Press release

Trees to celebrate graduates and offset environmental costs of research

Published on 23 June 2023

The University of Dundee will this month begin work on a new sustainability project that will ultimately create a forest celebrating its postgraduate researchers while offsetting carbon emissions.

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The University’s Doctoral Academy is launching the initiative that will see a tree planted for each of the 108 postgraduate researchers graduating at the University’s annual summer ceremonies this week, helping to repay nature for the energy used in research while engaging in a movement for sustainability.  

Additionally, 261 trees will be planted to celebrate every postgraduate researcher who has graduated since the founding of the Doctoral Academy in 2020, offsetting the impact of past research degrees while leaving a legacy intertwined with the Scottish Highlands.

The trees will be planted at the Dundreggan Rewilding Centre, eight miles from Loch Ness. Through partnership with the Trees for Life initiative, the saplings will foster the natural regeneration of the forest, providing a vital habitat for over 4,000 plant and animal species, including golden eagles and black grouses.

Collectively, they will enrich nature, empower the University’s research communities, and positively impact future generations by making mitigating climate change and promoting sustainability. 

Professor Iain Gillespie, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University, said, “This endeavour not only highlights our dedication to sustainability but also offers a tangible example of environmental conservation, fostering awareness of the importance of trees, ecosystems, and sustainable practices.

“It is also a meaningful step toward offsetting the environmental impact of a research degree, aligning our commitment to sustainable practices with the academic journey of our researchers.” 

Although planting a single tree may not fully offset the environmental impact of a research degree, it will contribute to raising awareness of carbon reduction within the academic community. 

“The cultural and historical significance of trees in Scotland is profound,” said Sandra Oza, Manager of the Doctoral Academy. “The Caledonian Forest, once sprawling across vast areas of the country, holds a cherished place in Scotland's heritage. By planting trees, we actively contribute to the preservation of this invaluable cultural connection and rekindle the spirit of ancient forests.”

At the heart of the Doctoral Academy’s vision lies the aspiration to create a sustainable forest to act a haven for tomorrow’s researchers. Each tree will stand as a symbol, while actively engaging in a wider crusade for environmental sustainability. This enduring effort will enrich nature, empower communities, and positively impact future generations.


Grant Hill

Senior Public Affairs Officer

+44 (0)1382 384768
Story category Graduation, Research
Collection Climate Action