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OU celebrates postgraduate research students by planting trees

Macadamia Nursery

The Open University (OU) is planting trees in Bedfordshire and Malawi to celebrate its postgraduate research students.

In partnership with the Forest of Marston Vale Trust and Neno Macadamia Trust, the University will celebrate the graduation of all PhD and Professional Doctorate students each year up to October 2023.

Director of the OU Graduate School, Dr Lindsay O’Dell said: “Each of our postgraduate research students will be allocated a tree either in the Forest of Marston Vale or in Malawi, which will be dedicated to them and their careers.”

The first 100 trees have now been planted in the Forest of Marston Vale, which has a core target of increasing tree cover in the 156 square kilometres forest area to 30%, to make life better for people, wildlife, and the planet. The first 100 macadamia trees have also been grafted in a cooperative nursery and were planted by farmers in the Neno district of Malawi.

Fundraising Officer for the Forest of Marston Vale, Robina Ballard-Davis said: “We’re delighted that the OU has chosen to support tree planting locally in the Forest of Marston Vale and in Malawi with Neno Macadamia Trust. Both charities deliver real social and economic benefits to their local communities through the trees that are planted, as well as the obvious benefits to the global environment.”

An OU team of researchers led by Professor David Gowing in the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics also plans to measure the soil’s carbon content as the trees grow on both sites to see how much is being stored.

Chair of the Neno Macadamia Trust, Andrew Emmott said: “We are also thrilled to partner with the OU and the Forest of Marston Vale to support tree planting with farmers who are members of the Highlands Macadamia Cooperative in in Malawi. This initiative by the OU is very much in keeping with Neno Macadamia Trust’s mission to develop macadamia agroforestry to support smallholder communities in Malawi become more resilient to climate shocks. As a Bedford-based charity we are pleased to find common ground with the Forest of Marston Vale as we both seek to deliver social and economic benefits to the communities we serve through the planting of trees and to create wider global benefits for the environment.”

On Earth Day, the OU is celebrating the work of OU PhD student, Emmanuel Zuza, who is gathering data about the trees in Malawi and that of Kate Hand, who is working on how to measure the benefits we get from trees.

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