Two years ago, Nexford University, an online university based in Washington DC, announced that it would be planting a tree in India and Africa for every learner enrolled.
As of February, the school has planted over 2,339 trees in its ‘Plant a Tree Initiative.’
In commemoration of the Earth Day on April 22, PREMIUM TIMES spoke with the founder of the school, Fadl Al Tarzi, on the initiative.
Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Several agencies and organisations celebrate the day by holding special events to spread awareness about climate change and global warming.
This theme for this year’s celebration is “Restore our Earth.”
While celebrating the second anniversary of its initiative, Nexford University explained that tree planting is the need of the hour as trees have an enormous ecological presence and are crucial to combat global warming.
“A single tree can produce more than 110kg of oxygen annually. The world emits about 43 billion tonnes of CO2 every year. Energy consumption is the largest source of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, and every tree counts in protecting the environment. Nexford University is not just building a sustainable learning environment but also making the world a better place to live.
“Deforestation continues to take place at alarming rates, and over 80 per cent of the Earth’s original forests have been destroyed. Nexford University has pledged to work towards reforestation on its second anniversary. The environmentally friendly team at Nexford has found a unique way to celebrate its anniversary and started the Plant a Tree Initiative. It will be planting a tree in India and Africa for every learner enrolled at Nexford to combat climate change,” a statement issued by the school read.
She further stated that in actualisation of its initiative, the university has partnered with Tree-nation.
“The learners have to register on Tree-nation, track the tree, see where it is grown, and download a tree certificate,” she said.
“Planting more trees benefits our physical as well as our mental health. Stress and depression levels can be significantly reduced if trees surround us. Nexford has already planted 2339 trees for its current and graduated students. Learners across the world are gearing up to plant a tree with Nexford and contribute to a healthier Earth.”
Why we are not planting in Nigeria yet — Founder
Mr Tarzi told PREMIUM TIMES that although there are plans to plant trees in Nigeria, the planting has only been done in Tanzania.
“We partnered with an organisation called Tree-nation. Now we planted trees through them. We are going to be looking at different locations to plant trees around the world but we’re mainly focused on sub-Saharan Africa and the next stage will be with me because I think to plant trees in India. So far, we have planted trees primarily in Tanzania. We are considering Nigeria and we would be happy to plant in Nigeria.”
Speaking further on why the planting has not kicked off in Nigeria, the university founder said there are no listings and tree planting opportunities in the country.
“The last time I checked I am not sure whether we actually found any listings in Nigeria. When we looked, I believe we didn’t find any in Nigeria specifically. But if we do we will definitely do it because Nigeria is a big market for us. It is one of our biggest markets. On the contrary, we actually have hundreds of students from Nigeria. Probably have over a thousand students from Nigeria and we didn’t find any tree planting opportunities in Nigeria through our partners.”
Mr Tarzi said the target of the organisation was to plant over a million trees in the next 10 years, under the initiative.
When asked about the challenges faced, Mr Tarzi explained that it is tasking calculating the carbon footprint of the organisation.
Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation or community.
“So it is often challenging to calculate exactly our footprint because we use a lot of technology all over the world and through partners. So it is often challenging to calculate accurately what our carbon footprint is.”
He added that in a bid to solve the problem, the organisation took a decision nearly two years ago to become a completely paperless company.
“So we don’t actually print any paper within the organisation and we don’t require physical documents like our contracts and other documents.”
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