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Biodiversity and urban agriculture

Concordia is dedicated to enhancing the biodiversity and urban agriculture on its campuses through innovative projects and educational initiatives that promote a thriving ecosystem.

What is biodiversity?

More than simply a collection of plants and animals, biodiversity is about promoting healthy conditions for organisms to thrive. It includes everything from the tiniest insects to towering trees, and it’s crucial for keeping ecosystems healthy.

Concordia students, faculty and staff are passionate about looking at how urban green spaces — like parks, backyards and community gardens — boost biodiversity in the city. Our university community blends science with community action to protect, enhance and celebrate the incredible diversity of life in and around Montreal.

Biodiversity initiatives on campus

Reduced mowing areas

To support declining insect populations — particularly local pollinators — Concordia has implemented a reduced mowing schedule for parts of the Loyola Campus. The plan prioritizes a reduction in mowing of areas with difficult slopes or very little foot traffic.

The aim of this new approach to lawn management is to encourage indigenous and locally adapted plants to thrive, as well as increase the biodiversity and climatic resilience of the Loyola Campus.

Affected areas will continue to have its edges mown regularly to reassure passersby that the green space is still being cared for by the university's grounds management team. Signage explaining the benefits of the reduced mowing schedule will also be visible.

What about allergies?

The most common flowering plants found in reduced mowing areas are dandelions, clovers and violets. All of these species produce heavy pollen grains that do not travel on the wind readily.

Any pollen that travels on the wind remains close to the ground and is unlikely to affect individuals who suffer from pollen allergies. Dandelion “fluff” that does travel on the wind is the seed, not an allergen.

Because dandelions flower at the same time as trees produce airborne pollen, people may confuse the source of their allergies. While many believe the flowering of the dandelion is the root cause, the true allergen is more discrete tree flower pollen.

Native trees

Concordia is home to an urban forest. Between the university's two campuses, more than 1,000 trees provide numerous benefits that improve human health such as:

  • Reducing hot summer temperatures.
  • Improving local air quality.
  • Promoting mental wellbeing.

To maintain the health and resilience of Concordia's urban forest, the university ensures there is a diverse number of species — particularly native ones — present on its campuses.

Recently, 185 native trees were planted on the Loyola Campus. Visitors can find the native tree stands in clusters on the southern end of the athletics field, in front of the Communications and Journalism (CJ) Building and behind the Jesuit Residence (JR).

As the tree stands mature, they will provide much-needed habitat for local wildlife, as well as research opportunities for students and faculty.

Photo: Julian Haber

Urban agriculture on campus

Student- and community-run campus gardens provide a number of advantages to the university community, including:

  • Greatly increasing the university's floral diversity.
  • Creating beneficial habitats for other living organisms.
  • Providing space for recreation activities.
  • Serving as outdoor lab spaces for biology and ecology students and researchers.
  • Increasing storm water retention on campus grounds.

The produce harvested from the gardens is redirected mostly to campus food groups, sold at on-campus markets or donated to emergency food options. Anyone interested in tasting campus-grown herbs and vegetables can also visit seasonal farmers' markets on both campuses.

The gardens also serve as sites to build community food literacy and sovereignty by teaching growing and cooking skills.


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