Students have planted some of the 1,000 trees which De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) donated to the National Forest at the start of the academic year.
On behalf of students joining the university this year, DMU agreed to fund the planting of hundreds of new trees in the forest, which stretches from the outskirts of Leicester to Burton-Upon-Trent, in East Staffordshire.
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And as planting season begins this year, a group of students from DMU travelled to a National Forest site just outside Ashby, less than 20 miles from campus, to plant a selection of new oak trees.
Genna Pugh, a third year History student, said: “It’s been really nice to get out of uni and into the forest, out of the city centre where it’s quite polluted. I’ve loved planting trees and doing something good for the environment.
“It didn’t take long to actually plant but the important thing is that it will really make a difference to the forest in the grand scheme of things.”
Taking a tree each, the students grabbed a spade and dug a small hole in the ground, sitting the sapling in this and then filling in the soil, supporting the newly-planted tree with a cane.
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They were then taken by National Forest staff to a small nearby copse to see what their trees might look like in 15 years’ time.
The initiative is the first project in a new partnership between DMU and the National Forest, which began in 1991 and will soon celebrate planting its nine millionth tree.
The partnership aims to engage students in environmental issues, create sustainability research opportunities for academic staff and develop volunteering and learning opportunities around the forest.
Studies have shown that in one year, 1,000 trees can produce enough oxygen for around 4,000 people and absorb about 48,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air we breathe.
A recent analysis by Swiss university ETH Zurich found that tree planting was “overwhelmingly more powerful than all other climate change solutions proposed.”
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Louise Driver, director of operations at the National Forest, said: “It is particularly good to be working with De Montfort University, which is putting sustainability at the top of its agenda in their research, in their campus activities, in engaging students but also in their organisational practices.
“Planting a tree really does provide an opportunity for students that haven’t spent a lot of time outside of the places they are studying in to come out and really connect with the natural environment.
“Not just to learn about the importance of the natural environment in terms of improving air quality, carbon sequestration and looking after our biodiversity but also what it offers to them in terms of supporting their wellbeing.”
DMU is committed to supporting the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals – global aims which address problems like climate change, poverty and equality.
The remaining planting will be carried out by National Forest experts during the planting season, which runs until March.
Posted on Wednesday 20th November 2019