Our Malibu campus is located along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains, and contains a unique and diverse environment. In order to minimize our impact on that environment, Pepperdine has made a commitment to maintaining vegetation native to California's Mediterranean climate. This eliminates the need for fertilizer, irrigation, and pesticides, while reducing air pollution, minimizing erosion, and improving water quality. Native vegetation has a superior carbon balance relative to exotic or non-native species, as it has no dormant season and removes atmospheric carbon year-round. Moreover, native vegetation is considered a valuable public resource due to its significant ecological value.
Drescher Graduate Campus Native Vegetation
The 50-acre Drescher Graduate Campus, completed in 2003, contained at least 50% native vegetation for landscaping. Soil and seeds collected on-site before the project began were used to replant the slopes. In an effort to blend the Graduate Campus with the surrounding environment, the surrounding slopes contain approximately 99% native vegetation with only a handful of non-native plants. KCAL news highlighted this development in a newscast entitled "In the Garden."
As part of Pepperdine's effort to maintain our environment, 500 acres out of the 830 that make up the Malibu Campus have been set aside for conservation. This provides a pristine natural environment complete with native vegetation and wildlife at no cost to the state.
All on-campus tree trimmings and most brush clearance debris is "chipped" and used to create pathways and for weed suppression. Any unused brush clearance debris is composted at Crown Disposal. Compost produced by Crown Disposal is then used in landscaping around campus in place of fertilizer. Of the Malibu campus that is actively managed by FMP, 20% is managed completely organically or without fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals. Non-native landscaping is irrigated with reclaimed water, thereby reducing the amount of potable water used on campus.
Sustainable Pest Management
The use of anti-coagulant rodenticides, commonly known as rat poison, has recently gained attention for its link to the death of native predatory animals. In particular, anti-coagulant rodenticides are known to bio-accumulate in larger animals that have consumed rodents that have ingested rodenticides.
Pepperdine recognized the negative effects of this common form of rodent control and took swift action to transition to a more sustainable method. Pepperdine's first step away from the harmful rodenticides was to employ to a poison-free pest management system. With the new methodology in place, Pepperdine effectively phased out the use of rodenticides on campus at the end of May 2014. In addition to these operational changes, Pepperdine is looking to predator bird species (raptors) to further control the rodent population through natural predation. The University is now developing plans to strategically install perches around campus, providing favorable positions from which these birds can hunt rodents.
In response to concerns surrounding consumer use of rodenticides, California passed a ban in March on direct-to-consumer sale of selected products, which took effect July 1, 2014. This ban restricts the sale of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), which are known to be dangerous and even fatal to children, wildlife, and pets. However, this ban does not prohibit exterminators and pest control companies from using SGARs, nor does it prohibit the sale of first-generation anti-coagulant rodenticides.
Environmental Volunteer Opportunities
The Pepperdine Volunteer Center hosts ongoing environmental volunteer opportunities to help support the native environment in our local area. Programs include work with organizations such as Heal the Bay and The Mountains Restoration Trust.
Chaparral Ecology Scholar
Pepperdine faculty member Dr. Stephen Davis is a renowned scholar in chaparral ecology, a drought and fire resistant evergreen shrub covering native to Mediterranean climates. He is working on post-fire recovery of native vegetation lost in and around Pepperdine's campus following the 2007 Malibu Canyon Fire. His work also yields vitally important information to the National Parks Department, regulatory agencies, and environmental organizations by providing insight into environmental preservation efforts. In 2008 he received the Robert Foster Cherry award for Great Teaching, the only national teaching award.
Dr. Davis is currently working with the National Parks Service and the Mountains Restoration Trust to examine chaparral post-fire recovery at both the Corral Canyon and Sherwood Lake fire sites, while collaborating with the National Science Foundation and the Catalina Island Conservancy on recovery following the Imperial Fire at Catalina Island.