USM supports biodiversity conservation through aggressive stormwater management, through integrated pest management, and by actively working to restore native plant species on campus, which in turn support native pollinators, birds and other wildlife. Photo credit for the image above belongs to Benjamin Alcorn.
Caring for the ecosystem requires monitoring, given the high rate of change we are currently experiencing. The Office of Sustainability monitors flora on campus, examining the health of native species and the presence of invasives. The Environmental Science and Policy academic program monitors the health of certain natural areas on campus, such as the Hemlock Forest on the Gorham campus. Facilities Management and the Office of Sustainability work together to monitor and educate about stormwater impacts on the Portland and Gorham campuses. To learn more about how stormwater affects the aquatic eco-system, to participate in outreach, or to report a storm water issue on campus, click here.
The Office of Sustainability, the Eco-reps, and the Grounds Department have teamed up to carefully design, plan and install native, pollinator gardens on campus. So far, these gardens host 18 different rare or threatened native plant species with plans for many more. In addition to supporting flora diversity and benefitting pollinators, these spaces are designed to serve as peaceful, mental health respites for students, staff or faculty.
In an effort to support outdoor enjoyment of campus and practice the principle of working landscapes, students can find numerous edible trees, shrubs and plants throughout campus, including, but not limited to, blueberries, aronia, service berries, cherries, apples, strawberries and rhubarb. Additionally, two special projects highlight this principle, an apple orchard and a food forest.
In the 2010s, the Office of Sustainability re-planted an historic apple orchard on the Gorham campus, down the hill from Robie Andrews Hall.
Around the same time, the Office of Sustainability built a permaculture forest on the Portland campus, between Payson-Smith and Luther Bonney Halls. Not all plants and trees in the Forest are edible, but the community is encouraged to study what is there and take fruits that they can use.