Transitioning to a net-zero world is regarded by the UN as one of the greatest challenges facing humankind. To keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C, emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) need to be reduced to net zero by 2050. This environmental challenge has been acknowledged by Rotary Ireland and earlier this year it launched the Rotary Student Environment Award – Achieving Net Zero by 2050.

The project is funded by Rotary Ireland and two Rotary Clubs – Wicklow and Dublin Fingal. The award is aimed at third-level undergraduate students from a wide range of disciplines including forestry, architecture, ecology, engineering, science, horticulture, design, agriculture, land management, bioenergy, product development, woodworking and restoration.

The challenge is to research and submit projects on any element of forestry and biodiversity throughout the growing and production cycle including nursery, forest, end use – and reuse – with the aim of contributing to net zero by 2050. Projects can explore forests and tree species and the interaction between forestry and other land uses including agriculture, while outside the forest, there are opportunities to feature innovative wood in all its forms, in decarbonising the economy.

Projects for the Rotary Ireland Student Environment Award are accepted from Irish undergraduate students from third-level colleges in Ireland– north and south– and overseas. Applications are accepted for current projects and work completed over the past two years. Forest Industries Ireland in Ibec is also supporting this award and will offer a €2,000 prize to the winner, which may be increased to €4,000 for an exceptional project.

Wood award

Running in conjunction with the Rotary competition is Wood Awards Ireland. Unlike the Rotary Awards, this is open to both undergraduate and postgraduate architecture, engineering and woodworking students who use wood as an important element in their construction, design and research projects.

Entrants to one or both awards should submit projects as per original college thesis or essay. Projects should be accompanied by completed application form. Details and application forms for both awards are available at or email for further details. The closing date is 2 November 2022.

Rotary Ireland

Rotary Ireland is part of Rotary International (RI), a voluntary humanitarian organisation which promotes a wide range of services in areas such as health, education and the environment. Rotary has 46,000 clubs in all continents and a membership of 1.4m, while Ireland has 1,700 members in 70 clubs. Projects carried out by Rotary include Polio Plus, which has eradicated polio in every country in the world except Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Rotary International has already provided $18m in its foundation global grant funding to environmental projects over the past five years.