By Joseph Garcia —
The University of Louisville has been named Tree Campus USA for the ninth year in a row.
The award comes from the Arbor Day Foundation and has five standards. The standards are maintaining a tree advisory committee, having campus tree-care plan, having dedicated annual expenditures for campus trees, holding an Arbor Day observance and organizing a student service-learning project.
U of L first received this award in 2010 following the adoption of a campus-wide Tree Care Plan.
The plan meticulously details the planting seasons for trees and shrubs, the proper planting methods and the removal procedures.
“Our goal in our Campus Tree Care Plan is to continue increasing each year our campus tree population in both number and diversity,” Justin Mog, the assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives, said.
There are over 130 different species of trees on the Belknap campus alone, including a rare American Elm.
Mog also serves on the tree advisory committee that created and enforces the Tree Care Plan.
“U of L strives for no net tree biomass loss each year,” Mog said. “U of L is honored to consistently be part of the solution by planting, protecting and investing in the health of trees.”
Mog also described how there is a serious problem for trees in Louisville.
“Several studies have demonstrated that our city is continuing to suffer from a massive loss of trees. The rate of loss is about 150 trees per day,” Mog said.
Mog attributes this to many factors including unchecked developmental practices where developers are allowed to clear-cut their property.
“Our laws and policies with respect to tree removals remain far too lenient, and the city’s investment in planting and maintaining trees remains far too small to address the problem,” Mog said.
The other factors are climate disruption, invasive species and the effects of the Urban Heat Island effect.
“[The Urban Heat Island effect] has been documented to be more severe in Louisville than any other city,” Mog said.
Mog said all the concrete downtown absorbs the heat and it warms the surrounding area by about 1o degrees.
“Many trees simply cannot tolerate that,” he said.
This is why U of L’s efforts are so important to the community.
President of the Arbor Day Foundation Dan Lambe said, “Tree Campuses and their students set examples for not only their student bodies but the surrounding communities showcasing how trees create a healthier environment.”
U of L will host its Arbor Day Celebration on April 5 with events at both the Health Science Center and the Belknap campus.
There will also be a tree planting at both campuses and guests can take home free saplings to plant in their homes or neighborhoods.
Graphic by Shayla Kerr / The Louisville Cardinal