His Majesty King Willem-Alexander planted a rubber tree on the Wageningen Campus on 23 June. The UniversiTREE was placed between the Atlas and Orion buildings and is a part of the worldwide network of trees, UniversiTREES, which are being planted all across the continents as a symbol of unity in celebration of the hundred-year anniversary of Wageningen University & Research. The planting of the UniversiTREE coincided with the international alumni day, which the King opened earlier that day.
The rubber tree that was planted, Eucommia ulmoides, is climate resistant. The tree can weather fluctuating water levels in the soil in the form of groundwater seepage which are common on the campus. The tree also has to be able to withstand harsh winds. It is the only rubber-producing tree native to the northern hemisphere. In principle, hard, plastic-like rubber can be made from it, as a source of biobased products such as those that we will have increasing need for in the future. For that reason, these rubber trees are symbolic of all the research at WUR into trees and forests and the important roles they play for people and for preserving nature.
100 trees for 100 years WUR was an idea from a Wageningen alumnus. Trees are being planted worldwide to create a forest of UniversiTREES. The forest symbolically represents the international connection to Wageningen.
The tree chosen is always a slow-growing species which can live to be very old and which fits into the specific environment. The trees will collectively form a lasting reminder of 100 years WUR. The first UniversiTREES were planted earlier this year in China, Bangladesh, Brazil, and Leeuwarden.
After the official opening of international alumni day on 23 June, various alumni on four continents engaged in a live, online discussion. The alumni that had gathered were able to follow the discussion at fifty locations. During the WURld dialogue, we discussed the way in which we will supply food to megacities in the future. The 1500 alumni who came to campus in person participated in the Wisdom & Wonder Pavilion. In addition to reminiscing, they went on guided tours around campus, were able to experience the latest developments, walked down Alumni Memory Lane 1918-2018, and enjoyed live music.
Other activities for 100 years WUR
The celebration of 100 years WUR still has dozens of activities to come. At the end of August, there will be a large international conference on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (the conference “Towards zero hunger”); a company day; “Future perspective”, a business community relationship day focused on six themes, such as precision agriculture, CRISPR-Cas, and big data. On 9 November, the clock tower will be unveiled on campus.