Hail, rain and wind did not deter 90 first year students from the Mercy Secondary School from each planting a native tree in SETU West Campus recently.

The 13 native tree species of oak, ash, holly, yew, scot’s pine, rowan, whitethorn, birch, alder, willow, crab apple, hazel and elder represented each student’s birth month, according to the ancient Ogham calendar. 

This environmental project was the brainchild of Ms Trish Dunphy, teacher in the Mercy, and Maoliosa Ni Chleirigh, volunteer with Waterford Trees for Life. Waterford Trees for Life is an environmental initiative of Waterford Lions Club, which aims to plant native trees throughout the city and county, particularly in primary and secondary schools.  

The scale of this project exceeded the available space at the Mercy, so the group teamed up with Tom Kent, programme leader of the BSc in Forestry and David Grant, SETU Arena to find a suitable site in Carriganore. ABP Waterford Ltd kindly provided sponsorship.  

Despite the weather all the trees were planted, and bark mulch was applied to keep the trees weed-free while they get established. The Mercy students and their teachers were ably supported by a diverse group of helpers, including first year forestry students from SETU, Lions Club volunteers and a group from ABP led by Graham Butler. 

In recognition of their environmental effort, the students each received an environmental certificate from Green MEP, Grace O’Sullivan at a ceremony at the Mercy celebrating the importance of native trees and forests in biodiversity and carbon capture.