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Plant today thinking about tomorrow

For the 5th consecutive year, “Plantar o Futuro” made the University of Aveiro greener and, on October 4th, challenged the academic community to adopt a native tree, care for it, and help create a forest.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes and 25 seconds

© João Simões, Helder Berenguer

In a world where climate change and environmental degradation have become an increasingly real threat, it is critical to act now to protect our planet and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come. Although the environmental challenge we currently face is complex, it is often through the simplest actions that we find the solution. As citizens of the world, each of us has a role to play in preserving the environment.

One of the most impactful and simple ways to contribute to a greener future is to plant a tree. Every tree we place on the earth is a symbol of hope, of commitment to restoring our ecosystems and a solid step towards a better world. The importance of forest restoration cannot be overstated. Well-chosen trees planted in the right places have the power to absorb a significant amount of carbon dioxide, contributing to climate change mitigation, fire resilience and biodiversity conservation. Furthermore, they provide many other “ecosystem services” that are often overlooked - they filter atmospheric pollutants, help pollinating insects by providing food, serve as shelter for birds and other animals, fix the soil, reducing erosion and flooding, filter water, provide shade, and much more.

On October 4th, in the time span of just three hours, we managed to mobilize 922 participants - students, teachers and staff from the University of Aveiro (UA) - to plant the future. A human involvement that demonstrates that, if given the tools and the opportunity, young people are willing to truly help the planet - to volunteer for nature! A participation that exceeds last year's numbers (883 adopters) and that would not have been possible without the partnerships with Faina Académica and the UA  Academic Association that helped to “spread the word” and mobilize hundreds of participants for the project, with Biology, Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Sciences courses leading the table. But the adopters were not just students - teachers, staff, researchers and, this year, people outside the UA, also accepted the challenge of caring for a tree for four months.

In total, 930 native trees were “adopted”, 50 more than last year. This year we had for adoption the oak (Quercus robur), the project's mascot, the incredible cork oak (Quercus suber), the fearless strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) and the brave laurel tree (Laurus nobilis). They are the true champions of the restoration of the native Portuguese forest and the defenders of biodiversity who make the forest their home.

Helping us on this important day, transporting and delivering the trees, answering questions to participants and much more, we had the Comissão de Faina de Biologia and the Biology Student Center-AUAv. These were joined by volunteers from  SEEDS Iceland, the Icelandic association with which we are developing F.O.R.E.S.T. - Foster Environmental Strategies for Change, a project supported by the European Union's  Erasmus+ Program through Key Action 2: Small Partnerships. A team of almost 40 people, united by a common goal, to make this project a reality.

The truth is that we cannot underestimate the impact that our individual choices have on the planet. It is our responsibility to act now to ensure that future generations inherit a sustainable and prosperous world. Once again, “if each of us plants a tree, one day we will have a forest”.

Plantar o Futuro is organized by Agora Aveiro in collaboration with the  University of Aveiro and the Municipality of Estarreja. It has Glicínias Plaza as “Main Partner”, RODI Industries, MacroMakers and Caetano Auto as “Golden Partners” and SIRO - Substratos Profissionals, Casa Martelo  and  Cesta Cheia as “Silver Partners”. It is carried out in partnership with the Comissão de Faina de Biologia, the Department of Biology of the University of Aveiro, the Biology Students Association, Faina Académica and Exodus Aveiro Fest. It also has the support of the Municipality of Aveiro, the "Voluntariado Jovem para a Natureza e Florestas" Program and the Portuguese Institute for Sports and Youth - IPD, I.P..

Inês Nunes