Staff and students at Wiltshire College & University Centre’s Lackham campus have shown their awareness and support for environmental sustainability issues through a number of avenues recently.
Lackham is the College’s dedicated campus for land-based courses, and staff and students have been supporting an important sustainability project in the local community by helping out with hedge tree planting at Lacock Alpaca.
Lacock Alpaca is a small alpaca farm near the campus, situated just outside Melksham. The farm’s owners have joined forces with their neighbours in a joint initiative that will see 84 acres of land planted with more than 35,000 native trees and 22,000 hedge trees.
Students and staff were keen to get involved as the project will also aid the studies of students on Countryside Management courses. Their involvement has allowed students to complete comprehensive soil analysis and they have helped to plant more than 500 hedgerow plants so far.
College staff have also been getting their hands dirty and the Business Development Team visited the farm to help out as part of a team building exercise during a Staff Development Day in February.
Students have also been hearing about issues facing the environment courtesy of an expert guest talk from biological scientist Dr Tommaso Jucker.
Dr Jucker is a lecturer and senior research fellow at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol. He has published more than 50 papers in academic journals on science, nature and ecology, and studies the response of forest ecosystems to environmental change. His research group use large datasets, modelling and remote sensing to gauge what forests may look like in the future. His research also takes him to some of the most biodiverse places on the planet, including the forests of Borneo.
Dr Jucker delivered an informative and engaging talk to students studying the Foundation Degree (FdSc) Environmental Science and Sustainability course, with the focus of the talk to ask the fundamental question whether we can plant our way out of a climate crisis.
Dr Jucker discussed the role of tree planting globally as well as within the UK, highlighting the ability of tree planting to offset carbon and common problems facing tree planting schemes. He also emphasised the importance of appropriate tree species selection and location as well as ensuring stakeholder involvement in the overall success of planting projects.
After the talk there were lively discussions, with the debate strongly centred on the ability of the UK to reach 30,000 hectares of trees planted annually from 2025 as part of the UK government’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050.
Helen Roberts, Lecturer in Horticulture at Lackham and organiser of the event, said:
“We are very grateful for Dr Jucker for giving up his time to visit our students this week. Everyone who attended found it incredibly enlightening, with students well aware of the role they have to play in supporting sustainability issues.
“Dr Jucker truly is an expert in his field and delivered an extremely insightful talk on a range of topics that students on the College’s Foundation Degree (FdSc) Environmental Science and Sustainability course have been exploring this year. I have no doubt that hearing what Dr Jucker had to say will be of invaluable benefit as they work towards the conclusion of their programme this year as well as their future careers.”
The College runs a range of science courses at post-16 and university level, including a new T Level in Health and Science: Laboratory Sciences at the Salisbury and Lackham campuses, starting this September. For more information on the College’s science courses, visit www.wiltshire.ac.uk/our-departments/sciences.