On Tuesday, Jan. 29, UNC Charlotte was presented with the Tree Campus USA Award for the fifth year in a row. The Arbor Day Foundation presents this award each year to universities across the United States that have shown a dedication to managing urban forests and conversing with students and staff about conservation goals.

Since its founding in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has garnered over one million members making it the world’s largest organization dedicated to planting trees. The foundation has made great efforts to clean the earth’s air, and conserve soil, energy and water, including planting over 300 million trees around the world.

In order for a university to be eligible for the Tree Campus USA Award, it must uphold five standards determined by the Arbor Day Foundation. First, the university must establish a Campus Tree Advisory Committee composed of students, faculty, management and other members of the community. This community is formed to aid the university to reach its environmental goals. The second standard requires the university to submit a Campus Tree Care Plan that provides a clear, tentative plan on how the university will maintain and improve its current forests. The third standard states that the university must set aside an annual budget for its Campus Tree Program. The foundation does not specify a required amount for this budget. To meet the fourth standard, the university must host an annual Arbor Day observance “to educate the campus community on the benefits of the trees on their campus property and in the community.” The fifth and final standard requires the university to institute a Service Learning Project on campus that provides students with opportunities to learn about the benefits of trees on campus and in the surrounding community.

In order to uphold these standards, UNC Charlotte has maintained 1,000 wooded areas across the campus. This is not only to earn the award but mainly to benefit the university and its students.

“Maintaining and planting new trees on campus has a multitude of benefits,” said Tyler Sytsma, the university’s sustainability coordinator. “They make our air cleaner by absorbing carbon dioxide, prevent soil erosion and are the perfect canopy for relaxing in one of our hammock stations.”

It is also important to note that makes plans to either preserve or replace the current tree population before it starts any new construction.

If you would like to get involved in the preservation of UNC Charlotte’s wooded areas, you can contact the Sustainability Office and Grounds Department of Facilities Management sustainability@uncc.edu to learn about upcoming events and opportunities. If you would like to learn more about the Arbor Day Foundation, you can visit www.arborday.org.

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