The University of Michigan’s longstanding commitment to promoting healthy trees and engaging the community in the spirit of conservation has led the Ann Arbor campus to be recognized as a 2013 Tree Campus USA for the sixth consecutive year.
“Our community engagement and tree care is the reason we were able to be honored with this recognition again. Our diligence in improving the environment reflects our commitment to environmental stewardship,” says Marvin Pettway, U-M grounds senior supervisor.
With more than 16,000 trees on the maintained landscapes on campus, the Plant Building and Grounds Services crews remain busy, planting an approximate 100 trees per year to maintain the campus forestry. The number of trees planted per year varies with the number and scope of landscape projects, Pettway adds.
To be recognized as a Tree Campus USA, campuses across the nation must meet five core standards for sustainable campus forestry. Those include: establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and the sponsorship of student service-learning projects.
“By continuing to meet the annual standards, the university community has a campus that has a more sustainable environment, and one that instills pride in the students, faculty and staff,” says Pettway.
Many of U-M’s forestry efforts support the requirements necessary to earn Tree Campus USA recognition, and have developed from the Campus Forest Management Plan, including:
• The North Campus Wood Conservation program, a service-learning platform started in 2003, consists of invasive-plant-removal events each semester by U-M staff and student volunteers.
• A Tree Advisory Committee that brings together U-M and the local Ann Arbor community for information exchange, program and service idea sharing and exploring potential for combined local environmental goals.
• Observance of an annual Arbor Day to engage the public for educational opportunities and outreach.
Pettway encourages the university community to get involved and take advantage of opportunities offered by the North Campus Wood Conservation program to give back to the university.
Participants can help preserve the existing native biodiversity on North Campus, which is accomplished by removing invasive plant species and clearing trails of encroaching and hazardous vegetation. These methods improve recreational use for the community’s benefit.
“The volunteers recently cleared approximately a half acre of buckthorn and Asian honeysuckle from the dense woods near the Music School pond. Clearing these areas by hand is much more labor intensive than large machinery or prescribed burning, and would be far too expensive, if not for the hard-working volunteers,” Pettway says.
Tree Campus USA was launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota. This national program promotes environmental stewardship and the contributions made to make a healthier, more sustainable world.
The Tree Campus USA recognition is a result of ongoing efforts to protect biodiversity on U-M’s campus and supports the university’s broader sustainability initiative known as Planet Blue.