larvae against wool lice. We make compost in the Museum Garden and allow organic waste to decompose naturally into the existing soil substrate in the Arboretum. Other waste is sorted for recycling.
We estimate that we have more than 100,000 visitors per year, and many of them come to our regular events. We organize around 25 themed events each year in the gardens, all to an extent related to sustainability and aimed to inform and bring the audience closer to nature and the plant world. We demonstrate responsible management of our natural vegetation by using mowing practices that promote flowering for pollinating insects. We have demonstration beds for beekeeping plants, and a bee-hotel and viewing cubes. The gardens and expertise here are often used by the broadcast media which focus on flowers and bees. The following are recent examples from Norwegian radio: opptur June 2019, opptur July 2019, and TV: ut i naturen 2017 (at 18:22 you can see our gardener with the bees).