"With the graduation tree, there is something on campus for every student to return to"

How can we increase biodiversity on Utrecht Science Park? With this challenge in mind, students Ay Ling Thung (Green Office) and Tamara Luiken (Lijst VUUR) initiated the Utrecht Student Tree Fund. Also, from this year onwards, every generation of UU graduates will get their own tree with a bench in the Botanical Gardens.  

Ay Ling: "For my work at the Green Office, I was looking for ways to increase biodiversity on campus. I heard that Avans University of Applied Sciences gives each graduating student a tree as a gift. I immediately thought this was a fantastic idea: by planting a tree, students can really leave something behind on campus. I also like the symbolism: just like a tree, you grow further after completing your studies."    

Student Ay Ling is one of the initiators of the Tree Fund.
Ay Ling is one of the initiators of the Tree Fund.

But that was easier said than done, because where can you plant 9,500 trees every year? Talking to the Sustainability Office and the Alumni Office, Ay Ling and Tamara quickly came up with the idea of a tree for each new generation of graduating students and a tree fund.     

Graduation gift   

Starting this year, each new generation of students will collectively receive one tree as a graduation gift. Each tree will have a wooden bench with the graduation year on it. In the next few years, the trees will be planted in the Botanical Gardens. Tamara: "The Botanical Gardens team was already planning to plant new trees. With our initiative, we can help invest in trees of good quality. Think of an oak that can last a hundred years." Ay Ling and Tamara hope to plant the first tree this spring.

Ay Ling: "With the graduation tree, there is something for every student to return to on campus. Later, you can visit the tree with your children or grandchildren to tell the story of your student life. Lovely for Dutch students, but also - or especially - for international students."  

Utrecht Student Tree Fund  

Planting a tree every year mainly has an important symbolic value. But to make an impact for biodiversity, Ay Ling and Tamara looked for more scale. That is why they initiated the Utrecht Student Tree Fund. In this fund, students, staff and alumni can deposit money to support projects that promote biodiversity. The price of planting and maintaining one tree is estimated at 19 euros. For that amount, you can (symbolically) donate a tree. You can also donate half a tree, several trees or an amount to your choosing.   

Lijst VUUR, the Alumni Office and the Sustainability Office will also organise activities under the banner of the tree fund to create awareness about biodiversity. Examples are a cooking course in nature or a master class.   

Ay Ling: "I hope that all students, staff and alumni donate a tree to the tree fund, so that we can help plant forests where it is needed. That could be in Utrecht, but also abroad. That's how we make the world greener and more climate-friendly."