The purpose of this project is to enable the University to offset its travel related carbon emissions by planting sufficient numbers of trees to take up the carbon emitted by University related travel. The March 2018 phase of the project was a ‘proof of concept’ stage to assess practicality. It is planned to gradually expand the project in future years until annual tree planting is sufficient to offset total university travel related carbon emissions.
Supported by Dr Andrew Jarvis (Lancaster Environment Centre), the project was first proposed by a group of students. Through 2017, stakeholders from Facilities, Lancaster Environment Centre and Lancaster University Students’ Union turned the proposal into a project ‘proof of concept’ that was launched during Green Lancaster week. The project was managed and implemented by Green Lancaster.
A 0.5-hectare open bank of grassland at the University’s Forrest Hills site was chosen for the planting project. Representatives from Lancaster Environment Centre, Facilities, the Students’ Union, University Senior Management, the Woodland Trust and Vice Chancellor Mark E. Smith attended the project launch on the Monday and got stuck in planting a mix of tree species. It was great to see everyone getting involved and despite the wet weather, over 1000 trees were planted!
As the week progressed, various Lancaster University and wider community stakeholders assisted with the tree planting with over 150 volunteers taking part over the four days. Volunteers ranged from students and staff on the Students’ Union Edible Campus project to Lancaster Environment Centre module students. Ten students visiting from Sunway University in Malaysia also got involved over the course of the week, as did forty geography pupils from Ripley St. Thomas Academy in Lancaster.
The project has been developed in partnership with the Woodland Trust (North West Team) with the chosen tree species mix including Oak, Rowan, Alder, Silver Birch, Dogwood, Willow, Hazel and Hawthorn.
The University is exploring the expansion of native woodland planting on the Forrest Hills site with a view to enhance biodiversity on the site and help to reduce surface water runoff.
Jonathan Mills, Carbon, Environment & Sustainability Manager said, “This is a fantastic project, that will ultimately enable the University to mitigate its travel related carbon emissions, and will potentially provide a wide range of other environmental benefits including flood risk reduction and improving biodiversity. The project also generates excellent research opportunities and demonstrates the local community that the University is endeavouring to help address local flood risk issues”.