GMIT Letterfrack awarded coveted 'Green Flag Campus' status
Date Article Written:
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Staff and students in GMIT Letterfrack are this week celebrating a milestone in the campus’ history after being formally appproved for an international Green Flag Award in recognition of its implementation of the Green-Campus Programme.
An Taisce approved the award on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) which operates the Eco-Schools Programme in over 50 countries. GMIT Letterfrack is the second GMIT campus to be awarded FEE Green Flag status. There are only seven third-level campuses in Ireland with the Green Campus Flag.
Over the past few years, the Letterfrack campus community implemented a range of initiatives to reduce and manage waste, increase recycling, and reduce the use of hazardous materials. They also committed to a biodiversity project which saw the establishment of a native woodland plot earlier this year close to the campus grounds. The themes of Waste and Biodiversity form the basis for the current action plan composed by the GMIT Letterfrack Green Campus Committee while future themes will include Transport, Water and Energy.
As part of this year’s activities, visiting exchange students from Virgina Tech, USA, joined students and staff in planting trees on a site to the rear of the campus known as the Community Educational Woodland, which is part of Connemara National Park. The group planted 75 native holy saplings by hand, and created wooden panelling, providing information on each species of tree within the woodland. The wooden panels were made from the species itself and engraved in the college using the latest CNC laser technology. The campus also organised quizzes, talks and demonstrations to highlight local biodiversity.
GMIT Letterfrack and its partner, Connemara West PLC, first signed up for the Green Campus Programme in 2010 and were assisted and advised by staff from the GMIT Mayo Green Campus Committee. The committee (in the Letterfrack campus) is made up of staff from both GMIT and Connemara West and students. Two student members, Ross Molloy and Gerard Dunlea, received GMIT Student Union Achievement Awards this year in recognition of their work on the programme.
Dr Yvonne Ryan, Environmental Education Unit, An Taisce, says: “GMIT Letterfrack demonstrates how a campus can effect leadership and change in their community by enhancing the local environment in practical and visible ways.”
“The planting of native woodland as a teaching tool and public amenity is just one example of the creative approach which makes GMIT Letterfrack a welcome addition to the existing six Green Flag campuses.”
Speaking about the campus’ achievement, Dermot O’Donovan, Head of Department, GMIT Letterfrack, says: “We are delighted and proud to have achieved this milestone. Staff and students have embraced this journey of environmental awareness and receiving our first Green Flag is a huge achievement for our campus. I wish to congratulate all involved, especially our Green Campus Committee.”
Students and staff of GMIT Letterfrack and Virginia Tech, USA, after their mammoth tree-planting session which helped earn them Green Campus status