The tree-lined campus at University College Cork (UCC) has been recognised by a prestigious global accreditation programme for the management and care of its trees.
The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Programme examines the conservation, maintenance, educational outreach and scientific collaborations of arboreta across the world.
The 2,500 trees across 42 acres at UCC join the notable list of arboreta accredited globally by ArbNet including the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney and the Oxford Botanic Garden at the University of Oxford.
The 120 different species represented in the collection, native Irish and British trees and American, Asian, Australian and European specimens, includes a pair of c. 150-year-old Giant Redwoods; an Irish champion Wing Nut tree; and a collection of mature pines including Scots, Monterey and Bhutan pines.
The accreditation recognises UCC’s arboretum as a teaching and outreach tool, as well as a visitor attraction to the campus with its multiple functions explored as part of the UCC Open Arboretum Project which is funded by UCC Green Campus and coordinated by Dr Eoin Lettice and Dr Barbara Doyle Prestwich of UCC’s School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES).
Dr Lettice said that the announcement has been “more than 150 years in the making” and is “a testament to the generations of UCC staff and students that have expanded our understanding of the natural world using these trees as tools for research, teaching and learning”.
“They are not just beautiful things to look at. The trees on campus are a living laboratory that are in use today for teaching and research in a variety of disciplines across the institution,” he said.
Dr Doyle Prestwich, who uses the UCC Arboretum for teaching, described it as “a powerful teaching tool and a living classroom” which is used to explore the power of plants as chemical factories for drug production, allowing students to gain an appreciation of the importance of plants in medicine.
UCC Head Gardener, Jack Murphy, said that he was “proud and excited for the trees on campus to be now recognised as an arboretum” and that the news was a testament the work that has gone into the preservation of the trees down through the years by past gardeners to the present-day gardeners of the university.