An exciting ‘Plant a Planet’ project is underway at the Edmund Rice Secondary School with students from 1st, 2nd, and 5th year working together to source and sell young trees to plant to at least 10% of the school community. The Irish School Sustainability Network (ISSN), a group of schools who got together to do something constructive towards addressing climate change and environmental issues, initially founded this project. Students from the 4 schools involved in this project meet online once a month and students Kyle Dowley, (5th year) and Zach O’Keeffe (2nd Year) represent Edmund Rice Secondary School in Carrick-on-Suir.

The students are liaising with a local nursery, Orchardstown Nursery in Kilmeaden, who supply different species of trees to suit most gardens at a cost of €2 to €5 each and who will deliver batches of the saplings to the school on demand. Parents can order trees online or students can buy them at designated times on Wednesday and Friday mornings in the school. The trees can also be bought and donated to the school and will be then planted in the grounds.

This ‘Plant a Planet’ project has been hugely successful and the schools committee, students and teachers involved in promoting and organizing it are delighted with the response, saying they have already exceeded the 10% target base. The team is united and driven to raise awareness of the precious and essential role of trees in the protection and sustainability of the global environment to include oxygen production, carbon storing, reducing water run off preventing flash flooding and soil erosion, their provision of shade in hot climates, acting as windbreaks and indeed providing shelter and food for many wildlife species.

The students at ERSS in Carrick-on-Suir have a wonderful insight into the effects and causes of climate change in the world today and are acutely aware of the devastating knock-on effects globally caused by the widespread deforestation of the Amazon. In their efforts to promote the planting of trees locally they have printed out a list of trees for sale with photos which include Amelanchier, Spindle, Hazel, Birch, Alder, Crab Apple and Rowan/Mountain Ash, the height they will grow to, the size of gardens they are suited to and details of their value for wildlife.

TY students have also made a video available on the school website, on how to plant and sustain the trees. Posters have been designed and painted by several students in art classes and they have been put up around the school and in local retail outlets promoting the sale of the trees and raising awareness of what they contribute to our environment. Students Zach and Kyle have also been aired on WLRFM talking about the project and the benefits of trees. The group plans to submit the ‘Plant a Planet’ project to the Young Environmentalist Award and will be organizing a Green Day and a bake sale in the school shortly with all funds raised going towards the green school project.

From left: Gillian Wheatley, teacher; Rahool Khokhar, 1st year; Luke Dinan, 1st year; Zach O’Keeffe, 2nd year; Cian Sievewright, 1st year; and teacher Siobhan Moylan.