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tREe’Cycle’ at Queen Elizabeth II High School – Mission Report!

Summary:

We were concerned about the increasing carbon emissions from our school transport. We conducted a survey on vehicle use, model, emissions and journey length for the entire school for a year. We calculated, we needed to plant 4490 trees to offset annual transport emissions. To date we have planted 2800 trees, organised a cycle to school day to encourage less vehicle use, built a bike shed from recycled materials, organised cycle buses, influenced government to action cycle lanes and setup a tree nursery for all new students to grow trees. Our vision is to become carbon neutral with our school transport.

We called our project tREe’CYCLE’ because we are recycling Carbon Dioxide emissions by planting trees, and reducing Carbon Dioxide by encouraging cycling to and from school. We also used recycled materials to create our bike shed. The bike shed is built out of 2 litre plastic bottles and re-cycled timbers. Every Yr 7 pupil this year was able to plant a tree in the school grounds.

In April we had a cycle to school day and created 4 ‘cycle buses’ on the 4 major routes into school. The cycle buses were led by staff. Students could join the bus at various points en route. Over 70 staff and pupils were involved in the cycle day.

The Tree Nursery
The Tree Nursery

The Project:

The overall goal of this project is to offset the carbon emmisions from transport to the school by planting trees and encouraging students to walk or cycle. We are doing this by reducing school transport and by planting trees to offset CO2.  This has been partly achieved with the construction of the bike shed, made from recycled plastic bottles. This presented a chance for most of the school community to get involved. We have raised awareness on the Island with the local newspaper and radio, also helping to solve the problems of congestion in the local area.

We started the project three years ago with these aims to take steps to offset the carbon emissions from transport students use to get to school:

  • To reduce the total emissions by encouraging people to walk, cycle or take the bus.
  • To Plant trees to soak up carbon dioxide produced by the school journeys.
  • To construct a bike shed using  2 litre plastic bottles.

We chose this project to get the whole community involved , raise awareness, construct a shed  using re-cycled materials , cut down on plastic waste , traffic congestion and be a talking point.

Cycle-To-School Day
Cycle-To-School Day

Through this project, we are solving the congestion problems in the local area. We are also trying to balance the carbon dioxide produced by vehicles with the carbon dioxide taken in by trees. We hope to have more trees growing on our school ground and local area  in order to encourage biodiversity and sustainability. At the moment  over 2000 trees have been planted by our team in our local area , By planting these trees, we are screening out recent housing developments as well as offering protection from the elements to the school field.

In order to encourage students to cycle to school, we built a bike shed out of recycled materials (hence the title of the project!) 2 litre plastic bottles were used for the walls. This may be the first bike shed made from such materials. This along with tree planting and other cycling projects has created interest both on local radio and in the local newspaper.

From the survey in 2006 we observed how great our carbon emmisions were from our school transport and how many trees we needed to plant (4490), so we were motivated to spark change.

A Tree-Planting Lesson
A Tree-Planting Lesson

We observed the volume of traffic around the school area, and recognised that it was hazardous for the pupils and the environment. We conducted several surveys including “hands-up” surveys across the whole school. This involved every student in the school  indicating their method of transport on that particular day. The feedback from this survey revealed that low numbers of students cycling to school was partly due to the fact that there was no bike shed.

Our main objective was to build a bike shed. We researched different sustainable ways to achieve this goal. We decided to make it out of recycled wood and 2 litre plastic bottles. I think we have built the first bike shed using plastic bottles. We got the idea from Greenhouses made from bottles and we decided to adapt it for our bike shed.

Plastic Bottle and Re-cycled Timber Shed
Plastic Bottle and Re-cycled Timber Shed

We also looked up how much carbon dioxide a mature tree could offset and by this combined with the survey results we were able to calculate that 4490 trees were needed to combat the excess carbon dioxide emmisions from our school transport.

Appreciated support came from Dalby Woodland Trust, who provided seeds, seed boxes, stakes and tubes. The Woodland Trust provided trees. The local Forestry Board provided wood offcuts to build the bike shed.  We thought it was important that the new year 7s should be involved in helping the enviroment too. So they will all be planting a tree each on the school grounds this planting seasons, so they can watch their tree grow as they progress through school. Many of the younger students were also involved in the construction of the bike shed and the recycling of their plastic bottles to make the shed.

Bird Feeders
Bird Feeders

Action Plan Achieved

  • 2006 – School audit how people transported to and from school, mileage, make of vehicle. Worked out CO2 emmission for year. Held ‘hands up surveys’ at various times 2007-2008 to monitor and encourage students to walk, cycle or bus. Made posters encouraging  them to do this.
  • Oct 2006 – Dec 2008. Planted approx. 2800 trees, made tree nursery,   lining out  beds , planted approx. 200 whips,  seed box, approx. 600 seedlings, bird , bug boxes ,bird table and feeders.
  • New Intake – every yr 7 pupil to plant a tree in school grounds  – 60 pupils planted their trees in November 08
  • Held cycling week in July 08 – over 300 students and staff were involved in cycling events – cycle training, road  and off road cycling, and various journeys around Island plus cycle maintanance.
  • June- July 08– Constructed a bike shed from 2 litre plastic bottles and wood off-cuts. Re – cycling Project. Plastic bottles collected April to July. Walls made from bottles threaded onto canes and stapled onto wood.
  • Our unusual bike shed was featured in Manx Independent and Manx Examiner and Manx Tails.  Manx Radio interviewed students whilst building cycle shed and  was broadcast live. Also featured in Dept. of Education weekly bulletin, accessed by all school and colleges on Island.
  • Jan 09 – School cycle club started.
  • Feb – April 2009 Remaining Yr 7 students planted their trees (100) in school grounds ( nurture throughout their life at school) . Publicised planting during Arbor Week.
  • April 09 – Cycle to School Day
  • May – July 2009 – Tend tree nursery, researched more local tree planting areas
  • Sep 2009 – March 2010 –  plant 1000 more trees.
Over 50 Bird Boxes Made!
Over 50 Bird Boxes Made!

Projects Results so far:

With this project, we think that we can offset a years worth of carbon dioxide emisions from school transport. We can see that progress is being made. The ‘hands up’ surveys show that the number of car users has declined and more people are walking and using their bike. Having a cycling week, training and club activities, more students are confident cycling to school, and our target is to increase these numbers.

We also got many students parents and teachers involved, for example, over 150 year 7 students alone have been involved in planting trees. There were also over 45 year 8 students who helped in the construction of the bike shed, with the whole school community involved in recyling plastic bottles for this project.

The trees planted 3 years ago are now thriving well and are visible in the community. Bird boxes are up and there is evidence of nest use.

Planting Out
Planting Out

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